Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Tops of 2013 - April

SPRING BREAKERS was a dirty joy. Ravishingly captured and grooving to a dark beat by Cliff Martinez and Skrillex, the film told an oblique tale about testing the moral depravity of humans and featuring a great performance by James Franco. Spring Break Forever!

STORAGE 24 has only one outstanding feature: it's British. Other than that, it is just another film suited for Syfy Saturdays. Unlikable characters, a dismal set, slow pacing, and an lame twist ending all plague it from being a worthy rental.

TO THE WONDER was absolutely boring. The story(?) was way too weak and punishingly cyclical. No beautiful images, no transcendance.

TRANCE was perplexing and can be interpreted into different ways. Despite its style over substance approach, the normal behavior of director Danny Boyle, the film kept my interest.

THE CROODS was a very enjoyable and funny animated flick, full of looney gags and a plethora of creative designs.

OBLIVION was a giant snore with misogyny. It's not Tom Cruise's fault but the banal direction and production work. A hodge-podge of easy twists and better sci-fi films.

Best Films of 2013

1. Spring Breakers

2. The Croods

3. Side Effects

Worst Films of 2013

1. A Good Day to Die Hard

2. To the Wonder

Monday, April 29, 2013

Brief Film Reviews - April 2013

From time to time, I forget or not motivated enough to write a full length review for every single film I have seen in theaters.

As to catch up, here are some short form reviews:


Angry at the fact that Christopher Nolan is the new champion of British Surrealism, former wunderkind Danny Boyle delivers his strange take of INCEPTION plot struggles and mind-bending contrivances. James MacAvoy is Simon, a lowly nobody who becomes the inside man for a group of gangsters, helping them steal a Goya painting put up for sale. He makes the staged struggle too good, getting an improvised shotgun butt to the noggin, and receives the classic case of amnesia. The Vincent Cassel-led gangsters come a-calling when it is revealed that Simon double crossed them and they use a female psychiatrist played by Rosario Dawson to jog Simon's memory and locate the painting's whereabouts. This search leads to darker imagery and hidden complications but the film is so messed up and hard to understand, even by the end where another major twist causes the whole film to be questioned. Despite its faults in conveying its complete story, the movie has some breathtaking shots, a fine musical score, and daring performances by the main three actors. You'll be bamboozled and snookered constantly but it's an interesting ride for sure.


The Croods

THE CROODS is the latest 3D animated film to implement the recently popular trend of parental issues into its main proceedings. Nicolas Cage voices Grug, the head of the titled caveman family, whose ideals to stay forever isolated in the protective shelling of a cave is literally crushed due to the uncontrollable separation of the continents and the intervention of a brain-using stranger named Guy. As they make the trek to the promise land of "Tomorrow", the family meet an imaginative cast of oddball creatures and learn advanced ways of human life. Writer-directors Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders certainly have made an exciting and humorous prehistoric adventure, full of the great gags, clever exchanges, and some heartbreaking moments. Of course, the show really goes to the fine people at Dreamworks Animation, who supplied some amazing character movements and expert comedic timing, when they are not crafting some breathtaking visual artistry such as a sequence where the characters are literally walking on the clouds. The star-laden cast certainly play well off of each other and never feel distracting to their status. Instead, they create a lovable family that viewers would like to follow and go back to.



Tom Cruise's latest film to stay relevant in big-time Hollywood features is never invigorating either in violent action or mental thought. Cruise is Jack Harper, a robot drone repairman who with his female partner (Andrea Riseborough) oversee the apocalyptic ruins of America from the wandering aliens who helped destroy it. They are about to leave the planet to join with the rest of humanity on Titan, only to find that nothing is what it seems and a mysterious woman (Olga Kurylenko) holds the key to Jack's memory-wiped past. There's no shocking surprises, no interesting angles, nor a unique sci-fi look to the picture because this film snatches from nearly all of them: The first half flows exactly like WALL-E but with no joy, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and MOON are cribbed wholesale, and the whole productional design feels like the leftovers of TRON: LEGACY (no surprise since they share the same director). Once the predictable twists come out and the cast expands, it gets a bit easier to digest its shallowness. The sole exception is the film's nauseating gender politics, where women are constantly shown to be weak-willed, catty, robotically evil, or silent in the background. At least it had a great score and ending theme, supplied by the electronica group M83.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Trailer Review - Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World
Teaser Trailer
Watch It Here

Person of Interest: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster (a.k.a. damsel in distress), Christopher Eccleston is the film's heavy Malekith the Accursed, Jaimie Alexander as the jealous Sif, Anthony Hopkins as the concerned Odin, Rene Russo as the sneering Frigga, one lined Kat Dennings, a brief blink of Ray Stevenson's Volstagg, and the mighty return of Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

Scene Pop: The final reveal.

