For the most transgressive double-feature of the year, I caught the new Harmony Korine and Gaspar Noe films back-to-back last year (now both are on DVD). I didn’t expect each film’s hopeful enthusiasm for innocent youth.
Trash Humpers can be billed as Korine’s return to his early territory of Gummo… Well, Harmony has always pushed the limits, breaking down the conventions of film plots and styles, reaching the high expectations of euro art yet hitting home for all of us who grew up in the ‘80s in mid-America suburbia with Swamp Thing as our biggest life coach. Humpers reaches the insane levels of Gummo but is more disjunctive with less plot and more pure moments, which turned some viewers off, at least the ones who split early. But I loved it, a film purely in the avant gutter. Every frame was put together beautifully, a photography book in motion, with a perfect looking VHS (on EP mode) format. There is a great traveling gallery show possible alongside the movie. The film documents the minutes and hours of four old people as they hump trash and mess things up around town freaking out onlookers, with a deeper life metaphor in the last few scenes that’s great. Dealing with the heaviness of adult responsibility and desperate for the teenaged carelessness in old age, it becomes life affirming.
Whenever you can, follow Humpers up with Enter the Void, Noe’s explosion of a film about the existential circle of life. Following a brother and sister through drugged happiness, childhood tragedy, and some baaaad choices, Noe reaches Spielberg levels of CGI to portray the film from inside the main character’s head, complete with eye blinks, before moving the audience on to smooth, endless floating over the characters and luscious Tokyo. It’s excessive but not overdone, with incredible colors and movement. You actually sit there and say, “How the hell was this filmed?” It’s probably too straight-forward and narrative for a pure avant-garde crowd but drug lovers and reincarnationists will be ecstatic throughout; strong performances push the limits, and Noe’s frenetic film work bringing realism to the characters. Noe’s fascination with the incredible string of life culminates in a porn version of the last twenty minutes of 2001, in a way. Yes, lots of the crowd guessed where the plot was going. But if people want to see something truly visceral, tackling the complexities of life and youth, this pops the ceilin (trashhumpers.com, ifcfilms.com/films/enter-the-void)