Film Crit Hulk Smash: HARMONY KORINE ISN’T LYING

Hulk spent two days as an embedded reporter with Harmony Korine, James Franco and the SPRING BREAKERS crew at SXSW.

HULK ONCE HAD A CONVERSATION WITH [DELETING FAMOUS PERSON’S NAME HERE] ABOUT THE ONGOING “INTERACTION WITH STRANGERS.” WE CAME UP WITH A THEORY THAT HULK LIKES A GREAT DEAL. THERE IS A BELIEF THAT THE ADORATION OF A LARGE NUMBER OF STRANGERS IS COMPARABLE TO THE ADORATION OF A LARGE NUMBER OF ANY PEOPLE IN OUR LIVES. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE. THE ADORATION OF STRANGERS FEELS LIKE THE ADORATION OF ONE SINGLE PERSON. WITHOUT THE CONSTRUCT OF AN ACTUAL RELATIONSHIP, ALL STRANGERS COME TO REPRESENT THE SAME FACELESS ENTITY. AND YES, THEY DO MATTER, BUT EVERY INTERACTION FEELS LIKE THE SOLE REPRESENTATIVE OF “THE PUBLIC.” THERE’S NO OTHER WAY TO BEST EXPLAIN WHY THE CRITICISM OF A SINGLE STRANGER CAN FEEL SO HARSH AND YET THE ADORATION OF THOUSANDS OF STRANGERS CAN FEEL SO SMALL. IT IS SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY REPRESENT “ONE PERSON” IN YOUR LIFE, OR IN THE LEAST, ONE RELATIONSHIP.

AND THUS AT THESE PARTIES, THE ONGOING CONVERSATION WITH STRANGERS CAN FEEL LIKE YOU ARE HAVING THE SAME CONVERSATION AGAIN AND AGAIN. SAVE FOR THE MOMENTS YOU GET TO INTERACT WITH THOSE TO WHOM YOU ARE GENUINELY CLOSE AND THE WHOLE THING TAKES ON MORE MEANING, AS IT IS SET AGAINST THE CONTEXT OF A REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HISTORY. BUT STILL, THAT DOES NOT CONTRIBUTE TO CRAZY ANTICS. THESE PARTIES ARE WORK EVENTS AND ALL THE THANK YOUS AND INTERACTIONS ARE AN EXTENSION OF THE PREMIERE ATMOSPHERE. IT IS NOT A PERSONAL PARTY. IT IS A GLORIFIED OFFICE PARTY.

EVEN FOR THOSE FIGURES ON THE PERIPHERY, THERE ARE RARELY ANY MOMENTS OF CRAZINESS DURING THESE STUDIO SPONSORED PARTIES. SURE, SOMEONE USUALLY DRINKS TOO MUCH AND SLIGHTLY EMBARRASSES HIMSELF OR HERSELF. BUT MORE OFTEN THAN NOT THEY SIMPLY BECOME A PLACE FOR MORE LOOSENED CONVERSATION. IT’S JUST AN OPPORTUNITY TO RELAX FOR A DAMN MINUTE. ESPECIALLY FOR THE LEGIONS OF P.R. PEOPLE WHO RUN THEM, THEY MUST FIRST DEAL WITH ALL SORTS OF RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDING DOOR DUTY, LIST CHECKING, HANDLING, ETC. BEFORE FINDING TIME FOR SOME QUICK BREAKS OR THE THANKFUL LONGER TIME OFF TO ENJOY A DRINK.

THIS PARTICULAR PARTY IS OCCURRING IN WHAT ONE FORMER LOCAL CALLED “One of the worst bars in Austin.” HULK HAS NO WAY OF TELLING, OF COURSE, AS THIS IS FAR FROM A REGULAR SAMPLE, BUT THEY ARE MAKING STRONG DRINKS AND THERE SEEMS TO KIND OF BE ENOUGH SPACE. THAT’S A WIN FOR A PREMIERE PARTY IN HULK’S BOOK. SOMEWHERE TO THE EAST SIDE OF THE BAR THE SCOOTER GIRLS FROM BEFORE ARE DANCING IN ANIMATED FASHION. HULK GETS CLOSE TO LISTEN IN AND ONE OF THEM INDICATES THAT THEIR MASK IS ITCHY AS HELL. IT PROMPTS AN ENTIRE CONVERSATION ABOUT THEIR ENSEMBLE AND HOW THEIR BODIES ARE GOING THROUGH ABJECT WEIRDNESS FROM THE FEELING OF BEING FREEZING WHILE THEIR FACES ARE SO DAMN HOT AND SWEATY. LATER HULK SEES ONE OF THEM WITH IT ROLLED IT UP INTO A KIND OF BEANIE.

MEANWHILE, HULK TRIES TO INTRODUCE HULK-SELF TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE TO GET A SENSE OF WHO IS THERE. THERE ARE A FEW FILMMAKERS HULK CASUALLY KNOWS. THERE ARE PEOPLE FROM ANNAPURNA. CAA. WARNERS-INTERACTIVE. BUT THE REAL COUP OF THE NIGHT SEEMS TO BE HULK GETTING A CHANCE TO BECOME FRIENDLY WITH THE LEGIONS OF P.R. PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD A GRUELING DAY OF GENUINE WORK AND HAVE ANOTHER ONE TOMORROW MORNING. THEY MOSTLY JUST SEEM TO BE ENJOYING THEIR 30 MINUTES OFF. THE TRUTH IS THAT ANY GOOD CONVERSATION CAN MAKE FOR A GOOD AFTERPARTY AND HULK FINDS A WHOLE PLETHORA OF THAT AS THE NIGHT GOES ON.

AND FOR ALL HULK’S CYNICISM, THE KIND THAT COMES WITH GOING TO THESE KINDS OF PARTIES FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND HAVING LONG LOST THOSE STARRY EYES THAT ONE HAD IN THE BEGINNING, THERE IS A MOMENT WHERE EVEN HULK HAD A LITTLE LEAP OF JOY DEEP INSIDE: MARTIN STARR AND JAMES FRANCO HAD A QUICK MOMENT OF INTERACTION AND FOR THAT SPLIT SECOND: THESE VERY REAL PEOPLE JUST REVERTED BACK TO BILL HAVERCHUCK AND DANIEL DESARIO IN HULK’S MIND. AND THAT’S REALLY THE JOY OF CINEMA AND A TESTAMENT TO WHAT STORYTELLERS AND ACTORS CAN DO.

THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAYERS OF OBFUSCATION, THEY CAN MAKE AN UNREALITY FEEL IMPOSSIBLY IMPORTANT.

8. LATE NIGHT CRUISING

MONDAY, MARCH 11TH- 1:38AM

HULK LEAVES THE PARTY WHEN HARMONY AND RACHEL LEAVE THE PARTY. PERHAPS SOMETHING LURID AND INSANE HAPPENED IN THOSE REMAINING 22 MINUTES, BUT HULK KIND OF DOUBTS IT. INSTEAD, HULK TAKES THEIR EXIT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRY AND CATCH SOMETHING THAT IS GOING ON A FEW BLOCKS OVER.

YOU SEE, ABOUT 40 MINUTES PRIOR, JAMES FRANCO LEFT TO GO SHOW HIS AFOREMENTIONED ART PROJECT INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR. AT THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE’S RITZ LOCATION. HULK MAKES HULK’S WAY OVER AND IS ABLE TO CATCH THE END OF THE (ONLY 60 MINUTE) FILM. HULK GETS THERE JUST AS IT IS ENDING AND THUS DOESN’T HAVE NEARLY ENOUGH OF A SAMPLE TO COMMENT (THE CORRECT SAMPLE WOULD REALLY BE “THE WHOLE THING” ANYWAY). BUT IT IS NOW AROUND 2:45 A.M. AND JAMES FRANCO IS STARTING A FREAKIN’ Q+A…IN CASE YOU DIDN’T HEAR HULK, HULK SAID 2:45 A.M.