Briggs Breakdown: 8 key lines, 2 Odin transports, 11 windows destroyed, a super-villain prison cell sure to be broken, a spaceship crash, a levitating truck (the hell?), a giant rock (the hell??), a laser battle in the forest, and medieval mayhem.

Effective?: In a way, yes. I know this is a teaser but it still feels a little too vague. I'm more interested in the in and outside fighting going on in Asgard than the boring giant black rock and smoke invading into our world. It's also clearly baiting the audience with its allusions to The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

Check it Out?: Definitely. It is the second challenging test of the Phase Two operation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it's sure to decimate the competition in the usually weak month of October. The stakes look to be high, beyond the "menacing" rock of course, and it seems to be hinting at the possible demise of Natalie Portman to reach its Shakespearean quota.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To the Wonder - Review

TO THE WONDER is a complete blunder. I had to do that; I had to make a terrible joke in order to derive a pinch of dumb joy from the colossal boredom this film inflicted. It is not the absolute worst to be seen this year, since it at least has ambition, but Terence Malick unleashes a script with no direction, characters with no smiles, a camera with no stillness, and an editing job that is cut like a music video for the pedantic musical score. Worst yet, there is no theme or pro-nature message that is to be expected from the reclusive auteur, unless it is that Oklahoma has no beautiful mornings and everyone is a Pore Jud.

The story, which was constructed on the fly during its filming, is a worn-out paper towel of tropes and cliches that are not even suitable for a fourth-rate soap opera. Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko are a couple in France. They have no names given nor would it ultimately matter. Olga has a daughter. The two travel with Ben to the United States. They leave. Olga comes back. Melodramatic nonsense and then credits. Rachel McAdams fits somewhere in the picture but because she's kinda interesting, a farmer's daughter whose land is possibly falling apart, her time is heavily truncated. Also, Javier Bardem is a priest because.

None of the actors are to blame for this mess since they were given nothing and if they did, Malick decided to just expunge it and/or place more faux poetic voiceover. Affleck's number of lines can be counted on one hand and he spends the rest of the time sulking or lugging his beefcake body around. McAdams is a glorified cameo, a person designed to be included solely for the production stills. Bardem has no arc or importance to the main plotline, only to constantly talk about how God is kinda of a jerk and he should, like, help us, you know? That leaves Kurylenko to keep the film afloat through her many forced instances of running, jolting, bouncing, and collapsing. Emmanuel Lubezki's camera could be shoved up her nose and it still wouldn't make her character interesting at all beyond her batshit insanity and wet blanket demeanor. The only character I felt for was Sonic. Not the blue hedgehog but the drive-in chain restaurant that appears frequently for metaphorical senses. They both do share a deep affinity for chili dogs though, which I gladly would take over this grandiose garbage.

It is Malick's cross to bear for this giant misfire, as all of his kooky decisions led to this monstrosity. For a so-called master craftsman and all powerful man of cinema, Malick still flubs even with the most basic film traits: A crucial scene involves the destruction of a rear view mirror. The very next shot and all following shots then show the mirror magically reconstructed, eliminating any urgency of the scene left that was not already gone by his stilted story. He captures no beauty in frame, only the lingering fragments of tedium. His editing structure consists entirely of a deadly ratio of five depressing scenes for every one small show of happiness. There's no window to breath, no sense of escape.

I was marveled by Malick's TREE OF LIFE and still defend it against any nay-sayers but this follow-up returns my opinion of the director back into the red and negative. Granted, an embellished boiler-plate of romantic hysterics is more interesting to behold than a brain-destroying shoot-em-up or another comedic travesty calling itself a parody. Yet there is nothing here to celebrate and nothing to warrant a slap on the hands. A future Criterion release can't even save this DOA.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Trailer Review - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Teaser Trailer
Watch It Here

Person of Interest: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, and Willow Shields all are returning to their roles. Plus, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Sutherland's new conniving ally.

Scene Pop: "Go ahead".

