Gummo Screen 5 articles

Gummo

1997

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  • Written and directed by Harmony Korine, who wrote Kids, this poetically disjointed narrative (1997) also follows young people engaged in nihilistic activities and has an ambiguous relationship to both documentary and fiction filmmaking—but none of the earlier movie's prurience or condescension.

  • A glue-sniffer's reverie and an aestheticized episode of Beavis & Butthead, explicitly and bracingly set up as an act of cinematic vandalism.

  • It is obvious that Korine meticulously controlled every aspect of the film to his satisfaction. This included a dazzling manipulation of aesthetic features and postmodern strategies—including pastiche, the fragmentation of narrative structure and the breakdown of the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. By rejecting the use of a coherent plot, Korine allowed no rhythm or pace to eventuate, continually jolting the audience and forcing them to question the film that they are viewing.

  • Gummo is a painstakingly (creatively!) repellant heroin chic cine-scrap book which demands its brave viewers question if what they are watching contains any artistic or intellectual nourishment whatsoever. Or whether it’s all just a bunch of grotesque E numbers set to black metal ditties. This strategy in itself is what great art should do – dismantle its true identity, or at least coquettishly obscure it from outsiders.

  • The film is alternately crass and tender, exploitive and loving; it revels in the sorts of contradictions that only cinema can engender. Certain images have stayed in my memory for decades: the stone-faced little boy eating spaghetti in a bathtub filled with green water; the black midget wearing a Hatikva t-shirt cheering on an impromptu fight club; a shirtless boy with cloth bunny ears loitering on an expressway overpass.

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