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Creator / Harmony Korine

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"To me, the most beautiful thing in the world is an abandoned parking lot and a soiled sofa on the edge… with a street lamp off to the side. America seems like a series of abandoned parking lots, streetlights and abandoned sofas."
Harmony Korine

Harmony Korine (born January 4, 1973) is an American writer-director of avant-garde films. To date, he has made a handful of short films and visual art pieces, written two of Larry Clark's films, and directed a total of seven feature films, writing six of them himself:

Written and directed:

Directed only:

  • Above the Below

Written only:

His films have a tendency to bend, break or otherwise subvert traditional narrative. They also tend to deal with taboo, unpleasant or otherwise esoteric subject matter. As such, his body of work could most definitely be described as polarizing.

The works of Harmony Korine provide examples of the following:

  • Affectionate Parody:
    • Trash Humpers is meant to be this for underground cinema of the 80's and 90's, as it was shot on a worn out VHS tape and was originally slated to be given a Direct to Video release by placing blank tapes in random public locations without context.
    • Many viewers have described Spring Breakers as this to sexploitation films of the 60's and 70's due to its sexually charged writing and violence.
  • all lowercase letters: He seems to prefer writing this way.
  • Amateur Cast: He tends to cast non actors into small or supporting roles in his movies, with some of them going as far to cast them in leading roles.
  • Author Appeal: Vaudeville, Buster Keaton, Werner Herzog, tap dancing, Chloë Sevigny (at first; later his wife, Rachel), and the Alienation Principle.
  • Black Metal: Makes up much of the soundtrack for Gummo. Korine appears to have an affinity for Black Metal, appearing in the documentary Until The Light Takes Us, preparing an Art Installation wherein he plays Mayhem while in Blackface, tap-dancing.
  • Camp Straight: Despite playing gay characters in his own movies and making movies camp-trashy enough to come across like the second coming of John Waters, he's heterosexual.
  • Crapsack World: His movies are typically populated by freaks, weirdos and/or losers.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Anti-Social (or otherwise bizarre) characters acting-out through random and often-surreal activities, filmed with odd cinematic tricks, inter-spliced with genuine Documentary footage, and edited together in a rambling, non-narrative style similar to a collage. Established in Gummo, perfected in Julien Donkey-Boy, taken to an extreme in Trash Humpers, and finally streamlined into a more mainstream form in Spring Breakers.
  • Critical Dissonance: Despite the negative reviews and poor box office returns of his movies, Harmony has often been described by figures like Werner Herzog, Roger Ebert, and Gus Van Sant as being one of cinema's greatest and original filmmakers.
  • Documentary: Like his mentor Werner Herzog (who acted in Julien Donkey-Boy and Mister Lonely), Korine's work blurs the lines between this and "Fiction Films". As said in his "Mistake-ist Declaration", "Don't direct a scene — document an action."
  • Dogme '95: Made Julien Donkey-Boy, the first non-European Dogme film (Dogme #6).
  • Eagleland: In bonus material on the Gummo DVD, Korine refers to himself as a "Strictly American Filmmaker", and most of his work deals with "The American Landscape", specifically the trashy, Midwestern side of it. Which makes the France/Scotland/Unspecified Third World Nation-set Mister Lonely stick out even more.
  • Friendly Fandoms: He shares this with both Werner Herzog and John Waters. The former because of the loose documentary-like narratives of their films; and the latter because of the extreme amount of Squick in their works.
  • Le Film Artistique: His calling.
  • He Also Did: While most known for his feature-length films, Korine has also dabbled in Novels (A Crackup at the Race Riots, What Makes Pistachio Nuts?), Short Films (The Devil, The Sinner, and His Journey, The Diary of Anne Frank Pt II), Acting (Good Will Hunting, Stoker) and Music Video Directing ("Sunday" for Sonic Youth, "Gold on the Ceiling" for The Black Keys).
  • Missing Episode:
    • His collage film Diary of Anne Frank Pt II has never resurfaced since it premiere, with only an article on his website as proof of its existence.
    • He wrote a screenplay for a movie called What Makes Pistachios Nuts? but the computer it was stored in was destroyed in a house fire before he could find a potential studio to greenlight it.
    • In 1999 he began filming a movie called Fight Harm where he would provoke passers by to fight him, describing it as a cross between Buster Keaton and a snuff film; however he was forced to abandon production after sustaining too many injuries while filming. Only one minute of the 17 minutes of film captured has surfaced.
  • Mondo: Made his name long after the heyday of the form, but his filming of certain less-than-pleasant spectacles like the Cigarette-Eater in Julien Donkey-Boy do share a certain sensibility with Mondo Films.
  • Montages: Most of his films are basically long montages, similar to Goodfellas and The Tree of Life. Spring Breakers is edited with such propulsion it's basically a long Music Video.
  • No Budget: The budgets of his films range from modest to incredibly low, with most of the money usually going towards their All-Star Cast. Despite this, nearly all of them (aside from Kids and Spring Breakers) fail to make back even a fraction of the money spent on making them.
  • Oddball in the Series: Mister Lonely, a (relatively) straightforward Drama lacking the rest of his work's idiosyncratic structures, American setting, grainy cinematography, sociopathic characters, and (most) Le Film Artistique elements. That said, if it were made by almost anybody BUT Harmony Korine, it'd probably be the strangest film they'd ever made.
  • Promoted Fanboy: For both him and Werner in Julien Donkey-Boy and Mister Lonely. Harmony's directing style was heavily influenced by Werner's films while Werner was a huge fan of Harmony's first film.
  • Scenery Porn: Korine is preoccupied with what he calls "The American Landscape" described in the page quote. For some it's this, for others it's more like Scenery Gorn (or both).
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: His movies fall far on the cynical spectrum, though he shows a warped appreciation for these characters.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Kids, Gummo. Spring Breakers downplays this by having a main cast of college kids in the early twenties who act like the teens in the aforementioned movies.
  • Throw It In!: He admits that he often ignores writing dialogue in his screenplays and encourages his actors to improvise their scenes instead; saying that the effect makes his already narative-subverting films feel "more alive".
  • Who Names Their Kid Harmony?: Many viewers who were introduced to Harmony Korine through Spring Breakers were surprised to find out that's a man's name. Though one could argue the camera angles and shots in that movie were indicative enough.