Briggs Breakdown: 1 televised execution, 1 flogging, 1 flag burning, 1 kiss, 1 punch, and massive rioting.

Effective?: Yes.

Check it Out?: I was very pleased with the first film so I'll be at a theater in the fall. It's a given that this will bring in a large haul of crowds and money. Not to mention, it will please those who seek Gail and Katniss together. Excuse me while I gag on a spoon.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Essential Film Hit List, Part 2: Make 'Em Laugh!

The second block of films to burn through are of one genre: comedy. It is the hardest form of entertainment to pull off well, since it all relies on the reactions of its audience. Thankfully, all of them were above par in laughs and content.

The Great Dictator certainly is one of Charlie Chaplin's many masterpieces, an often hilarious political satire where Chaplin plays both a dumb-founded Jewish WWI vet turned barber and a Hilter caricature dubbed "Adenoid Hynkel". There are many great set-pieces, including the famous dance with the globe, but my highlight was the day in the life trip of Hynkel, as he moves from room to room with jokes ranging from speed action to black humor. Yet, despite some well-made zingers at the travesties of human conflict and discrimination, the film is also a bit too disturbing to say the least. From the casual look of the "concentration camps", to the scene where Chaplin is to be hung, to the image of a Jew being shot and killed on his doorstep, the film gets disquieting quick. Then, there's the issue with the constant soapboxing, where the characters deliver long soliloquies literally to the audience about global brotherhood, particularly the strange ending speech that apparently took forever for Chaplin to write up. A great and historic effort but too creepy and preachy.

I didn't love "Crocodile" Dundee but I don't really have any problems with it. The film is just too clean and warmhearted to be offended at, even when the titled character hands out a unique handshake. A legendary Australian outdoorsman/charming titled hero takes a rich New York reporter around the Outback before heading to the Big City with her. A major showcase for writer and actor Paul Hogan, he certainly steals the show with his politeness, chivalrousness, and for both being a good ole boy and a socially-cultured Aussie. Even when the script resorts to featuring the overstuffed and ignorant boyfriend stereotype, the other characters actually act smart, all the way to the celebratory ending in a NY subway. The film deservedly earned being one of audience favorites of 1986 and a popular standout from the decade. Also, it was nice to see Carl Winslow himself as the personal chauffeur.

Risky Business wasn't very funny. It was more of a very moody, exotic take of the b-movie teen films that plagued the 1980's. Tom Cruise deservedly makes his star-making turn as a preppy who learns the zen of "What the Fuck?" and embarks on a soul-changing experience involving prostitution, college interviews, and Guido the Killer Pimp, all the while his parents are away. Though fun, I never really laughed at all, especially during the overblown and overwatched "Old Time Rock and Roll" dance scene or the weird mugging when Cruise says "Looks like University of Illnois!". Another factor is the often unfair meanness of the picture, such as the zero tolerance nurse and Cruise's mother at the very end. The film wasn't a total bummer; I was more entranced by Paul Brickman's direction, Bruce Surtees' cinematography, Rebecca De Mornay's innocent yet mischievous character, and the great soundtrack led by the Tangerine Dream score. However, I would probably spin the CD any day than watching this film again.

I spent many a day at the races but still haven't spent a night at the opera. Likewise, I finally got to watch A Night at the Opera after multiple screenings of the other notable films of the Marx Brothers. The movie is both splendid, comedic anarchy and the softening of the trope's image. Though the famous trio (Groucho, Chico, and Harpo) are given the most attention, they constantly plagued by the B-story involving two beautiful white singers willing to achieve opera stardom. I have nothing against Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle but the script appointed to them. The famous stateroom scene is of course the shining piece, next to the tumultuous and visually well-made finale on opening night. However, the moment that just sucks the energy straight from the film is the lengthly MGM number for "Cosi-Cosa", which just continues to falter despite the musical accomplishments of Harpo towards its end.

The Girl Can't Help It is considered to be the ultimate rock n' roll movie. It has a nice balance of comedic plot and musical fluff, such as the long sequence where star Jayne Mansfield rumps and booms her way through clubs while a collection of singers and bands play their hits. Of course, the film does have the sting of deliberately being way too similar to Billy Wilder's famous The Seven Year Itch (Tom Ewell in the lead male role, Mansfield as the unfairly considered back-up Monroe, coming only one year later), yet I far more enjoy the wonderment and humor by writer-director Frank Tashlin here. The subway grate scene may be iconic but I rather see Mansfield shake away down a city street while Looney Tune antics abound (quickly melting ice, bubbling milk bottles, glasses that crack upon her sight).

