Geeks, midgets, transvestites — HARMONY KORINE, writer of kids, has pressed all the controversy buttons again with his
directing debut, Gummo. Words: Beth Williams
ALTHOUGH HE WROTE the screenplay for Larry (‘lark's controversial movie kfl/S at the age of eighteen. Harmony Korine felt that he had a very different and individual style of his own to indulge in. The result is (iummu. his own feature debut.
‘kit/s' was Larry (‘lark‘s movie. basically.‘ he explains. ‘livery cadence and every word was mine. but it wasn‘t a story I wanted to tell. I made kids because I was poor. and it got me in. but I was interested in the idea of making films with a subliminal narrative. All I care about is setting up chaos. I want things to happen everywhere. I love people. scenes and characters. and I want to have cameras so I can just shoot. shoot. shoot and make sense of it afterwards. I give a homeless. one-legged tap dancer a Polaroid and tell him to take pictures of his toilet. and I'll make sense of it. make it
into a film. That. for me. is the future of
(‘hallenging the traditions of not only cinema but classical storytelling. Korine‘s (iumnm is an absurd collage of people and images. It could be considered juvenile and offensive. minorities from albinos to midgets to the mentally retarded - and contains images ofcat mutilation but Korine believes that he has created a new art form. which he calls ‘mistake-ist‘.
‘You can forget about the I’m'lir's'. (ireek
12 THE “ST 14 28 May 1998
since it features all manner of
tragedy. beginning. middle. end.” he reckons. ‘I want to show people that you can make films differently. Art is about entertaining. about somehow being moved. but I want to put it in a different kind of dramatic context.’
l)escribing his art in terms of the typical youth creation the music compilation tape this 23—year-old filmmaker illustrates how (iummu works. ‘You can make a mix tape and give it to your friend. and somehow the music is your own. it’s a mistake-ist art form. (I'M/mm) is mistake-ist: thingsjust fall from the sky like a science project. explosions and things. It‘s like the idea of looking at a photo book or something. and there‘s a picture of your grandmother standing in front of a pyramid and your grandfather sitting on the toilet. and beneath there‘s a picture of you on a kibbut/ picking dates with Michael Jackson. but somehow a narrative comes through. just through sheer association.”
(‘apable of talking his way otit of a hole. this tiny. skinny young director has an admirable ability to justify his every move. aided by his profound knowledge of film history and theory. 011 the film‘s lack of narrative. he declares that ‘cinema is manipulation. It has nothing to do with
Toilet humour: Jacob Sewell in Gummo
making sense. Where people lose the film is when they start trying to cerebrally dissect and analyse it.~ Regarding (iummu's danger of offending. Korine states that 'the things that are shocking aren‘t really shocking. The reason why people get upset is because
'I give a homeless, one-legged t4) dancer a Polaroid and tell him to take pictures of his toilet. and I'll make sense of it. That. for me. is the future of cinema.‘ «amen, Karine
they've seen it. but never seen it big before.‘
l)escribing himself as a ‘trickster' as he persuasively diffuses every single provocative question with his gift of the gab. it is difficult to know whether Korine takes himself and his film totally sei'iotisly. or whether he is simply enjoying a laugh at the film-lover‘s expense.
‘l‘m an entertainer. a showman.‘ is his final word. ‘l‘m not a filmmaker. I'm like Al Jolson. I paint myself black. play the banjo and I pull the wool over people's eyes..
Gummo opens at Edinburgh Filmhouse on Friday 15 May. See review.