Help Genre Icon Karen Black Battle Cancer

Here's an opportunity to give back to a genre icon who has graced screens both large and small. Karen Black, the incredibly talented star of Day of the Locust, Trilogy of Terror, and Easy Rider, is currently battling a very serious form of cancer. She and her family are raising money to help with expenses associated with cancer treatment. Please consider donating to her campaign to help restore the strong, captivating presence we all adore.


Harmony Korine's SPRING BREAKERS: Party 'til You Die

 photo SpringBreakersPoster_zpsc5c166c2.jpg

Spring Breakers (2013)
Director: Harmony Korine
Writer: Harmony Korine
Cast: Ashley Benson, James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, Gucci Mane
Website: Spring Breakers Official Website

In Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, shaman-like OG Alien (James Franco) utters the mantra "spring break forever" in an ethereal tone that echoes throughout the film. His words are the lynchpin between two colliding yet converging worlds. The participants in those worlds are each living a fantasy life with a fast approaching expiration date; the difference is that one group has the ability to escape that world whenever they chose, while the other is trapped by circumstance.

 photo SpringBreakersfun_zpsc09b33f6.jpg

College friends Faith (Gomez), Candy (Hudgens), Brit (Benson), and Cotty (Korine), a group of pretty blondes (and one brunette), are a few dollars short to make it down south to St. Petersburg, Florida for Spring Break. The obvious solution is rob a local restaurant for the loot, one performed with aplomb by the ennui-stricken girls. Each is looking for a life changing experience among the partying crowds of the beaches and clubs, and find a world ready to embrace their pent up emotions and lust for ACTION. When they land in jail after a drug raid, Alien bails them out and takes the enthusiastic crew on a violent voyage into his world of hustling, guns, and drugs.

A superficial look at Korine's multi-layered film would have you believe this is just a Girls Gone Wild video taken to the utmost extremes. That couldn't be more inaccurate. Sure, the film is filled from beginning to end with tanned naked bodies, rampant drug use, and violence, but peeling those layers reveals an affecting examination of intersecting cultural, economic, and existential themes. The film is actually a rather complicated piece of filmmaking once those conversation threads are breached.

 photo SpringBreakersArrested_zpsd0f5fbdc.jpg

College kids descend like a plague upon communities like St. Petersburg, stripping the towns to the bone. Conversely, these communities are dependent upon a tourism trade that requires them to look the other way as privileged young adults yearning for "freedom" or "release" do so under a veil of perceived consequence-free debauchery. On the outskirts lie the people born and raised in those communities whose only chance of survival is in benefiting from the destruction. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, our four young protagonists - deemed "special" by Alien - penetrate the fringes where people like Alien and his rival Archie (Gucci Mane) battle for control of the illicit profits and the infinite perpetuation of gangster culture. This subculture is now in danger of succumbing to the same fate that befell the city around it.

 photo SpringBreakersAlien_zpscba52e7f.jpg

Disney star Gomez as the wholesome Faith is the only character given any sort of depth, and for a reason. Her character is the only one with plans for genuine soul-searching. She, however, heads home quickly when things get too uncomfortable. The rest of the characters live in a state of arrested development, opting instead to take Alien literally on his offer to live like it's Spring Break forever. Already having it all, they now want Alien's lifestyle - a house full of guns and money - because nothing else could possibly be fulfilling. As he puts it, "this is the American dream".

The interchangeability of the remaining female characters plays into Korine's challenges to pop culture and its rotating cast of used child stars, co-opted culture (hip-hop in particular), and other forms of throw-away exploitation. His casting of child-stars Gomez and Hudgens, as well as running tributes to Brittney Spears serves to drive his point that innocence is not only lost, but it's been taken out back behind a shed, shot in the head, and buried in an unmarked grave while the next "big thing" is trumpeted just above the freshly buried corpse.

