harmony korine (a sort of retrospective) – Ken Park & Mister Lonely

Please join us for harmony korine (a sort of retrospective), curated and hosted by Wesley Stokes, with support from Press Street and Charitable Film Network.  For more information contact youngisdumb@gmail.com.

Harmony Korine (b. 1973) is an American filmmaker and writer whose work is some of the most imaginative and appalling in the canon of cinema today.Raised in Nashville, Tennessee and later in New York City, Korine has made and written films that seek to show a true beauty in characters that are marginalized in society. Blurring the lines between the scripted and reality, his movies are filled with white trash, drugged up teens, celebrity impersonators, the elderly, and the mentally ill all of whom often actually play themselves making viewers both cringe in horror and feel a sweet sadness in their honesty. Familiar themes of tap dancing and fantastical urban legends riddle the storyline of his films and leave the viewer confused but satisfied by what they’ve just experienced.

Thursday, March 28th
6:00 pm –  Ken Park (2002 / Directed by Larry Clark and Ed Lachman, and written by Harmony Korine)
Set in Visalia, California, Ken Park is another collaboration between Harmony Korine and Larry Clark that depicts the dysfunctional lives of several teenagers. Beginning with a teen named Ken Park filming his own suicide, the story revolves around the aftermath as it effects others that he knew.  Due to the graphic nature of the film and failure to get music copyright, Ken Park was never properly shown in the U.S. 

8:00 pm – Mister Lonely (2007 / Directed by Harmony Korine)
Starring Diego Luna (Milk, Y Tu Mamá También, Before Night Falls) as a Michael Jackson impersonator in Paris, the film is primarily set on an island of celebrity impersonators where all of the residents have retreated from the cruelty of outside society to create their own world where they can put on shows every night.

Inspired from Korine’s own brief experience living on a commune with his parents as a child, Mister Lonely is the first of his feature films to have a larger budget ($8.2 million) and slick production. The film sought to show the obsessive nature of the impersonator personality in an endearing light. During filming the cast lived together in a Scottish castle and stayed in impersonator mode for the entirety of the shooting even while off screen. Actor Denis Lavant (who recently starred in the celebrated French film, Holy Motors directed by Leos Carax) was said to have bathed wearing his shoes during filming because legend has it that Charlie Chaplain who Savant plays as an impregnator, did the same in real life.
Friday, March 29th
6:00 pm – Gummo
(1997 / Directed by Harmony Korine)
For his first feature length film, Korine follows a series of characters through the town of Xenia, Ohio (all principal shooting was actually done in Nashville), a town devastated by a tornado in the 70’s. While there are a few main characters that keep a narrative structure or sorts, most of the film is a series of sketches and real people that Korine documented during the course of the filming. The intention was to capture characters that he saw in Nashville on a regular basis that he had never seen represented on screen.

Most of the story follows two adolescents, Tummler and Solomon, as they ride around on bicycles looking for stray cats that they can kill and sell to a Chinese restaurant to buy money for glue sniffing. The iconic “Bunny Boy” is a mute character that appears in the film at various points as an almost surreal ambassador for the storyline which is otherwise mostly collaged together as opposed to the traditional three act format for a film.

(Followed by a Q + A with actor Jacob Sewell who played “The Bunny Boy” in the film).