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Spring Break Forever

Harmony Korine stopped in London on his Spring Breakers tour, and spoke of inspirations from jaw bones to Skittles.

Harmony Korine (centre) with producers Chris Hanley and Jordan Gertner

Harmony Korine (centre) with producers Chris Hanley and Jordan Gertner

Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, something of an auteur take on Girls Gone Wild, has been winning raves on the festival circuit since Venice and Toronto. Vertigo is now readying the film’s UK theatrical release on Friday and Korine stopped by the Curzon Soho on Tuesday night for a special screening and highly entertaining Q&A with die-hard fans.

He revealed the film, about college girls who get involved with local gangsters while on spring break, started with a single image that came to his mind: “I thought about girls in bikinis with guns on the beach, robbing fat tourists.”

And he noted he’d been “collecting spring break imagery for years,” for art and film projects.

He said it wasn’t “an expose on spring break, it’s more like a pop poem.” He recounted when he was doing research in the spring break mecca of Panama City, Florida, when he stumbled upon a human jawbone in a Days Inn hotel chandelier. (This reporter had disturbing flashbacks to her long-long-ago spring break days in Myrtle Beach, SC.)

Of the film’s unique look, he said: “I wanted the film to look like it was lit with Skittles…[to have] a candy-coated realism.”

“I don’t care about truth in films,” he continued during the Q&A with Curzon director of programming (and big Korine fan) Jason Wood. “Truth is boring for the most part. I’m trying to make something more energy based, more inexplicable, more magical.”

He recruited Disney stars Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez to break out of their America’s sweetheart molds and embrace their characters’ darker sides. “They were pretty bold and they went for it.” He said they did a lot of rehearsals and the young stars were workhorses. “Whatever you say about Disney, they have a work ethic,” he said with a laugh. “In some ways this is like a Disney film.”

Lesser known stars include a set of “scumbag” twins who Korine says exist in real life “on Red Bull and Vicodin…they live with no filter. They’re what makes America great.”

As for James Franco, who takes his acting to a new level as drug kingpin/rapper Alien, Korine says: “he’s a maniac, he’s attacking life.” Of seeing him in character the first time, he adds: “I was pretty blown away.”

After the Q&A The evening’s fun continued with an after party in Hackney, with Michael Fassbender making an appearance. No word if anyone partook in beer bongs and body shots.

As for Korine, he is embracing the new level of attention and success that comes with Spring Breakers. He’s currently concentrating on painting and spending time with his young daughter, but plans to write another script later this year. “I feel like I can do anything, I’m like a soldier of cinema,” he said. “I’m in a great place.”

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