Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

Blu-Ray Rating: ****

Reviewed by: David Graham

Read Neil Mitchell's film review of Spring Breakers

A generous crop of special features – including Korine’s first commentary, perhaps a sign of his growing commercial viability as well as his increased comfort with his work – sadly prove to be a little under-cooked, while their distribution throughout the package and in unnecessarily pretentious menus can be frustrating. Fortunately, the actual presentation of the feature is outstanding, and will be the main reason for most of its fans to plump for HD – anything less doesn’t do Korine’s vision justice.

That commentary is a somewhat bewildering affair: as if the film itself wasn't spaced out enough, having Harmony drawl along makes it even more so. Much of his commentary is literally him describing what he's seeing as if it wasn't even him that put it there, which is amusing to an extent (at times it’s like watching with Butthead), but also frustrating - he doesn't always make a good case for the movie's depth. Then again, he's always maintained he only makes films to create images he's never seen before, and his description of the girls' twisted bodies as 'sculpture' definitely emphasizes how visually he conceives his art, while he discusses the way he was inspired by electronic music to make a film that loops and has a liquid narrative rhythm.

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Elsewhere, he genuinely shows how much he feels attached to the grotesque misfits and disturbed kids he populates his scripts with, especially apparent when he makes the simple observation of being fascinated by car parks because of the amount of time he spent in them growing up, causing havoc because there was nothing else to do. He also highlights how he really wanted the characters to mean what they say in their more intimate moments - such as the frequent calls to family overlaid jarringly upon their outrageous shenanigans - and social concern shines through in his observations of how kids are raised watching street-fight clips on Youtube and that to many of them 'porn is romance now'.

At one point he has the gall to ask, 'Spring Break - what does it mean?' Tellingly, he doesn't have an answer. At least he admits it's more of a 'feeling [he's] chasing, trying to make connections', the visceral nature of his work speaking for itself. He also fights his corner in deliberately avoiding some of the clichés teens-in-trouble flicks usually entail, from the (non-)rape issue to the girls getting away with it all, emphasizing how this is all meant to be the sort of heightened fantasy that the characters themselves might have.

The other featurettes on the Blu Ray are actually just little EPK-style snippets that average around a minute each – they’re pretty pointless, although they do hint at both the fun the film-makers had and the artistry that went into its creation. There’s also a drawn-out compendium of ‘Making Of’ footage, which again shows everyone enjoying themselves but putting a lot of thought and effort into everything that made it to the screen. The obligatory trailer offers another example of studios pushing products through misrepresentative marketing – there’s little sense of the dreamy, art-house quality of the actual film, nor how dark it eventually gets, so it’s no wonder much of its audience have been disappointed and bewildered.

Bizarrely, the most substantial features are on the DVD (although there’s no SD copy of the film) – Behind Spring Breakers offers an enlightening overview, where James Franco confirms how he was attracted by the contradictory nature of the script and Selena Gomez waffles on a bit about how much her fans mean to her while expressing a desire to cut the cord by making this movie. There’s a tangible sense of spontaneity and ingenuity in the collaborative process – Debie and Martinez wax lyrical about their experience - while the gaze of the media and necessity to corral so many rowdy extras prove a necessary evil that the film-makers acknowledge as being inextricable from the kind of provocation Korine is chasing. Harmony’s Ear Candy further details the influence the director’s listening habits have had on the film, while Martinez openly discusses his approach to the material, proving amusingly honest about his initial reservations with the direction Korine was taking. Finally, an inexplicably deleted scene and some reasonably entertaining outtakes are included.

It’s a shame the Vice documentaries – including one about the ATL twins – from the US release aren’t included, but overall it’s the A/V presentation that’s most important with this film, and it’s here that the Blu Ray becomes essential. The film’s fans will want to return to it repeatedly to unpick its web of conflicting ideas, and the lush picture and superlative sound make doing so a pleasure. There’s a fine layer of authentic cinematic grain while colors pop exactly the way the director intended – the costumes, the skylines, the neon lighting are all ravishing – and the score is done full justice by the bombastic but well-balanced audio. There’s also a code included for a trendy Ultraviolet digital download, making it even easier to expose Spring Breakers virgins to its dubious delights. It’s a showcase Blu Ray for sure, and it could even convert some non-believers to both the format and the film. Here’s hoping.

Reviewed on: 18 Aug 2013
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Spring Breakers packshot
Four college students form an unlikely allegiance with a drug dealer.
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Product Code: B00BIJBGB4

Region: B

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