Monday, February 10, 2014

Shia LaBeouf, The Bling Ring, Spring Breakers

Shia LaBeouf, performance art
Well, Shia LaBeouf, it turns out, has set out to do some sort of performance art thing where all he does is plagiarize other people. This is supposed to set off a "conversation" about plagiarism in this era of internet stuff. Or something. I don't know.

I was reminded of the words of Orson Welles on Jean-Luc Godard:
“...I just can’t take him very seriously as a thinker — and that’s where we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares about these days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of a pin.”
The point is that cinema is an art form. And just as there's no such thing as an intellectual sculpture or an intellectual painting, there may be no such thing as an intellectual film.

And I would say the same for "performance art". It may be an art form, but it has no more intellectual depth than sculpture. You're not going to express any deep thoughts that way.

The Bling Ring
That might explain the movie The Bling Ring. The true story of some teenagers in LA who start burglarizing the homes of wealthy celebrities. I'm sorry Jack Webb isn't around to make it an episode in some new incarnation of Dragnet.

As it was, the movie was sort of blank and shallow, which may be fine since it's about rather shallow people. I didn't sympathize with the kids or with the celebrities they stole from. Although the kids were treated like criminals when their real crime was loving their victims too much. And robbing them.

It may just be that you're not going to get much depth from a movie. But I think it was about what I expected.

Spring Breakers
I had low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Spring Breakers exemplified the theories of Sergei Eisentein---the montage, the use of sound. It was the kind of movie Eisenstein would have made if Eisenstein had been an idiot.

But, like Orson Welles said in the quote above, even if Harmony Korine had wanted to make something intellectually deep, could it be done?

The movie was about college girls who want to go on spring break but are short of funds. They rob a restaurant. They go to Florida. They end up with James Franco playing, something. A drug dealer? A gun dealer? They wear daring two piece swimsuits throughout the movie.

I never liked James Franco. Now I hate him.

It was all right. A little annoying at times.

It cost a modest $5 million, grossed a bit under $15 million in the U.S., over $30 million worldwide.

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