Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spring Breakers: Blu-Ray Review

Special features are a lost commodity. Unless I fork out $40+ for a Criterion DVD (or half that, in the current Barnes and Noble sale), I’m not getting much more out of a DVD than the movie itself. Yet special features are an added bonus and as a young filmmaker, something I always watch closely. Problem is, with studios chiefly concerned about how quickly they can release a film on DVD, it seems as though little attention is given toward special features.

So, when I picked up the Spring Breakers Blu-Ray on Tuesday, I was elated to find that it was packed with extras. Instead of reviewing Harmony Korine’s masterful film again (you can read my initial review here), this post is dedicated to the special features on the DVD/Blu-Ray. (Note: the special features on the DVD and Blu-Ray versions of Spring Breakers are identical.)

Commentary by Writer/Director Harmony Korine
This Spring Breakers Blu-Ray marks a number of firsts for Harmony Korine. It’s the first time any of his films have been released on Blu-Ray, first of his home releases to contain special features, and thereby, his first recorded audio commentary. And his track for Spring Breakers is pretty much exactly what you’d think Harmony Korine’s track for Spring Breakers would sound like. While he unfortunately focuses a little too much on the scene we’re seeing at any given time, the track does open itself up to a plethora of great trivia. Including:

Val Kilmer was supposed to play Selena Gomez’s fire and brimstone youth pastor, but he got sick. So Korine's friend (and pro wrestler), Jeff Jarrett stepped it.

A chief inspiration for Spring Breakers was Korine’s personal collection of fraternity imagery and coed pornography he had gathered over the years.

The looping dialogue in the film is meant to evoke electronica and sample-based music.

James Franco’s character, Alien, was inspired by the “gold teeth, white rapper, gangsters,” Korine used to ride the school bus with, and beach bums.

Also, once Alien arrives on screen, Korine clearly becomes more interested in talking. His voice is excited and heightened. You can tell he loves this character, and loves what Franco did with it.

Highlight: “This is their dream. What could be better? Scooters at midnight. Florida motels. White rappers. Bad beer. Donuts. Milkshakes. Weed. Seeing their reflection. Perfect.”

Three Part Making-Of Featurette (22:01)
“It’s meant to be something unreal. I never really cared about this idea of ‘truth in film’ or ‘vérité is truth’ or some type of ‘ultimate truth.’ That’s boring. I want something more enlightening, more like poetry.”

This is a notion Korine brings up several times in this exquisite Making-Of. How he never intended for Spring Breakers to feel 100 percent real. How through music, cinematography, editing and performance, he wanted the film to be an experience. A trip, if you will.

In addition to Korine’s intentions behind the film, this featurette covers the lengthy pre production process, casting, photography and much more. It’s full of marvelous bits of knowledge for any remote fan of the film.

Highlight: Franco describes how Korine’s pitch for the film sold him. “He said he wanted to make a Britney Spears music video mixed with a Gaspar Noé film.”

Deleted Scene (:58)
Amusing little scene. I won’t give away what it is, but I’m glad it was cut.

Outtakes (7:44)
The outtakes on this Blu-Ray are the real highlight of the disc. When I hear “outtakes,” I imagine a gag reel of the actors flubbing up there lines. Not here. Instead, these outtakes are mostly a collection of extended scenes and/or unused material from the film. Most of it is confined to Franco’s career-defining “Look at all my shit!” tirade, but all of it is gold.

Highlight: Easy, Korine interrupts Franco’s “Look at all my shit!” speech and gives him a line to say. Watch Franco here. Watch him slightly pop out of character and really pay attention to what his director is saying. He cuts his director off, saying he’s got it, then delivers a great bit about why Alien does what he does. Twice. In one take. And it’s in the final movie. That is fucking acting.

Harmony’s Ear Candy (7:22)
Excellent making-of documentary about the musical inspiration for the film. Music supervisor Randall Poster and the film’s composer, Cliff Martinez, talk about motifs and intentions behind their tunes. A great doc.

Highlight: Martinez made his own version of Skrillex’s “Scary Monster and Nice Sprites” (which opens the film), to be played during the final shootout. I never knew that’s what that track was.

Additional Material: A trio of Vice featurettes that were already online for free, trailers, and TV spots.

Final Thoughts: Honestly, I would’ve been fine with just having Korine’s gorgeous film to look at (and believe me, this Blu-Ray looks gorgeous), but these special features really do make the experience that much better. For fans of Spring Breakers, this DVD/Blu-Ray is an absolute must. 