Part of what makes Spring Breakers fascinating is the sumptuous visuals provided by Benoit Debie (Irreversible) who contrasts the frenetic party scenes with periods of wondrous beauty. This can be shots of the setting sun on a beach, or just the image of the four girls playfully contorting their bodies in silhouette against the walls of narrow hallways and breezeways. These are the moments when the characters feel most human with a world truly open to possibility. These moments are also fleeting...

 photo SpringBreakersknife_zpsddd6d364.jpg

The scenes of violence employed by Korine may seem over-the-top, but it's a clever way to subvert expectations. These girls  commit crimes without remorse or fear, believing that they do, indeed, rule the world. They do so brazenly, right in the faces of their victims, believing every second that they are invincible. In this extreme and satirical way, Korine is contrasting their behavior with that of politicians, corporations, entertainers, and the like that anonymously do the same. These are the children of those so-called leaders who will grow up to replace them in their pursuit of money, money, money. Think of Spring Break as depicted here an internship for the larger crimes surely to characterize their career trajectory.

Spring Breakers Trailer


Cinedelphia disturbs with VIVISECTIONS on April 14

 photo MeatMeInPlainville_zpsf702d8b6.jpg

Cinedelphia - the portal to the best cinema in the greater Philadephia area - has launched their own festival to celebrate the rich film history of the City of Brotherly Love. The Cinedelphia Film Festival takes place from April 4 - 27 featuring the best films with a Philadelphia connection.

Part of the event is a special presentation of subversive films entitled Vivisections, programmed by area filmmaker Matt Garrett. Mr. Garrett has collected some of the most challenging, brutal, and brazen films from all over the globe. Each sinister film is hand-picked to startle, disturb, or arouse. All selections are Philadelphia premieres.

 photo BiteHorse_zps13abd61b.jpg
Titles include Karen Lam's The Stolen (2012), a fairy tale gone horribly awry when a young girl helps out the wrong fairy princess. Sam Walker's Bite Horse (2012) is a nightmarish music video featuring the unnerving sounds of the band Mississippi Witch. Maude Michaud's RED (2012) is a stunning cinematic crossroads where erotica meets the snuff film. Greg Hanson and Casey Regan's Meat Me in Plainville (2011) blends Soylent Green with the sensibilities of a 50's sitcom. Josh MacDonald's Game (2012) is a satirical take on backwoods hillbilly survivalist fare, and Matt O'Mahoney's Adjust Tracking (2012) puts a neat VHS spin on bloody revenge flicks. These are just a sample of the horrible treats in store for Philadelphia area fans of provocative film.

Below is Cinedelphia's Official Press Release with ticketing info, dates/times, more film descriptions, and a few trailers:

CFF: VIVISECTIONS International Short Horror Films

Sunday, April 14 2013, 9:30 PM
VIVISECTIONS: International Short Horror Films Program

 photo BirthdayBoys_zpscfd62966.jpgVoyeurism, snuff, cinema and sex collide in Red, a provocative slow-burn shocker from Montreal horror maven, Maude Michaud (Hollywood Skin).  In Rafael De Leon Jr's Birthday Boys, teenaged Riley turns to dark forces in order to bring back her lost love.  Cinematic madman Sam Walker (Tea Break) presents his short film/music video hybrid Bite Horse, the first chapter of a multi-media collaboration with the Southern Gothic band Mississippi Witch.  Next is Doll Parts and Stained director Karen Lam's The Stolen, a dark fairy tale about a young girl with a big heart who is forced to strike a bargain ur program concludes with the stop-motion animated nightmare, Crépuscule, from visionary director Éric Falardeau (Thanatomorphose).  A young woman, bound at the wrists, attempts to escape her demented redneck captors in screenwriter Josh MacDonald's (The Corridor) beautifully photographed and wickedly funny directorial debut, Game.  Aussie director Dave Wade's slick, sick and hilariously crude A Tale of Obsession follows an overweight teen goth as she attempts to curb her hunger to win the heart (and body) of the perpetually shirtless school hunk.  Matt O'Mahoney, director of the Fantastic Fest award-winning Electric Fence, returns with Adjust Tracking, a lovingly meaty homage to the Golden Age of VHS Horror.  And finally, from the delightfully twisted minds of  Greg Hanson & Casey Regan (Thy Kill Be Done) comes the definitive argument against USDA-approved cannibalism, Meat Me in Plainville.  Think Soylent Green meets I Drink Your Blood with a healthy dose of Father Knows Best thrown in for good measure.  Human Meat Is Murder!

