HARM: A Harmony Korine Retrospective



7:00pm - Reception
8:00pm - Gummo with introduction

“Harmony Korine has made a career out of writing and directing films that confound and offend — surreal and often violent excursions through the forever-teenage American id that explode the holy values so many (supposedly) hold so dear.”

“One of the 50 best filmmakers under 50 ... Harmony Korine has made at least three indisputable masterpieces of modern American cinema.”

“Nobody else is as young, as bright, as original, as inspired ... Korine belongs on the list with Godard, Cassavetes, Herzog, Warhol, Tarkovsky, Brakhage, and others who smash conventional movies and reassemble the pieces.”

The films of Harmony Korine (b. 1973), American cinema’s ageless enfant terrible, are a polarizing lot. Gleefully provocative, formally challenging, morally oblique, and chock-full of transgressions most filmmakers wouldn’t dare dream of putting onscreen — let alone dream up in the first place — Korine’s one-of-a-kind oeuvre has drawn outrage and adulation in almost equal measure. (Ringing endorsements from arch-auteurs Bernardo Bertolucci, Jean-Luc Godard, and Werner Herzog help tip the scale in Harm’s favour.)

A punch-drunk chronicler of America’s outcast caste — a rogues’ gallery of misfits, delinquents, weirdos, and trash humpers — Korine has stayed alarming true to his truly alternative vision ever since his teenage-riot script for Larry Clark’s KIDS (1995), written when he was just 19, catapulted him into the booming '90s indie-sphere. His directorial debut Gummo (1997), an elliptical, absurdist masterpiece of Southern anomie, was largely reviled by critics but hailed by fellow cinéastes as a revolution in film grammar. (Errol Morris vowed to vote for it as Best Picture on his Oscar ballot.) Two decades and four feral features later, Korine has done little to buck the love/loathe reputation he’s earned and (let’s be honest) invited — this despite the surprise box-office appetite that made his still-latest film, the Day-Glo teensploitation flick Spring Breakers (2012), his most over-ground success by some margin.

With Korine’s long-awaited The Beach Bum finally set for release in 2019, and his recent exhibition of paintings at Gagosian Gallery in New York bringing renewed attention to his wider aesthetic project — which also includes videos, books, fanzines, and music collaborations with Björk, Will Oldham, and Lana Del Rey, respectively — The Cinematheque is proud to present a complete retrospective of Harmony Korine’s corrosive, cult-adored cinema, the first of its kind in Canada. Included are all five of the bad-boy wunderkind’s feature films, a quintet of brazenly deviant works that obfuscate the term “commercial cinema.” His three most exemplary affronts — Gummo, julien donkey-boy (1999), and (gulp) Trash Humpers (2009) — screen from rarely exhibited 35mm prints.

Shaun Inouye, Programming Associate


Click for film notes + showtimes

Recent Showings

35mm PRINT! Few American film debuts have incited such polarity (and ferocity) of opinion as Harmony Korine’s incendiary first feature.
35mm PRINT! Rendered in a vulgar aesthetic befitting its at-times ugly ideas, Korine’s sophomore film is a feverish portrait of mental illness.
35mm PRINT! An almost indescribably perverse, garbage-heap artifact made in the vein of crude, no-fi home video. Proceed with extreme caution!
A hyper-stylized, subversive take on YOLO hedonism, pop-culture consumerism, and Girls Gone Wild sexploitation.
After an eight-year absence from feature filmmaking, Korine returned with this off-kilter exploration of celebrity culture.