Ewell plays a bum talent scout who is getting paid by a former mob big-shot (Edmond O'Brien) to make Mansfield a music star. She's has everything genetically made to be the perfect dream woman yet can't sing beyond a siren that obliterates glass. Risque sex jokes and satiric elements follow. Though Mansfield is a delight, the acting show is really all about O'Brien. He gets the best zingers and moments, particularly his destructive takeover of America's jukeboxes and continuing declaration of "Oh, YEAH?!!" at anyone who says otherwise. The only thing able to top O'Brien is the magnificent soundtrack, led by the unbelievably catchy titled tune and two more ("Ready Teddy", "She's Got It") by Little Richard. Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps' "Be-Bop-A-Lula", Julie London's haunting "Cry Me a River", the jokey "Cinnamon Sinner" by Teddy Randazzo and the Three Chuckles, Eddie Cochran's abrasive "Twenty Flight Rock", Fats Domino's "Blue Monday", The Platters' slow jam "You'll Never, Never Know", and the destructive dance of "Rockin' Is Our Business" by The Treniers back him up.

One of the goals of the Hit List was to finally experience past trends and popular stars, such as the extremely polarizing Jerry Lewis. I wanted to watch a film featuring the Clown Prince and Messiah of France, something that wasn't a picture with Dean Martin, which eliminates the gateway feature Artists and Models, or the acclaimed The Nutty Professor; Instead, I wanted something a bit off the beaten path. Surprisingly, my choice of The Bellboy nailed it, becoming the perfect vehicle to experience the power of Lewis. The short movie, clocking in at 72 minutes, is nothing more than a series of brief gags and scenes set around a popular Florida hotel and its bumbling bellhop. The film even starts with a fake producer informing the audience to just kick back and forgo any continuity. Lewis is practically wordless as the hop, thus removing the voice he is infamously mocked for and allowing him to utilize great body language. There are many great gags such as him dealing with ringing phones, two instances with an elevator, or, in a triumph of anti-humor, filling a large room with chairs. You can see that this was a work of love, as friends of Lewis pop up in cameos from the good (Milton Berle) to the bad (The Novelites). Also, the film is part of film history, as Lewis created the video assist to help him both direct and act.

This film certainly had the last laugh, as it is one of the screw-ups of my list, being a 1969 film instead of '68. That's the last time I use Netflix as a source of information. Anyway, Disney's The Love Bug was a cute little joy. Dean Jones plays a washed-up racer whose fortunes turn for the better when put behind the wheel of a sentient Volkswagen Bettle dubbed Herbie. The movie moves along at a nice pace and features some impressive car stunts and a hilarious hammy turn by the villain played by David Tomlinson. Surprisingly, the film is pretty adult at times, such as an entire sequence revolving around Irish coffee and two characters getting heavily drunk. Also, the makers clearly inputted sexual themes and messages; Jones would rather drive a long shafted yellow car instead of his chubby one and even tells his love interest, "Without a real car, I'm only half a man." A worthwhile time.

Both seriously and ironically, I actually enjoyed Showgirls. It's a giant misfire with some of the most laughable scenes and acting ever devised and yet is still a strong satiric look at show business and the sin city of America. I believer the latter has to do more with director Paul Verhoeven, one of my favorites, than with the joke of a script from Joe Eszterhas. The film prankster Verhoeven wanted to bring you on a dizzying tour around Las Vegas, where its inhabitants chow through fast food everyday, everything needs to be showy and erotic for the fleeting and wandering eyes, and the backstages of entertainment are a tumultuous cesspool of bitchery and egotism. Sure enough, everything pined to the infamous character of Nomi Malone (get it?) lives up to the hype: Elizabeth Berkeley is stilted and awful, the character is too scatterbrained to figure out if she's supposed to be a woman seeking redemption or a conniving backstabber, and the heavily remembered pool sex scene is amazing to take in. I do feel bad that Berkeley is still remembered just for this, despite doing better with smaller indie films (Roger Dodger) and on Broadway later. Beyond the main character, the script is pitiful: it rips off All About Eve and presents itself way too seriously, the dialogue is far beyond pulpy, the mystery of Nomi's real name is laughable and not as important as it thinks it is, and the film just ends abruptly after one comeuppance and some sequel bait. That's why I think Verhoeven and the other actors (Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan, Alan Rachins) deliberately wanted to amp up the sleaziness, the institutionalized depravity, and the alien world that is Las Vegas. Worst movie ever or of the 1990's? Certainly not in the slightest.