24 comments:

  1. That's the only reason why I prefer to buy DVDs. The special features. I don't want to be ripped off because I need to know what I'm going to spend my money and see if the DVD is worth the money I paid for.

    This weekend, I'm going Criterion-shopping at Barnes & Nobles and I've already made my list. Some of which, will be blind buys as it relates to some of the Auteurs pieces I'm doing as well as some Blind Spots and classics that I need.

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    1. Special features are the best. Just the best. Also, Criterion blind buys are so amazing. It's really the only blind buy I'll do anymore. So much great stuff there. Enjoy!

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    2. I should also note that I'm going to create another Criterion Wishlist sometime next week about what films I want on the Criterion Collection. I've gotten about 20 films so far. I think I can put five more.

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    3. Nice. Can't wait to see that list. Hope you publish it.

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  2. Awesome post Alex. Thank you for sharing this. Once I get cash I will pick this up. This is a movie I did not care for with the first viewing but I cant stop thinking about it.

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    1. Thanks Jason! I think that's really cool of you to give this flick another chance. For better or worse, it certainly doesn't leave your mind. Hope you dig the extras!

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  3. Nice post, Alex, because I too was glued to the DVD extras after watching the movie. With such a bizarre film like Korine's, you WANT those kind of extras for a little more explanation of what the hell was going on and what the thought-process behind the film was. Super trippy. I particularly loved the Selena Gomez interview with how uncomfortable she was filming (she WAS her character), and you totally know Korine fed off of that insecurity. Her complain-fest about her younger fans was a bit obnoxious and redundant.

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    1. Thanks! I really dug that Gomez bit as well. You're so right, she really was playing her actual character, which is a stroke of genius on Korine's part. Yeah, I certainly won't be YouTubing any more Selena Gomez interviews anytime soon, but her interview was good on this disc.

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  4. Great post Alex. I missed this at the cinema so I'll almost certainly be picking up the Blu-ray. Looks like it's got some decent extras with it. I'm so disappointed when they come with hardly any extras attached.

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    1. Thanks man. I'm always bummed when a movie I love has no extras. Upstream Color's literal lack of special features was especially heartbreaking, but that's the way it goes. Hope you dig this flick!

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    2. Upstream Color not having any special features is super disappointing; I would so love to hear a director's commentary of that film!

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  5. I've gotta buy this now. Thanks for the review! Have you ever considered making a list of your top 10 favorite dvd commentaries?
    -Dan

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    1. My pleasure. I actually am going to do that post soon. I haven't before because I was afraid all 10 would go to Steven Soderbergh. He's by far the best DVD commentary speaker I've ever heard.

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  6. LOVE this post man. I can't wait to check out those great special features!

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    1. Thanks Josh! The features really are a must for fans of the flick.

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  7. "Val Kilmer was supposed to play Selena Gomez’s fire and brimstone youth pastor, but he got sick."

    --Silently brooding over the scene that could have been and never was.--

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    1. I mean, I don't wish anyone ill will, but I hope Kilmer was dead-as-a-dog sick. He would've been amazing in that role.

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  8. This sounds like a great set of extras and I'd be well up for tucking into them sometime!

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    1. Definitely man. Some solid stuff here. Enjoy!

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  9. Hey Alex, what's up brother? This is Chase, been viewing your blog for a while and I finally decided to comment. Put up or shut up, right?

    Just wanted to stop in and say hey and I think we'll have some good conversations and banter about some films. I'm a big cinephile, love films like you, so might as well check out the site.

    I really enjoy the reviews by the way man - very impressive, agree with you most of the time I believe.

    Nice one here for Breakers as well, the film surprised me quite a bit. I gave it an 8 / 10. Franco killed it.

    Look forward to chatting it up in future.

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    1. Hey Chase, good to hear from you man. Really cool of you to check out my site, and thanks so much for commenting. Made my day.

      I remember talking a bit with you back in the day about movies, but seriously, feel free to stop by anytime and talk flicks. I'm always here!

      Glad you dug Spring Breakers. Franco was a fuckin' beast in that flick.

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  10. Nicely done, Alex. I love that you did a Blu-ray review here -- don't see too many of those. I'm most curious about that Outtakes bit. Always nice to see behind-the-scenes stuff like that.

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    1. Thanks man! I've actually never reviewed a DVD/Blu-Ray, but I couldn't resist here. The Outtakes are really good. Short but sweet.

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