WITHIN PRESS CIRCLES PEOPLE HAVE LEARNED THAT FRANCO WILL ALWAYS GIVE A 7 MINUTE ANSWER. IN CASE YOU ARE NOT AWARE, THAT’S A REALLY LONG ANSWER. THERE ARE SOME THAT SAY LONG ANSWERS ARE JUST A BLOCKING TACTIC THAT PREVENT YOU FROM ASKING A LOT OF QUESTIONS, BUT MOST OF THE TIME IT’S JUST A SIGN OF BEING A THOUGHTFUL AND VERBOSE INDIVIDUAL. FRANCO’S ANSWERS ALWAYS SPRAWL OUT IN AN ORGANIC, UN-REHEARSED FASHION.

HE STANDS BEFORE THE AUDIENCE AND TALKS OPENLY ABOUT PURSUING THE ENDS OF SEX THAT MAY SEEM TO BE THE MOST TITILLATING AND EXTREME, BUT THEN MAKING THEM A STORYTELLING TOOL. AFTER ALL, EVERYTHING THAT APPEARS IN THE FILM IS THE KIND OF THING THAT HAS BEEN MADE AS A JOKING REFERENCE ON SITCOMS. AND THAT COMMENT GETS AT A REAL TRUTH AS TO THE WAYS WE ALLOW THE HINTING AT SOMETHING UNSEEMLY, BUT NOT THE HONESTY OF WHAT IT REALLY IS. IT REMINDS HULK OF HOW NORM MACDONALD ONCE CALLED THE DOUBLE ENTENDRE THE LOWEST FORM OF COMEDY BECAUSE HE FELT LIKE IT WAS THE LEAST HONEST. FROM THERE FRANCO BRINGS UP THE HONESTY OF TRAVIS MATHEWS AND STARTS TALKING ABOUT THE SAME IDEAS HE PARSED OUT OVER THE W.T.F. PODCAST, THE TOUCHSTONE OF FRIEDKIN’S CRUISING, HOW PISSED HE WAS ABOUT THE BANNING OF MATHEW’S FILM I WANT YOUR LOVE. BUT FRANCO KEEPS TALKING IN 7 MINUTE ANSWERS AND KIND OF TALKING HIMSELF IN CIRCLES, AS IF HE’S TRYING TO FIND WHAT HE REALLY WANTS TO SAY.

IT IS AT THIS MOMENT THAT HULK REALIZES ONE OF THE THINGS HULK LIKES ABOUT FRANCO IS THAT HE NEVER HAS A PERFECT WAY OF EXPRESSING HIS ART PROJECTS. NO, THAT’S FOR THE ART ITSELF AND IT IS SOMETHING WHERE HE CERTAINLY OVERLAPS WITH KORINE. WHILE HULK IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE BIGGEST ADVOCATES OF “HAVING SOMETHING TO SAY” WITH YOUR ART, IT IS A COMMON MISTAKE TO THINK ART HAS TO BE A 1:1 OF MEANING AND INTENTION. ART IS TOO INSTINCTUAL AND VISCERAL A PROCESS. RENDERING IT INTO A COLDLY LOGICAL EXERCISE WILL COME OFF AS JUST THAT (ALTHOUGH, HULK’S WORRY IS ABOUT THE OPPOSITE INCLINATION, WHEREIN PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS THEY ARE SAYING IN ANY CAPACITY, AND OFTEN THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY AT ALL). THE POINT OF THIS ENTIRE DIGRESSION IS THAT THERE HAS TO BE A HAPPY PLACE BETWEEN ARTISTIC INTENTION, HAPPY ACCIDENTS, POST-ARTICULATION AND THE EMBRACE OF AMBIGUITY. AND SURE THE BEST FILMMAKERS ON THE PLANET SEEM TO BE AWARE OF WHICH IS WHAT AND HOW TO BEST MANIPULATE IT, BUT HERE FRANCO IS JUST SO DAMN HONEST ABOUT TRYING TO FIND THAT BALANCE, EVEN IF UNSUCCESSFULLY. REAL ART IS THE WILLINGNESS TO FAIL. AND FRANCO IS MAYBE ONE OF THE ONLY PEOPLE IN HIS POSITION WHO IS TAKING ANY REAL CHANCES. AND THAT IS NOT ONLY SOMETHING WORTHY OF NOT CRITICIZING, BUT WORTHY OF BEING CELEBRATED.

SO FRANCO FINALLY FINISHES UP THE Q+A AND ON THE WAY OUT OF THE RITZ HULK CATCHES UP WITH THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME. APPARENTLY, FRANCO CAME IN FROM THE AFTERPARTY, DID A SERIES OF 1 AM INTERVIEWS (!!!) AND EVEN FILMED ONE OF THE FAMOUS ALAMO “DON’T TALK OR TEXT” PSAS, IN WHICH HE RECREATED THE “LOOK AT MY SHIT” SCENE FROM SPRING BREAKERS, ONLY TALKING ABOUT THE AMENITIES SPECIFIC TO THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE AND THEIR FINE FOOD AND DRINKS. AND NOW, HE’S CAUGHT UP IN EVEN MORE CONVERSATIONS WITH FANS ON THE WAY OUT.

WHEN FRANCO FINALLY EMERGES FROM THE THEATER IT IS ALMOST 4 AM.

HULK LOOKS AT HIM, THE GUY WHO GOT IN AT 1 AM THE NIGHT PREVIOUS, AND NOW REALIZES HE HAS NOW GONE 27 HOURS STRAIGHT IN THE COMMITMENT TO TWO DIFFERENT MOVIES, WHICH CLEARLY MEAN A GREAT DEAL TO HIM. AND ALL THE WHILE HE JUST LAUNCHED A NUMBER ONE FILM IN THE COUNTRY IN SAM RAIMI’S OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL FOR WHICH HE DID AN IMPOSSIBLE AMOUNT OF INTERVIEWS ALREADY. AND YET HE HAS AGREED TO EVERY REQUEST AND EVEN HAD TIME TO ANSWER QUESTIONS FOR A HULK ALONG THE WAY.

PERHAPS HE DESERVES SOME SLEEP.

9. INGÉNUE-ISM IN THE AGE OF DISNEY

MONDAY MARCH 11TH – 11:16 AM

THE NEXT MORNING THE PLAN WAS TO MEET AT 11:30, BUT HULK IS THERE 14 MINUTES EARLY. HARMONY ET AL ARE FINISHING UP SOME ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS AND THERE WILL BE MORE OF THAT AFTER THE DAY’S BIG EVENT, BUT FOR NOW EVERYONE STARTS GATHERING TOGETHER TO HEAD TO THE SCHEDULED SPRING BREAKERS PANEL.

HULK USES THE TIME TO CATCH UP WITH THE P.R. PEOPLE ABOUT THE NIGHT'S FESTIVITIES AND EVERYONE’S COMPLETE LACK OF SLEEP. FIRST HARMONY ARRIVES FOLLOWED BY RACHEL. SOON SELENA SHOWS UP FOLLOWED BY ASHLEY. HULK IMMEDIATELY NOTICES THAT EVERYONE HAS ENTIRE SATELLITES OF P.R. PEOPLE AND HANDLERS AND RELATIVES AROUND THEM. OVER THE NEXT FEW HOURS HULK WILL DO HULK’S BEST TO NAVIGATE THIS SEA OF PROTECTION AND DO HULK’S JOB. BUT ANY TIME YOU ARE DEALING WITH PEOPLE AT THIS LEVEL IT IS DIFFICULT TO DO. ONE IMAGINES THE CAST OF THE MOVIE ALL HANGING OUT IN SOME UNTOUCHED VACUUM, BUT REALLY IT IS THE ASSEMBLAGE OF EVERYONE’S RESPECTIVE CAMPS. STILL, WE ARE READY TO MAKE OUR WAY OVER SO HULK JOINS HARMONY AND RACHEL IN THEIR SUV.

THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT HULK HAS HAD A REAL MOMENT WITH RACHEL AND THE FIRST THING HULK GETS A SENSE OF IS THAT SHE IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLY WITH IT. HAVING ONLY REALLY SEEN HER PLAY THE MOST DIONYSIAN OF THE GIRLS IN THE FILM, HULK HAD ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT TO EXPECT. PERHAPS IT’S JUST THE STARK CONTRAST FROM WHAT WE SEE IN SPRING BREAKERS, OR WHAT ONE IMAGINES IN BEING THE WIFE OF HARMONY KORINE’S PUBLIC PERSONA, BUT SHE REALLY DOES COME OF AS ASSURED, ADULT, MATERNAL AND FULLY IN CONTROL. SHE’S SOFT SPOKEN BUT UNAFRAID TO CRACK JOKES. SHE COMMENTS THAT SHE DOESN’T LIKE WEARING MAKE-UP AND IS WEARING A CASUAL BLACK DRESS WITH WHITE POLKA DOTS AND BRIGHT RED SHOES. WHAT IS SOMEWHAT INTERESTING ABOUT RACHEL KORINE IS HOW MANY PEOPLE FOR WHOM THIS FILM IS THEIR FIRST AWARENESS OF HER AND WHAT THEY WILL THINK. RIGHT NOW, HULK HAS RUN INTO ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE YET TO SEE THE FILM AND JUST ASSUMED SHE WAS HARMONY’S SISTER AND NOT HIS WIFE FOR SOME REASON, WHY THAT IS HULK ISN’T REALLY SURE, PERHAPS BECAUSE CELEBRITY COUPLES RARELY CHANGE NAMES, BUT THEN THERE ARE THOSE WHO DO KNOW THEY ARE MARRIED, BUT JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF THEIR (NOT ALL THAT BIG) AGE DISPARITY. QUITE FRANKLY, IT’S ALL THE KIND OF TOPIC THAT HULK COULDN’T GIVE LESS OF A SHIT ABOUT. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU SIT THERE AND WATCH THESE TWO PEOPLE WHO OBVIOUSLY FUNCTION GREAT AS A COUPLE. THEY CALL EACH OTHER “HARM” AND “RACH” AND GO BACK AND FORTH WITH A KIND OF AFFECTION UNIQUE TO MARRIED COUPLES IN THAT IS AT ONCE AS RELAXED AS IT IS EVIDENT OF BEING SMITTEN. OR AT LEAST THAT’S HOW IT ALL COMES OFF.

ALONG THE WAY TO THE PANEL VENUE, HARMONY AND RACHEL GAWK AT THE CROWDS ROAMING THE STREET. HARMONY POSTULATES ON THE FACT THAT THE FESTIVAL SEEMS LIKE IT IS 90% PERCENT MEN AND WHETHER THAT MEANS IT COULD BE THE INDIE GAY MECCA. HE THEN COMPLIMENTS A GUY WITH A BLUE MOHAWK. HE AND RACHEL BEGIN TO TRY AND REMEMBER THE LAST CRAZY FESTIVAL THEY WERE AT LIKE THIS, AND EVENTUALLY HARMONY SETTLES ON IT BEING CANNES A FEW YEARS AGO WHEN HE WAS THERE “With Gus” (VAN SANT?) AND HOW SOME RIDICULOUS STAR WARS MOVIE PLAYED. IT PROMPTS A WHOLE CONVERSATION ABOUT THE WEIRDNESS OF WHAT KIND OF MOVIES PREMIERE AT WHAT FESTIVAL. BUT IT’S HARD TO ARGUE THAT THE U.S. SPRING BREAKERS PREMIERE OCCURRING DURING SXSW MAKES ALMOST TOO MUCH SENSE (THE FESTIVAL IS HELD DURING SPRING BREAK AT THAT).

WE THEN ARRIVE AT THE BACK OF THE AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER, A MASSIVE COMPLEX WHICH SERVES AS THE HEART OF THE SXSW INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE. THIS EVENT WILL BE HELD IN THE VIMEO ACC THEATER, WHICH IS THE ORDAINED SPOT FOR ALL THE BIG PANELS AND A FEW FILM EXHIBITIONS TOO (IT SEATS ABOUT 650 PEOPLE). WE GO THROUGH THE BACK HALLS OF THE CONVENTION CENTER AND THEN EMERGE INTO A HUMONGOUS DARK ROOM WITH ONLY THE SPAREST OF LIGHTS CRACKING FROM AROUND THE CORNERS TO PROVIDE ILLUMINATION. WE ARE DIRECTED TOWARD THE GREEN ROOM, WHICH IS NOTHING MORE THAN A FEW DARK CURTAINS PUT UP TO THE SIDE OF THE GIANT BACKSTAGE AREA. INSIDE IS RATHER NICE, HOWEVER, REVEALING A SMALL AREA WITH SOME COUCHES, COMFY SEATS AND A BIG OLD PLUSH RUG IN THE MIDDLE. THANKFULLY, THEY ALSO HAVE COFFEE AND REFRESHMENTS TO THE SIDE.

THERE WE MEET JANET PIERSON, THE SXSW FILM “HEAD HONCHO” WHO IS ALL KINDS OF AWESOME AND HULK ALMOST INTRODUCES HULK-SELF BUT CHICKENS OUT. WE ALSO MEET WITH ERIC KOHN, A FANTASTIC WRITER FOR INDIEWIRE AND SOMEONE WHO HULK IS A BIG FAN OF. HE’S GOING TO BE CONDUCTING THE PANEL SO THEY HANDLE INTRODUCTIONS. BUT MOSTLY, PEOPLE TRY TO RELAX. GREEN ROOM CULTURE IS MORE INTERESTING AND PARTICULAR THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT. THEY’RE OFTEN DESIGNED AROUND MAKING YOU HAVE A FEW ALCOHOLIC DRINKS OF CHOICE TO LET PEOPLE TAKE THE EDGE OFF (AT LEAST THIS IS THE PROTOCOL IN THE LATE NIGHT CIRCUIT). BUT THIS IS THE KIND OF EVENT THAT DOESN’T REALLY MAKE FOR CASUAL INCOHERENCY, PLUS IT’S SO EARLY THAT NOBODY WOULD REALLY BE BITING. PLUS, HULK HAS TO STAY ON HULK’S TOES FOR THIS PIECE SO THERE’S NO DRINKING… PLUS, HULK DOESN’T SEE ANY BOOZE AND DOESN’T WANT TO BE THE HULK WHO ASKS.