Like many 90's kids, I heard of Rushmore more from the airwaves of MTV, hyping the film and their use of its cast for MTV Movie Awards television spots. Finally seeing it, I can now put it behind The Royal Tenebaums as my second favorite feature from modern auteur Wes Anderson. Jason Schwartzman made his debut as Max Fischer, a scholarship-funded outcast who spends his time at the Rushmore Academy more on extracurricular activities than his failing grades. Judging by the school environment and the intelligence of his fellow classmates, the dilemma lies more with his lack of funds and social upbringing than it does with his drive to make a theatrical adaption of Serpico. However, his emotionally destructive inner being begins to show once he falls for a first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams) and his rich mentor/friend (Bill Murray) schemes to come between them. Once again, I behold an Anderson script that hits the same beats (chaotic main, social annihilation in the middle, redemptive ending arc) and once again, Anderson makes it work with his words and world. Scenes are striking realized through camerawork and the plentiful cuts of its soundtrack, culminating with the big cast finale that nicely ties the story together. Despite a small presence, Murray has the strongest showing in terms of acting, allowing the viewer to understand what is going through his mind and life without saying a word. Also, the word "handjob" has never been more funny and meaningful.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Poster Review - 42

I'm late to the party but I still wanted to bring my desserts, dammit!

Though I placed it in my top picks of the early 2013 season, sharing company with a film that was rescheduled and another that was universally loathed, 42 is not expected to be boffo or wholly unique. Judging from the early critical notices, the latter proves to be true. I am interested by breakout lead Chadwick Boseman and the supporting turns by an eager Harrison Ford and Christopher Meloni and expect to see it later in the year. However, I know that the only true legacy for this film is as a video rental, re-runs on TNT, bait for the Image Awards, and the lucky placeholder for teachers when talking about the civil rights movement and/or Black History Month.

The film's mainstream poster, spread like butter in all of America's theaters, is a baffling misfire. Though striking, the sell is more of a fantasy film than a Hollywood baseball flick; it seems that Jackie Robinson is ready to fight off evil Ben Kingsley and save the sands of time. It would have been better, not to mention make perfect sense, for the action to be horizontal than vertical, similar to last year's praised (?) Skyfall poster.

Even the poster I prefer more could have been executed better. Instead of the bottom right title reveal, the minimalist message should have just been the back of Boseman's jersey. After all, why spend more time on the marketing when your film's title is both a bland pick and the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Roger Ebert - RIP

Roger Ebert, the man who led film criticism into the mainstream and public consciousness, had died. He was 70 years old.

Growing up into the film lover and movie reviewer that I am today, it wouldn't have been possible in any stage without Ebert. He was always on the grandest stage to proclaim the joys of cinema and to shine the spotlight on features that may have gone unnoticed without the Chicago native's voice and his ever present thumb. He made reviews digestible for easy consumption yet still could wax philosophically and elegantly. Like any cinephile with an opinion, I didn't always agree with the man on certain films or some of the text written up for them. Despite disagreeing with him often, he never lost my respect, not even with his controversial view in the video games as art debate.

"At the Movies" and its long evolving path before being cancelled in 2011 has always been there through my many stages of life. Along with his combative yet always friendly comrade Gene Siskel, as well as several guests and Richard Roeper, he helped make film discussion as vibrant and entertaining as it truly is. Even after Siskel tragically passed away and he himself began to suffer from ailments, including the lose of his jaw and vocals, the man never gave up and embraced the virtues of the internet, which he saw as the next venue for film criticism and debate.

Before today's shocking news, he issued a statement just yesterday that he would take a "leave of presence", to diminish some of his duties but still have the time to spend on the films he truly loved.

As of this moment, the news and sorrow has spread and his personal website is still down. He leaves behind his loving wife and supporter Chaz Ebert, a multitude of projects including his annual film festival, and the global audience that loved him and helped him through the pains of his life, just by spending a little time to talk about the latest issues and movies.

