In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson lookalike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple.
Constructing this film through random scenes, director Harmony Korine abruptly jettisoned any sort of narrative plot, so here we go: Solomon and Tummler are two bored teenage boys who live in Xenia, Ohio. A few years ago, a tornado swept through it, destroying more than half the town and killing the same amount, including Solomon's father. The film, from there, chronicles the anti-social adventures these two boys have. These include sniffing glue, killing cats, having sex, riding dirtbikes, listening to black metal, and meeting a cavalcade of quirky, bizarre, and scary people. These include a man who pimps his mentally ill wife to our anti-heroes, three sisters who play with their cat and practice becoming strippers, a black midget fending off the sexual advances of a troubled man (played by the director Harmony Korine), a 12-year-old gay transvestite who is also a cat killer, Solomon's mother who seems to be the only glimpse of sanity, two foul-mouthed six-year olds, and most ...Written by
The film is populated with friends from Harmony Korine's own Nashville upbringing. Bryant L. Crenshaw, the midget, went to high school with him. The skinhead brothers are old friends, as well. See more »
Some crew member's feet are visible kicking a wire at the bottom of the screen during the "chair wrestling" scene in the kitchen. See more »
Xenia, Ohio. Xenia, Ohio. A few years ago, a tornado hit this place. It killed the people, left and right. Dogs died. Cats died. Houses were split open, and you could see necklaces hanging from branches of trees. People's legs and neck bones were sticking out. Oliver found a leg on his roof. A lot of people's fathers died, and were killed by the great tornado. I saw a girl fly through the sky, and I looked up her skirt. Her skull was smashed. And some kids died. My ...
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An American parable and an excellent study of America's underbelly
For many people who know the United States only through cinema, tabloid celebrity-news and TV, the US is the land of the rich and the beautiful. For those people, the likes of Tom Cruise, George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, in other words, actors with big, polished grins and empty eyes are the faces of America. And Hollywood is its capital city.
Well, "Gummo" isn't about that America; "Gummo" is the America of the poor, uneducated and the degenerated descendents of the dregs from around the world. These aren't the (supposedly) proud and noble people who came to America on board the Mayflower, but rather those that travelled in the ships hull; those who eventually ended up in some dreary trailer camp and hamlet somewhere in the Midwest, simply because they weren't wanted anywhere else.
"The prophet has no honor in his own country", goes an old saying, which would explain the harsh criticism that director Harmony Korine has received, especially by American critics and reviewers. Too close to home and too harsh a reality, but undeniably a reality that Korine is more than familiar with. Korine descends from a similar environment and I dare say that it took courage to explore such an uncomfortable background.
The closest I can compare "Gummo" to is Werner Herzog's "Stroszek"; not only are the filming techniques very similar (whether Korine is a Herzog-fan I do not know, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least), blending together professionals, amateur- and non-actors seamlessly, but both films have a similar nihilist air, telling stories that are free of redemption, yet captivate the viewer's attention like a travelling freak-show or the birth of a two-headed cow.
One of the main reasons that I was watching "Gummo" in the first place, before even realizing what kind of film it was, was the presence of actor Jacob Reynolds. I had seen Reynolds in "The Road to Wellville", were he has a small but impressive scene as Dr. Kellogg's (Anthony Hopkins) adopted son. Apart from being an excellent actor, Reynolds is ugly. His ugliness, the over-sized head, bird-like features and asymmetric features, glues itself to the eye of the beholder; one could watch him for hours, giving new meaning to the term "so ugly that he's back to beautiful again". A shame that the young actor hasn't been starring in more films and bigger roles, but, like I already said, the industry relies more on pretty and lifeless actors.
Well, this definitely isn't a "pretty picture" – if you want "pretty" or "artificial", I recommend films with above mentioned ladies and gentlemen – and it most likely will not make you feel better if you happened to have a bad day. But it's authentic, and that's not exactly common these days. A movie one either loves or loves to hate.
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