BUT REALLY, THIS IS HULK’S FIRST TRUE BLUE TIME WITH THE YOUNG INGÉNUES WHO STAR IN THE FILM. FOR THE PANEL, ASHLEY IS WEARING THIS SMALL RED AND PURPLE DRESS WITH ANGULAR DESIGNS WHILE SELENA WEARS A SEAFOAM FORM-FITTING DRESS WITH SMALL SECTIONS OF EXPOSED SKIN ON THE SHOULDERS AND AROUND THE STOMACH FOR SOME REASON… AT THIS POINT YOU HAVE PROBABLY REALIZED THAT HULK KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT FASHION. THE REASON HULK TAKES CARE TO MENTION IT IS THAT IT REALLY DOES SEEM TO BE A TOPIC OF INTEREST TO MANY AND HULK’S DISMISSAL COULD SEEM JUST AS FLIPPANT AS SOLELY CARING ABOUT WHAT THE GIRLS ARE WEARING. WHAT HULK FINDS PARTICULARLY INTERESTING IS THE WAY THE GIRLS’ APPEARANCE DOES NOT MATTER IN HOW THEY LOOK TO YOU IN REAL LIFE, BUT HOW THEY WILL LOOK TO THE ALL-SEEING EYE OF THE CAPTURED IMAGE. AND IN THE HD AGE THAT MEANS POUNDS OF FOUNDATION AND MAKE-UP WITH THIS WEIRD, DARKENED BEIGE TONE THAT MAKES PEOPLE LOOK ALMOST SICKLY IN REAL LIFE, BUT “CORRECT” ON CAMERA. IT’S A REMARKABLY WEIRD TRADE-OFF, BUT ONE THAT HAS BEEN DICTATED AS BEING THE RIGHT CHOICE. AND WHAT IS MORE INTERESTING STILL IS HOW THE GIRLS HAVE BEEN GETTING READY IN FULL HAIR AND MAKE UP FOR HOURS WHILE HARMONY AND ANY OTHER GUY HAS JUST BEEN HANGING OUT. HURRAY FOR THE DOUBLE STANDARD.

STILL, THE ONE THING THAT BECOMES CLEAR BY SIMPLY WATCHING THE INTERACTION AMONG THE THREE GIRLS IS HOW IMPORTANT RACHEL ACTUALLY WAS TO THIS ENTIRE PROCESS. IT’S EASY TO NOT KNOW A THING ABOUT IT AND LOOK AT THE CAST AND ASSUME SHE’S ADDED TO THE MOVIE AS THE “FOURTH GIRL” BECAUSE SHE’S HARMONY’S WIFE, BUT THIS WOULD BE AN INCREDIBLE MISTAKE. BECAUSE IN THAT MOMENT IT STRIKES HULK SO PROFOUNDLY THAT SHE WAS THE LINCHPIN OF THE ENTIRE FILM’S CREATIVE FUNCTION. HARMONY WAS ADAMANT THAT THE GIRLS BECAME FRIENDS BEFORE FILM AND YOU CAN SUDDENLY SEE HOW MUCH THEY GO OFF RACHEL’S LEAD. SHE WAS THE ONE WITH THE OBVIOUS COURAGE AND LED BY EXAMPLE. SHE WAS THE GUIDE AND THE ONE WHO GOT THEM TO TRUST HARMONY. EVEN THOUGH SHE IS CLOSER IN AGE TO THE GIRLS, SHE AND HARMONY HAVE A KID AND STABILITY AND SHE BROUGHT AN INESCAPABLE MATURITY TO THAT DYNAMIC. AND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT HOW THE CHARACTER IS SO DIFFERENT FROM HER ACTUAL SELF, SUDDENLY YOU ARE ABLE TO SEE THAT SHE GAVE A REALLY GREAT PERFORMANCE. PUT IT ALL TOGETHER WITH HER INFLUENCE AND GUIDANCE OF THE GIRLS AND HER CASTING FEELS LIKE A COUP.

MEANWHILE, ASHLEY BENSON SITS ON THE COUCH TALKING TO SOME PEOPLE IN HER CAMP AND AFTER TWO DAYS OF OBSERVING SHE FEELS MORE LIKE A MYSTERY THAN ANYTHING ELSE. SHE IS AT TIMES BOISTEROUS AND BRAZEN, AT OTHER TIMES CAUTIOUS AND QUIET. HULK REALLY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT SHE IS THE ONE WHO SEEMS THE MOST YOUNG AT HEART. THERE’S SOMETHING REFRESHING ABOUT THAT. SHE IS ONLY 23 AFTER ALL AND IN THIS AGE OF STERILE PROFESSIONALISM IT’S NICE TO SEE SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T FEEL LIKE THEY’RE PRETENDING TO BE AN ADULT. WHICH ALSO SOUNDS LIKE A BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT, BUT IT’S MEANT TO BE ANYTHING BUT.

A FEW MINUTES LATER THERE IS SOME DISCUSSION OVER A PLANNED FINALE TO THE Q+A. SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE CAME UP WITH THE IDEA THAT THE GIRLS SHOULD END THE PANEL BY SINGING “HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME” BY BRITNEY SPEARS. AND NOT JUST SING IT, BUT LEAD THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE IN A KARAOKE VERSION. IT SOUNDS LIKE A FUN IDEA, BUT IT’S ALSO ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT COULD GO HORRIBLY. NOBODY WANTS IT TO BE AWKWARD OR STUPID AND NOT EVERYONE HAS THE FRANCO-ESQUE SENSE TO JUST DIVE RIGHT IN AND NOT CARE. EVEN HULK CAME DOWN ON THE SIDE OF ADVISING AGAINST IT. THIS IS A SXSW PANEL CROWD WITH BADGES, NOT THE CROSS-SECTION OF SUPER-FANDOM. HECK, IT EVEN PROMPTS DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE EVEN SEEN THE MOVIE AND WOULD GET THE REFERENCE (SOME ARGUE IT’S OKAY BECAUSE IT’S IN THE TRAILER). ALL AND ALL, IT’S ONE OF THOSE BIG IDEAS THAT IS WEIRD TO PREDICT AND NO ONE WANTS A DISASTER IN THE YOUTUBE ERA.

THEY ALSO PLAN ON HAVING A SEGMENT WHERE THEY INTEND TO ASK FOR EVERYONE’S CRAZIEST SPRING BREAK STORIES, WHICH EVERYONE ASSUMES WILL GO AWESOME AND BE HILARIOUS (HINT: IT DOESN’T AND ISN’T), SO THEY ALL GET TOGETHER AND SIGN A SPRING BREAKERS POSTER, WHICH WILL BE THE TOP PRIZE FOR THE CRAZIEST STORY. ONCE THAT BIT OF BUSINESS IS OVER WITH, PEOPLE FINALLY SETTLE IN AND JUST TALK. THE MAIN TOPIC OF CONVERSATION IS LENA DUNHAM’S GIRLS, WHICH IS APT BECAUSE IT’S PRETTY MUCH THE MAIN TOPIC OF CONVERSATION ACROSS THE BLOGOSPHERE (HULK IS SO SORRY FOR USING THAT WORD). THANKFULLY, ALL PARTIES SEEM TO BE IGNORANT OF THE MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF ABSURD HATE THAT IS HEAPED UPON THE (REALLY GREAT) SHOW AND THUS THEY JUST DO THING THAT FANS DO AND TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY LIKE IT.

AS THEY TALK WITH HARMONY HULK IS SUDDENLY REMINDED OF A COMMENT SOMEONE MADE UPON SEEING THE SPRING BREAKERS TRAILER, THAT THEY FOUND THE GIRLS DOING A MOVIE WITH HARMONY TO BE “PERVY” AND HULK JUST STARTS GETTING MAD APROPOS OF NOTHING. IT IS THE KIND OF FLIP, UNEDUCATED THING THAT GETS SAID A LOT THESE DAYS, BUT IS PERHAPS SYMPTOMATIC OF A CULTURE THAT REALLY DOES OVERVALUE THOSE THINGS. BUT AS A VALID OBSERVATION? NOPE. NOT AT ALL. IT’S AN ASSUMPTION BASED ON A YOUNGER MAN’S MENTALITY AND CINEMA THAT SEEMS EXPLOITATIVE ON THE SURFACE. FORGET THE FACT THAT IT’S AN IMPOSSIBILITY IN THE AGE OF HANDLERS, BUT WHEN YOU JUST WATCH THEIR COLLECTIVE INTERACTION IT FEELS MILES AWAY FROM ACCURACY. YOU CAN JUST TELL WHEN EVERYONE FEELS LIKE EQUALS AND THERE’S MOUNTAINS OF RESPECT AND ADMIRATION AND FRIENDSHIP AND ALL THAT STUFF THAT MAKES FOR SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION. HECK, SELENA’S MOTHER STANDS TO THE SIDE AND AS HULK WILL LEARN OVER THE NEXT FEW HOURS SHE IS ABOUT AS SMART AND ADEPT AS ONE CAN IMAGINE. SHE MAY BE “A SHOWBIZ MOM,” BUT SHE’S A SHOWBIZ MOM WHO SEEMINGLY HAS BOTH GREAT TASTE AND A HUMANE SENSIBILITY.