He will sorely be missed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Breakers - Review

Harmony Korine, enfant terrible for life, has finally crafted his most accessible film without diluting his venomous sting. SPRING BREAKERS deliberately exploits the audience's knowledge of its female stars and their celebrity fame before embarking on a vicious yet extremely effective journey of four red riding hoods entering into a world of wolves. Unless, of course, they themselves are wolves in waiting, ready for their first taste of blood amid all of the Floridan flavors and decadences.

Four girls seek to run wild and free during their Spring Break week from their suffocating community college, only to be hampered by their lack of funds. Though Faith (Selena Gomez) is eager to leave both her "home" and the influence of her pastor group, she isn't as ardent as the other three: stoner Cotty (Rachel Korine) and the dangerous duo of Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Brit (Ashley Benson). They steal a professor's car, drive-by rob a restaurant, then torch their ride before taking the party bus to Florida with Faith. It's all mindless bliss until they are arrested and locked up for a spell, only to be bailed out by a z-list rapper/dumb drug kingpin dubbed Alien (James Franco), who sees the potential in them for darker and sensual means.

A NC-17 cut filled with more boobs and booze wouldn't be necessary to understand Korine's ultimate point, that the pagan ritual of Spring Break isn't a celebration of genitalia-flying, alcohol-fueled indulgence scoped through MTV and cellphone aesthetics. That is just the popularized and media-friendly first stage; Spring Break is instead a giant litmus test of a person's moral depravity and judgment, a hellish limbo that unleashes the repressed primeval nature of a human being through licentiously challenging trials. Once he or she eventually taps out from all of the excesses, they are then able to return to the world of the living to be a good boy or girl. If they don't, they will continue on declaring the ringing words of 'Spring Break Forever!", a cry that gets toxic and disturbing as the film continues.

The film's script is thankfully more original than you would've expect from a crime film involving bikini-clad girls. You head into it thinking you know all of the plot points and major moments only to be sneak attacked by Korine. The fact that Gomez leaves early in the picture is the first alarm that you'll be heading into more dangerous and destructive territory. The story is coupled with a haunting, day-glo production design and beautiful artistry from the camera and the editing bay. Benoit Debie's cinematography captures the radiance of adult wickedness and festive debauchery. His shining moment comes during the first robbery scene, a one-shot take where Cotty drives around a late-night diner, nodding her head to Nicki Minaj, while turmoil plays out in the background. Douglas Crise's editing is deliriously ecstatic; a bitter blend of music video cuts, ominous sound cues, flash forwards, and slow motion pageantry. Nearly every scene is punctuated with gun-loads and clicks, a foreboding sign of things to come or possibly a nod to the devilish thoughts residing in the pretty little heads of our leads. Crise gets to stand out with a grand musical tribute to Britney Spears, in a movie devoted to the beleaguered queen of pop, where her song "Everytime" is given the dulcet tones of a piano-playing James Franco, an interpretive dance by the gun-holding, pink ski masked girls, and cuts to the hideous robberies they have been committing on the side.

The soundtrack is impeccable, comprised mainly of the destructive tones of dubstep and gangster rap before ending on a nice tight bow for the film and its message with Ellie Goulding's "Lights". The score by popular artist Skrillex and DRIVE composer Cliff Martinez is evocative when it isn't goosebumpy and sinister. The only composition able to top their work is the dark ditty delivered by James Franco after a key moment. Coming off a horrible performance in the boffo OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, Franco has turned it all around with his humorous, charismatic, and disquieting take on Alien. He makes the character very sincere and honest; a thrill-seeking man-child whose obliviousness is genuine and sees the girls as his like-minded kin. His "Look at my shit!" monologue is sure to conquer YouTube and 101 acting classes. The female leads are all good in their roles, conveying their mental turmoil and lust of immoral life adequately. The film also makes great use of rapper Gucci Mane, and its infamous ice cream tattoo, as the heavy.

SPRING BREAKERS is sure to piss off many with its rampant party visuals and the so-called messages it may or may not be advocating. However, its "art as trash" mystique and breathtaking design overcome these fears and flat-out lies. It does get to be a bad trip and nauseating at times, not to mention the confusing first note of the film, but it wants to underline and expand the darkness hidden behind all of the young flesh, mind-altering elixirs, and MTV sponsorships. You need to take this film in one large dose, regardless of its taste, to see the true horrors facing many college-aged individuals during one important week. What happens in Spring Break may stay in Spring Break but your soul will be tested or completely removed.