18 February 2013 | soncoman
Harmony Korine is a Genius
Not really, but someone took offense to how I titled this review and had it deleted. Seriously. Someone was offended but what I wrote and not with Korine's contribution to this film? Amazing. So, with the above edit, here's the original review:
"It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." This quotation from Shakespeare's MacBeth (about life) could also serve as a capsule review of Harmony Korine's contribution to the new anthology film "The Fourth Dimension," which had its premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Executive Producer Eddy Moretti, wrote a "creative brief" with over 50 specific instructions to be followed in the production of an original film. Actual instructions included "There needs to be someone wearing tap shoes," "Stray dogs are good. They can be really meaningful" and "The director must direct one scene from the film with a blindfold on over his or her eyes." He found three directors willing to work within these and the other restraints - the USA's Harmony Korine, Russia's Alexey Fedorchenko, and Poland's Jan Kwiecinski. Each produced a 30 minute film and the results have been combined to create "The Fourth Dimension." It is 2/3 of a good film.
Korine's film, "The Lotus Community Workshop," stars Val Kilmer as a motivational speaker named (coincidentally) Val Kilmer. The film is set in a typical American bowling alley where a cross-section of citizens gathers to be inspired by Mr. Kilmer's exhortations - about nothing. Kilmer delivers a series of nonsequitors that occasionally individually amuse, but on the whole deliver zilch. While this may be Korine's point - that people in the motivational speaking business say anything they can and mean nothing they say - it is a point belabored through the entire short film that made it feel much longer than it actually was. It is also a point that has been made by plenty of filmmakers before him. Kilmer's participation in this project isn't really surprising when one looks at this actor's eclectic career path, but one has to wonder if without his involvement whether anyone would be paying any attention to this film at all.
Fedorchenko's film, "Chrono Eye," is a very interesting take on time travel. Igor Sergeev portrays Grigory Mikhailovich, the inventor of a device that allows brief glimpses into the past (and, eventually, the future) but from the perspective of an individual who seems uninterested in the event Mikhailovich's seeks to view. While continuing to work on his invention, he is being hounded by a tax collector seeking to collect on the money he had been awarded for his invention, and by the incessant dancing of an upstairs neighbor. While Mikhailovich fiddles with the past and future, the possibilities of the present are slipping right by him.
While no doubt hampered by a low budget, this film succeeds in getting us to accept its premise (one antenna underground, one antenna in the air, and voila! Time travel
) and feel the frustrations of the main character.
How did Fedorchenko manage to take a story like this and get it to meet so many requirements of the brief? Easy. He just took a script he already had and stuck in the things the brief requested. An economical approach, but probably one of the main reasons this film succeeds.
The last of the trilogy of films, Kweiecinski's "Fawns," follows a small group of Eastern European 'hipsters' as they traipse through an eerily abandoned village. We eventually learn that they are in the path of an approaching natural disaster and seem not to care for their fates. One person then exits, another one enters and attitudes take a drastic change.
This film does a great job of setting a mood of impending doom, and has a lot to say about how, when push comes to shove, humanity can touch even the most jaded soul.
All three directors appeared at a Q&A following the film, and it was interesting to see how the films tended to match the directors' personalities. Kwiecinski was the most verbose and seemed to have a generally upbeat view of things. Federchenko was very precise and methodical in his answers (delivered via translator) and gave the lengthiest responses to the audience's questions. Korine acted like an idiot and gave responses that really didn't answer any questions.
The premiere showing was the first time that each director had a chance to view the others' films. I asked them for a response to each others films within the context of being screened with their works. Kweicinski said he probably needed to think about Korine's film before commenting (Was he just being polite? I choose to think so
) Fedorchenko gave a lengthy response about artists working within the restrictions of the brief. Korine's response? Quote – "Uhh. Yeah. Yeah. Good sh** all around." Brilliant analysis, Harmony...