OH, AND FOR SOME REASON HULK IS STILL UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT EVERYONE IS WAITING FOR FRANCO TO SHOW UP, BUT THAT’S TOTALLY WRONG. KOHN LATER TELLS THE AUDIENCE THAT FRANCO WAS ACTUALLY DOUBLE-BOOKED BECAUSE HE’S DOING ONE OF HIS LITTLE THINGS WHERE HE’S TEACHING A CLASS ON HARMONY KORINE. IT’S A DETAIL THAT HULK CAN NEVER CONFIRM, BUT WOULD BE UNSURPRISING CONSIDERING THAT FRANCO APPARENTLY ONCE TAUGHT A CLASS ON… HIMSELF… SORT OF.

NO, THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT THE GIRLS HAPPEN TO BE STARVING. THEY’VE BEEN DOING INTERVIEWS SINCE 10 AM AND WERE UP FOR HAIR AND MAKE-UP LONG BEFORE THAT, AND IN ALL THE HURRY UP AND WAIT AND TALKING, NOBODY BOTHERED TO ACTUALLY FEED THEM. LUCKILY, SOMEONE HAS COME TO RESCUE AND HULK WATCHES AS SOMEONE SETS DOWN A BIG OLD PILE WHATABURGER FAST FOOD. THE GIRLS ALL PROMPTLY CRASH TO THE RUG AT THE CENTER OF THE FLOOR AND BEGIN TO DIG INTO SAID FAST FOOD, ALL WHILE TRYING TO CONTORT THEIR BODIES IN THESE MULTI-THOUSAND DOLLAR BITS OF RESTRICTIVE CLOTHING AND NOT FUSS UP THEIR ALREADY-APPLIED HAIR AND MAKE-UP.

THE IMAGE CREATED IS A METAPHOR FOR JUST ABOUT A MILLION THINGS INVOLVED WITH THE ONGOING STATE OF DEHUMANIZING AND TROPHY-IZING WOMEN. BUT MORE THAN ANY OF THAT, IT IS THE EXPOSURE OF A UNIQUELY HUMAN MOMENT. THESE GIRLS ARE ALWAYS SUPPOSED TO APPEAR POLISHED AND REFINED. AND IN THE CONSTANT EFFORT TO LIVE UP TO THAT EXPECTATION, THEY HAVE THE NECESSARY TWO SECONDS TO SIT ON THE GROUND AND SIMPLY EAT FOOD. YOUNG INGÉNUES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO SUCH A THING, BUT THAT SAYS WAY MORE ABOUT OURSELVES THAN IT DOES THEM. NO, THEY TAKE THIS CRAP IN STRIDE. THEY LAUGH. THEY TELL STORIES. THEY TALK ABOUT MUSIC. THEY TAKE EXAGGERATED PHOTOS OF THEIR IMPROMPTU MEAL. QUITE SIMPLY, THEY TRANSCEND IT. AND TO ANYONE WHO DOESN’T HAVE A HINT OF EMPATHY FOR THIS SITUATION, GIVEN THAT ALL THESE PEOPLE “GET TO BE” RICH AND SUCCESSFUL MEDIA PERSONAS THEN HULK WOULD LIKE TO POLITELY CALL BULLSHIT. FOR ONE, THAT’S A TERRIBLE ASSUMPTION ABOUT PRIVILEGE STRIPPING DOWN THE BASIC RIGHT TO, LIKE, EAT AND STUFF. AND MORE IMPORTANT TO NOTE IS THAT HARMONY AND HULK AND THE REST OF THE GUYS DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANY KIND OF STIGMA INVOLVED IN ANY OF THIS. IT’S THE SAME OLD DOUBLE STANDARD AND ANY INEQUALITY LIKE THIS IS REPRESENTATIVE OF A GENUINE PROBLEM OF SOCIAL CONTEXT. BUT AGAIN, IN THAT MOMENT THERE’S NO ANGER, OR IRONY OR SHAME COMING FROM ANY OF THEM. HECK, THEY MIGHT NOT EVEN CARE ABOUT THE DAMN CONTEXT. BUT TO HULK IT JUST SEEMS SO DAMN ACHINGLY HUMAN, WHICH REALLY MAKES IT A STARK CONTRAST TO THE EXPECTATIONS OF INGÉNUE-ISM IN THE AGE OF DISNEY.

AFTER FIVE MINUTES OF ALLOWED LUNCHING, EVERYONE IS CALLED TOWARD THE ENTRANCE TO THE PANEL ROOM AND SUDDENLY WE’RE DEALING WITH ONE OF THOSE PROBLEMS NO ONE EVER ANTICIPATES. THE STAGE IS APPROXIMATELY 18 INCHES OFF THE GROUND. A BIG, BUT ACCOMPLISHABLE STEP FOR MOST PEOPLE, BUT THE LADIES ARE PACKED INTO DRESSES AND HIGH HEELS AND NAVIGATING A STEP OF HEIGHT IS BASICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. THE HANDLERS AND STAGE HANDS QUICKLY OFFER TO HOIST THEM UP, BUT THAT SEEMS JUST KIND OF WEIRD AND PERHAPS MORE EMBARRASSING THAN A D.I.Y. APPROACH, SO EVERYONE STARTS SCRAMBLING AROUND THE BACKSTAGE TO LOOK FOR APPLE BOXES (THE MOST USEFUL TOOL ON ANY FILM SET NEXT TO A C-STAND) AFTER A MINUTE, SOMEONE COMES BACK WITH A FEW PERFECTLY SIZED EQUIPMENT CASES AND FASHIONS A MINI-STAIRCASE ALONG THE SIDE OF THE STATE. THERE THEY WAIT WITH A HAND TO ELEGANTLY HELP THE GIRLS NAVIGATE THEIR WAY UP TO THE STAGE.

NOW THAT’S PROBLEM SOLVING.

10. THE WORLD’S MOST STUPID GENIUS

MONDAY MARCH 11TH - 1:08PM

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THIS KIND OF LONG-FORM PANEL IS WHETHER OR NOT THE MODERATOR TRULY “GETS” THE MOVIE. AND THANKFULLY, ERIC KOHN GETS THE MOVIE. HE SEES THE FILM FOR ALL ITS RELATIVE QUALITIES. ITS EXUBERANCE. ITS SATIRE. ITS FORM OF EXPRESSION. AND HE REALLY DOES TRY TO DIG INTO THE MEANINGS OF EACH OF HARMONY’S INTENTIONS, BUT THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT HARMONY DOESN’T REALLY TALK ABOUT HIS FILMS IN THAT WAY.

