A man wanders out of the desert after a four year absence. His brother finds him, and together they return to L.A. to reunite the man with his young son. Soon after, he and the boy set out ... See full summary »
Harry Dean Stanton,
"O, mio babbino caro" plays as a woman skates gracefully. In contrast, little is graceful and daddy is not dear in Julien's world. His father listens to blues wearing a gas mask; dad prods, lectures, and derides Julien as well as Julien's brother and pregnant sister, while grandma attends to her dog. Julien is different, schizophrenic. He wears gold teeth. He bowls, sings, worships, and chats with a group of young adults with disabilities. His sister's child is probably his own. He talks on the phone, imagining it's his mother, who died in childbirth years before. He may be a murderer of children. From his point of view (perhaps), the film follows this odd family for a few weeks. Written by
WARNING: THIS CRITICAL REVIEW GIVES AWAY ONE (1) RATHER INSIGNIFICANT STORY EVENT.
Although Harmony Korine's latest film proudly flaunts its "Dogma 95" minimalist seal of approval, Korine has little else to be proud of with "julien donkey-boy," save for the fact that unsuspecting people are actually paying money to see it > Featuring the shakiest camera work since "The Blair Witch Project," the experimental, mostly improvised "julien" has even less of a coherent storyline and structure than Korine's last stink bomb, "Gummo." Yet the young writer/director is ever-insistent on grabbing the audience's attention with concepts that the general public finds vile (incest, transvestitism, etc.) and capitalizing on the insensitivity with which he gawks at the differently-abled individuals in his films (the often mentally-impaired and impoverished human oddities that pepper both films).
My personal pick for the film's "funniest" moment is the scene in which Julien asks to recite a poem at the dinner table. His father interrupts, declaring, "I don't like that artsy-fartsy stuff." This is possibly the film's only moment of self-awareness and self-mockery. "julien" is, indeed, a prime example of that artsy-fartsy stuff, and it should serve as a reminder to us all: the words "original," "innovative," and "independent" do not always imply "good."
It's unlikely that Harmony Korine will stop employing shock for shock's sake anytime soon, which is unfortunate, because that thrill leaves most art-house audience members during their teen years. However, I have faith that he is still capable of delivering another script on par with "Kids." If we get another "Gummo" or "julien," though, I'm giving up on him.
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