Every film in this program is a Philadelphia Premiere, having previously played such festivals as Cannes, Fantasia, PiFan, Sydney Underground,and Fantastic Fest.

Advance tix are $10, no refunds or exchanges.

The Cinedelphia Film Festival is a Philly-centric celebration of Philly film running from April 4-27, 2013.


Game Trailer

The Stolen Trailer

Birthday Boys Trailer 

RED Trailer

Crepuscule Trailer


Park Chan-wook's STOKER: Portrait of a Fractured Family


Stoker (2013)
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writer: Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson (contributing writer)
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Website: Stoker Official Site

Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt may be the impetus for Park Chan-wook's first English-language film Stoker, but the film moves about with a dreamy fairy-tale quality that distinguishes itself from the master of suspense's classic. It's the result of Chan-wook's unique ability to imbue poetic lyricism into his stylish thrillers. Once again working with cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance), the two have crafted a stark gothic tale full of strange beauty and sudden violence.

 photo StokerMia_zps880a9a04.jpg

India (Mia Wasikowska) and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) have just lost their family chieftain Richard Stoker (Dermot Mulroney) to a fiery auto accident. In the midst of coming to terms with the loss of a father and husband, they are visited by his long-lost brother Charlie (Matthew Goode), an uncle India never knew existed. India is captivated by the charming renaissance man, driving further an already existing wedge between India and her mother. India's uncle soon reveals a sinister side, but India has her own darkness brewing, cultivated by the enigmatic Charlie.

 photo StokerEvelyn_zps624e5077.jpg

Stoker is a psychological thriller with a simple premise, but one operating with spectacular character dynamics. Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) portrayal of India is a revelation. She's a young woman whose life - once enriched by her father's nurturing - is now left with a huge void. Evelyn, seduced by Charlie's eccentricities and many talents, will do anything to replace the hole in her own heart with Charlie as surrogate. Charlie is obviously a sociopath, able to inflict great pain and death with as much concern as opening a bottle of fine wine. He sees a chance to adopt his brother's flailing family as his own. Each performer rises above typical melodramatic histrionics by delivering nuanced, offbeat takes on their respective characters.

 photo Stokernieceanduncle_zpsebd2e9d6.jpg

Class tension factors as a small undercurrent of Stoker. India's family appears to be the only financially stable in her community. Her time spent in activities like playing the piano or target shooting seem superfluous when contrasted with fellow blue collar, underachieving students at her school. This puts a distance between her and her classmates, and bullies taunt her as being "weird" or a "bitch". This gap allows Charlie to insinuate himself in India's life in a profound way. A pivotal scene follows India on a rendezvous with a local boy after his shift at a fast food joint. Their volatile encounter ends in bloodshed at the hands of Charlie in front of Inda, both of whom think little of offing the boy after he attacks India. India's compliance in the act - whether or not deserved by the boy - reveals that she has more in common with Charlie than could be imagined.

 photo StokerIndiagun_zps9b93c0bf.jpg

The final act culminates in the sort of mayhem most fans have come to expect of Chan-wook. While it may not live up to the expectations of some, it shows a director dedicated to the type of growth displayed in his last feature Thirst (2009). When most revenge thrillers are focused exclusively on the brutality, Chan-wook differentiates himself with complex emotional depth. In India, we see great potential thwarted by corruption and the influence of a terrible man. As Uncle Charlie says "she's of age", and though he never reveals what he means, the viewers knows for certain it won't be good. Perhaps the real cruelty operating here is the callous opportunism that rises from taking advantage of broken, abandoned hearts.

Stoker Trailer