IT’S NOT LIKE HARMONY IS TRYING TO PURPOSEFULLY OBFUSCATE THE CORRECT INTERPRETATION OR SOME NONSENSE. HE’S NOT EVEN ADVOCATING AMBIGUITY FOR AMBIGUITY’S SAKE. HE IS JUST BEING HONEST TO THE FACT THAT HE REALLY DOESN’T KNOW. HE ADMITS, “I don’t have a relationship with that kind of analysis.” AND WHEN IT COMES TO HIS SUBJECTS HE SAYS, “I don’t want to know why I like it. I don’t like explaining it with words.” BUT AFTER ENOUGH PRODDING HE CAN SORT OF TALK AROUND IT. HE’S EXPLAINS HOW HE’S MORE INTERESTED IN THE MOVIE AS A PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE THAN A CEREBRAL ONE, WHICH IS ACTUALLY THE MEASURE OF HOW MOST ARTISTS MANAGE TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE. HE DOESN’T WANT IT TO BE CALCULATED. HE ADVOCATES HAVING A GOOD SENSE OF WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR, BUT YOU CAN’T FORCE IT. YOU HAVE TO FIND IT AND YOU HAVE TO BE OPEN TO WHEN IT CHANGES AND THEN FIND IT AND THEN HELP SHAPE IT DURING PRODUCTION AND EDITING. THAT’S HOW HE BUILDS HIS ONGOING SENSIBILITY AND HOW HE NOW UNLEASHES THE “pop poem” THAT IS SPRING BREAKERS.

AT ONE POINT KOHN ASKS A VALID QUESTION ABOUT RACHEL’S NUDITY IN THE FILM AND ANY DIFFICULTIES EITHER HAD IN FILMING IT (THANKFULLY HE ASKS THAT WITH FAR MORE TACT THAT HULK HAS SEEN ANYONE ASK IT YET, AS OTHER HAVE BEEN… UGH). HARMONY’S REVEALS THAT IT WASN’T ALL THAT DIFFICULT AS HE REALLY DOES HAVE THE ABILITY TO SEPARATE THOSE CONCERNS WHEN HE’S MAKING A MOVIE. AND THE MORE RESPECT HE GIVES HER AS AN ACTRESS, THE BETTER A PERFORMANCE RACHEL IS ABLE TO GIVE IN RETURN. IF ANYTHING, HE SAYS THE EXPERIENCE ONLY INCREASED HIS RESPECT AND ADORATION OF HER.

KOHN TURNS HIS ATTENTION DOWN THE LINE AND AFTER HEARING A FEW MORE ANSWERS FOR A CERTAIN INDIVIDUAL, HULK REALIZES THAT THE PERSON HULK HAS BEEN MOST IMPRESSED BY IN THE LAST 24 HOURS IS ABSOLUTELY SELENA GOMEZ.

GOING INTO THIS EMBEDDED COVERAGE HULK HAD ONE SIMPLE QUESTION PLANNED FOR HER: “WHY? WHY DID YOU WANT TO MAKE THIS MOVIE? DID YOU SEE TRASH HUMPERS AND THINK ‘YUP, THIS IS FOR ME!’?”

IT TURNS OUT THAT’S ALMOST EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. THE CONVERSATION BEGINS WITH HER ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT YOUNG INGÉNUES IN THE DISNEY AGE HAVE TO EVENTUALLY MOVE PAST IT AND TRY TO FIND A WAY TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN ADULT FARE. GOMEZ OBSERVES THE INHERENT TRUTH THAT: “There’s no right or wrong way to do this gracefully.” FROM THERE SHE LAUNCHES INTO A STORY ABOUT HER MOTHER / MANAGER BEING A BIG HARMONY KORINE FAN (WHICH PROMPTLY MAKES HULK FEEL OLD) AND SO THEY READ THE SCRIPT TOGETHER AND TALKED ABOUT THE MEANING AND IMPORT OF WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE STORY. AND THEN THEY WATCHED ALL OF HARMONY’S MOVIES AND, YES, TRASH HUMPERS WAS INDEED HER FAVORITE. FROM THERE SHE SIGNED ON. AFTER THE PANEL SELENA ADMITTED THAT SO OFTEN THERE ARE PRATFALLS IN THESE KIND OF CAREER DECISIONS AND SO MANY END UP DOING SOME KIND OF RATED R OR B-MOVIE THAT JUST SORT OF FAKES THE MATURITY. AND THIS WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PART OF A REAL-DEAL ART FILM. IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRANSCEND ALL THAT. AND HULK THINKS SHE NOT ONLY TRANSCENDED THE QUAGMIRE OF SOMETHING THAT CANNOT BE DONE GRACEFULLY, BUT IN DOING SO SHE ALSO GAVE HULK THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER TO HULK’S QUESTION.

THE PANEL THEN HAD A HUGE SURPRISE.

BACK WHEN HARMONY WAS 15 YEARS OLD, HE APPARENTLY WROTE A PIECE OF CREATIVE WRITING THAT HIS TEACHER THOUGHT SHOWED PROMISE. MOST OF THE TIME THIS SORT OF ENCOURAGEMENT NEVER HAPPENED TO HIM AND HE WASN’T A VERY GOOD STUDENT, JUST SOME SKATEBOARDER KID IN A TIME BEFORE THAT HAD ANY CACHET. BUT THIS TEACHER ASKED HIM WHAT HE WANTED TO DO AND HE SAID HE LIKED MOVIES SO SHE ENCOURAGED HIM TO TAKE THE WRITING AND APPLY FOR A GRANT AND MAKE A FILM ABOUT IT. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HARMONY DID. BUT SINCE ITS COMPLETION IT HAS SPENT AN ETERNITY LOST SOMEWHERE IN HARMONY’S BASEMENT AND THUS HAD NEVER BEEN SHOWN IN PUBLIC.

UNTIL NOW.

THE FILM IS CALLED A BUNDLE A MINUTE AND IT IS AMAZING HOW GOOD IT IS. IT IMMEDIATELY SHOWCASES’ HARMONY’S INTEREST IN WEIRD DETAILS, HAREBRAINED STORY LOGIC AND A PREOCCUPATION WITH THE SEEDIER PARTS OF SOCIETY. HE GIVES THIS GREAT VOICE OVER, WHICH HE JOKED ABOUT EARLIER, SAYING HE SOUNDING LIKE A “Young Southern W.C. Fields.” IT’S THE STORY OF A TEENAGER RECOUNTING HIS LIFE AND HIS WEIRD EXTENDED FAMILY. THE NARRATOR TALKS ABOUT HIS UNCLE EATING FISH EYES AT WEIRDLY SPECIFIC INTERVALS, HIS FAMILY DYING, BEING FORCED OUT ONTO THE STREETS, ROBBING STORES, GOING TO JAIL AND EVENTUALLY LEARNING MODERN DANCE TECHNIQUES, BUT ALL BEING TOLD WITH A SENSE OF GENUINE ENTHUSIASM. THERE’S EVEN SOME SHADES OF KIDS IN THERE, ALBEIT WITH HARMONY’S NATURAL WEIRDNESS ALREADY INGRAINED. THERE’S ONE MOMENT THAT’S ALMOST PROPHETIC WHEN THE NARRATOR CALLS HIMSELF “The world’s most stupid genius,” WHICH IS PRECISELY HOW A LOT OF CRITICS WOULD SOON TAKE HIM AT FACE VALUE (WITHOUT LOOKING ALL THAT MUCH DEEPER). THE FILM IS CLEARLY SHOWS US HARMONY, THE YOUNG LIAR, THE FLIPPANT CHILD, SPINNING A WEB OF HALF-TRUTHS TO ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN. BUT REALLY HE’S JUST HARMONY THE YOUNG STORYTELLER.

IT ALSO TURNS OUT THAT THE VERSION THAT WAS JUST SHOWN WAS NOT THE FINISHED FILM. THIS VERSION NOT ONLY HAD THE TIME CODE RUNNING, BUT IT DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THE SCORE. HARMONY SPENT ITS ENTIRE DURATION ON THE GROUND FEELING MORTIFIED, BARELY ABLE TO WATCH THROUGH HIS FINGERS. TO THE AUDIENCE, WE DIDN’T NOTICE AND IT WAS SOME REALLY EFFECTIVE ORIGINAL STORYTELLING. BUT TO A FILMMAKER, WATCHING YOUR WORK WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG IS LIKE GIVING BIRTH TO SOME CRONENBERGIAN HORROR. HECK, IT’S THE REASON MOST CINEMATOGRAPHERS HULK KNOWS CAN BARELY GO TO THE CINEMA FOR FEAR OF ILL PROJECTION.

HARMONY SETTLES DOWN AND THE CONVERSATION SOON SHIFTS AWAY FROM THE SHORT AND COMES BACK TO SPRING BREAKERS AND THE INFLUENCES THAT LED HARMONY TO THAT SUBJECT MATTER. HE HITS A LOT OF THE SAME NOTES AS THE W.T.F. CONVERSATION: THE SUBCULTURE, THE GIRLS GONE WILD, THE COLLECTING OF THE IMAGERY. BUT HE THEN TELLS SOME STORIES ABOUT HIS REAL ON THE GROUND RESEARCH IN FLORIDA, WHERE HIS COHABITORS WOULD BE “Blasting Taylor Swift, leaving vomit on the doorway and snorting donuts.” ALL GREAT DETAILS, BUT HARMONY TRIES TO PERSUADE THE AUDIENCE THAT’S IT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT SPECIFIC DETAILS. INSTEAD, IT’S ABOUT THE LANGUAGE. ITS AFFECTATION HAS TO BE MORE LIKE POP MUSIC. IT’S A SONG THAT GETS IN YOUR HEAD. IT’S LIKE ALIEN’S IMPROMPTU NURSERY RHYME AT THE PIANO OF “Four little chickies.” AND TO CREDIT THE CRAFTING OF THIS LANGUAGE, HARMONY THANKS HIS GREAT EDITOR DOUG CRISE, WHO WAS ABLE TO FASHION THE ELLIPTICAL EDIT FOR THE FILM LIKE AN ELECTRONIC LOOP IN MUSIC, WHICH HARMONY SAYS HELPED HIM ACHIEVE HIS GOAL OF “blasting time.” MUCH IS MADE OF THE FILM’S BEAUTIFUL CINEMATOGRAPHY AS WELL AND IT IS CERTAINLY DEPARTURE FROM HARMONY’S USUAL SCRATCHY, HOMESPUN LOOK. BUT HARMONY INSISTS “Cameras are just an instrument. They make the tone.” BUT REALLY IT’S ABOUT HOW THEY HELP YOU CREATE THE SENSE OF YOUR WORLD. HARMONY SAYS HE’D SHOOT ON ANY MEDIUM AS LONG AS IT HELPED BUILD THE WORLD THAT HE WAS LOOKING TO MAKE.

THERE’S A REVEALING MOMENT WHEN KOHN ASKS EACH OF THE GIRLS WHAT THE MOST DIFFICULT THING WAS IN SHOOTING THE FILM AND HULK WAGERS THAT BOTH HE AND EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE WAS EXPECTING THEM TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE TABOO NUDITY OR EXPOSURE TO SEX, BUT INSTEAD THEY SAY THAT IT WAS ALL THE SCENES OF VIOLENCE THAT GAVE THEM THE MOST PAUSE. TO HULK, IT’S ONE OF THOSE FOREHEAD-SLAPPING MOMENTS THAT SAYS EVERYTHING ABOUT HOW WE VIEW AMERICAN CINEMA AND HOW IT DIRECTLY COUNTERS OUR HUMAN EXPERIENCE. FOR AMERICAN CINEMA IS ALL ABOUT THE GLORIOUS INDULGENCE OF VIOLENCE AS CATHARSIS AND HOW SEX SHOULD FEEL LIKE RESERVED TITILLATION. BUT ASHLEY, SELENA AND RACHEL ALL CONFIRM THAT OUR REAL-LIFE SENTIMENT IS THE OPPOSITE. OUR NATURAL DISPOSITION SHOULD BE (AND FREQUENTLY IS) VIOLENCE FEELING UNNATURAL. AND SEXUALITY / PHYSICAL CONTACT? IT SHOULD BE A POSITIVE ACTION THAT MOST PEOPLE ENGAGE IN EVERYDAY. IT SHOULD FEEL WAY MORE NATURAL. SO WHY WERE OUR EXPECTATIONS THE OPPOSITE? WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT US? IS IT JUST THE CULTURE OF MOVIES? IS IT SOME SPECIFIC MALE VIEW THAT MAKES US AUTOMATICALLY THINK THAT WAY? HOW DOES THIS DISPARITY HAPPEN SO EASILY? WHEN DID WE GET SO SCREWED UP?

THAT QUESTION LINGERS IN HULK’S BRAIN AS HARMONY RATTLES OFF THE LAST FEW ANSWERS THAT HE HAS BEEN FORCED TO GIVE A MILLION TIMES BY NOW. THIS SORT OF MOMENT IS INEVITABLE IN FOLLOWING SOMEONE AROUND WHILE THEY DO THEIR PRESS ROUNDS. YOU BEGIN TO SEE THE SEAMS OF WHAT HULK CALLS THE THOUGHT BUBBLE SINGULARITY. BUT THERE REALLY IS SOMETHING IMPORTANT UNDER ALL OF IT. DESPITE ALL THE HONEST ANSWERS, HARMONY INSISTS “I don’t want to know what people think.” HE DOESN’T WANT TO UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS THAT DRIVES HIM. HIS INSPIRATION COMES FROM SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE REALM OF PERFECT UNDERSTANDING. HE’S NOT AFRAID FOR IT TO BE COMPLICATED. AND IT IS HONEST BECAUSE IT REFLECTS THE UTTER TRUTH ABOUT HIS (AND THEREBY OUR) ATTRACTION TO FRINGE CULTURE, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY UNDERSTANDING THAT IT’S A FRINGE CULTURE FOR A REASON. IT’S NOT INDICTMENT. IT’S NOT INDULGENCE. IT’S JUST A PURE EXPRESSION OF IT.

OH, AND THAT BRITNEY SPEARS SONG EVERYONE WAS SUPPOSED TO SING AT THE END? WELL, EVERYONE DIDN’T PARTICIPATE, BUT INSTEAD RUSHED TO THE STAGE TO FILM THE GIRLS… AND THEY ABSOLUTELY KILLED IT.

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU EXPECT FROM PROFESSIONALS?

11. EXEUNT

SUNDAY MARCH 11TH - 3:14PM

EVERYONE EMERGES FROM BACKSTAGE AND SLOWLY POURS OUT INTO THE BACK HALLS OF THE CONVENTION CENTER. HARMONY CONTINUES TO BE MORTIFIED THAT HIS SHORT WAS MISSING THE MUSIC, AND HULK ASSURES HIM THAT IT STILL WENT OVER GREAT (WHICH IT DID). THEY ALL HOP INTO THE SUVS, BUT WE HAVE SOMEHOW AMASSED MORE PEOPLE THAN WE CAME WITH, SO HULK AND A FELLOW P.R. PERSON DECIDE TO WALK THE MONSTROUS STRETCH OF THREE WHOLE BLOCKS BACK TO THE FOUR SEASONS.

NATURALLY, WE BEAT THEM THERE BY ABOUT 6 MINUTES.

HARMONY AND RACHEL ARE THE FIRST ONES BACK AND THAT MEANS IT IS TIME TO SAY OUR GOODBYES. HE SEEMS INSTANTLY SADDENED BY THIS AND IMMEDIATELY ASKS IF HULK HAS GOTTEN ENOUGH GOOD STUFF. HE SAYS TO CONTACT HIM ANY TIME DAY OR NIGHT IF HULK HAS ANY QUESTIONS AND WE BOTH THANK EACH OTHER FOR EVERYTHING IN THE PAST BIT OF WHIRLWIND OF TWO DAYS.

IN ALL THAT TIME, HULK NEVER SAW A PERSON THAT FELL IN LINE WITH THE WORST ASSUMPTIONS OF HIS PUBLIC IMAGE. HULK NEVER SAW ANYONE THAT SEEMED UNHINGED, OR ALOOF OR WHATEVER YOU MAY ASSUME HE’S LIKE BECAUSE OF HIS CINEMA OR TALK SHOW APPEARANCES FROM TWO DECADES AGO. IN FACT, HE WAS QUITE THE OPPOSITE. SOMEONE WHO WAS KIND AND FRIENDLY. SOME WHO LIKED LAUNCHING INTO LONG, INTIMATE STORIES AT A MOMENT'S NOTICE. MAYBE IT’S JUST BECAUSE THERE WERE NO CAMERAS OR OPPORTUNITIES TO PLAY WITH THE INTERVIEWER. THERE WAS JUST A HULK STANDING THERE LURKING ABOUT. AND IN DOING SO HULK WAS ABLE TO JUST GET A LOOK AT A THOUGHTFUL ARTIST WHO HAD A LOT OF TIME TO STAND AROUND AND WAIT AND BE NERVOUS. LIKE HULK SAID, IT’S A UNIQUE SITUATION IN WHICH TO OBSERVE SOMEONE. AND SADLY, THERE’S STILL MORE WAITING HE WILL HAVE TO DO. FOR IN THAT MOMENT HARMONY IS OFF TO DO MORE ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS, FOLLOWED BY MORE INTERVIEWS, AND MORE HOTEL ROOMS AND THEN FINALLY THEIR SXSW EXPERIENCE WILL BE OVER.

BUT WITHIN 24 HOURS THEY WILL BE OFF IN NEW YORK TO QUITE LITERALLY DO IT ALL AGAIN. TALKING TO MORE PEOPLE LIKE HULK. DELIVERING THE SAME-ISH ANSWERS. THERE IS AN INSATIABLE DEMAND, A NEED TO FEED THE LARGER BEAST OF INFLUENCE: THE MARKETING MACHINE. THAT’S THE REALITY OF THE PROMOTIONAL TOUR.

AND HULK WISHES THEM ALL WAY MORE THAN LUCK.

12. A PURE EXPRESSION

DURING THE TRU TV SPECIAL, THERE’S A SCENE WHERE HARMONY TAKES GASPAR TO A SCRAP YARD (BECAUSE WHY NOT) AND AT THE BOTTOM OF A TRASH PILE IS A BIG PUDDLE OF THE GROSSEST LOOKING WATER YOU’VE EVER SEEN. HARMONY INSTANTLY GOES TO THE MOST PARALYZING QUESTION POSSIBLE: “Would you drink a gallon of that to save someone’s life?” GASPAR ASKS IF IT IS SOMEONE HE KNOWS AND HARMONY SAYS NO, IT’S JUST THE WORTH OF A HUMAN LIFE. THIS SORT OF MORAL COMPLICATION IS WHERE HARMONY LOVES TO EXPLORE. JUST A FEW SCENES LATER HE WILL BE TAKING GASPAR TO THE GUN RANGE AND HE INSTANTLY STARTS GIVING THE PEOPLE ON THE TARGETS A NAME AND AN INNOCENT BACK-STORY. AGAIN, HE’S GOING TO THE SAME PLACE OF MORAL CONFLAGRATION.

TO HULK, THIS IS THE TRUE POWER OF TELLING STORIES AS A HYPER-REALITY. IT’S THE ABILITY TO ASK THE MOST COMPLICATED QUESTIONS BY GOING TO THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE PLACE AND GETTING US THERE IN A VISCERAL WAY. IT PUSHES US INTO BEING TOTALLY AWARE OR IT DRAGS US THERE BY OUR MOST INDULGENT OF WANTS. THAT’S THE CINEMA OF HARMONY KORINE. AND HE GETS US THERE BY FOLLOWING HIS OWN INSTINCTS. QUITE HONESTLY, HULK FINDS HIS METHODOLOGY TO BE SOMEWHAT REMARKABLE. BUT HEY, SOME DISAGREE. THEY DON’T LIKE THE SEEDINESS. THEY DON’T LIKE “THE LIE.” IT’S A SHAME BECAUSE THEY’RE MISSING A GUY WHO TAKES ON THE WORLD OF JOHN WATERS AND EXPRESSES IT IN A MICHEL GONDRY-LIKE PLAYFUL ABSURDITY.

BUT MAYBE THE BEST THING ABOUT THE LAST TWO DAYS IS THAT HULK REALIZES THAT IT IS HARMONY’S OWN PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE MATERIAL, HIS OWN ATTRACTION, HIS OWN FASCINATION WITH FRINGE CULTURE AND THE WILLINGNESS TO CONTEXTUALIZE IT THAT MAKES IT ALL WORK. AND IT WON’T TRULY RESONATE WITH US UNLESS WE CAN BE HONEST ABOUT THAT INCLINATION IN OURSELVES. WITH MOVIES LIKE SPRING BREAKERS, WITH ITS WAFTING HYMNAL APPROACH TO DEBAUCHERY, HE’S GIVING US A MEDITATIVE OPPORTUNITY TO SWIM IN OUR OWN COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.

AND IT CONNECTS WITH US BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE HE LIVES.

ZOOMING RIGHT BACK TO A MOMENT JUST BEFORE THE PANEL STARTED, EVERYONE STOOD THERE WAITING FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE CALLED UP ON STAGE AS SKRILLEX’S “SCARY MONSTERS AND NICE SPRITES” WAS BLASTING OVER THE SOUND SYSTEM. IN FRONT OF HARMONY, SELENA AND ASHLEY STARTED BOBBING THEIR HEADS TO THE MUSIC. SOON RACHEL, HARMONY, EVERY BODYGUARD / HANDLER ARE EVEN DOING IT TOO; SO MUCH SO THAT IT OVERWHELMS EVERYTHING AND TURNS INTO SOME FULL-ON DUBSTEP DANCING. THE MOMENT IS SO GENUINE AND SO MUCH FUN THAT SUDDENLY NO ONE CARES ABOUT THEIR HAIR COMING UNDONE, OR THEIR DRESSES RIPPING, OR GETTING ALL HOT AND SWEATY BEFORE GOING ON CAMERA, OR EVEN CARING ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO SAY. IT IS A MOMENT OF UNABASHED FUN REGARDLESS OF CONSEQUENCES AND WHOLLY SYMBOLIC OF EVERY IMPULSE IN THE FILM. IT MAY SOUND TRITE TO THINK OF IT LIKE THIS, BUT FOR EVERY CRITICISM THE FILM MAKES ABOUT INDULGENT LIFESTYLES, ALL THE DETAILS, ALL THE REAL ACTORS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, ALL THE URGES (UNBRIDLED OR OTHERWISE) ARE BORN FROM VERY PRIMAL INSTINCTS WITHIN ALL OF US. AND THEY CAN POP OUT AT A MOMENTS NOTICE IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT. AND IN THAT MOMENT OF SILLY DANCING, EVERYTHING ABOUT HARMONY’S WORK FEELS GENUINE. THE KID WHO MADE THAT SHORT WHEN HE WAS 15 IS NOW CONTORTING HIS BODY AWKWARDLY TO A SKRILLEX SONG FROM HIS MOVIE. HE WENT OUT INTO THE WORLD AND HE FOUND SOMETHING REAL. HE FOUND SOMETHING THAT WAS INNATE TO HIS BEING AND HIS ART. AND HE FOUND THE PEOPLE WHO COULD HELP TURN THAT INTO A PURE EXPRESSION. AND IN THAT ONE MOMENT IT MAKES EVERYTHING FEEL SO DAMN OBVIOUS. HULK SWEARS TO YOU…

HARMONY KORINE ISN’T LYING.

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