Harmony Korine

Harmony Korine

Infobox Actor
name = Harmony Korine

birthdate = birth date and age|1973|01|4
location = Bolinas, California, U.S.
birthname = Harmony Korine

Harmony Korine (born January 4 1973)imdb name|0005101] is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and author.

He is best known for the screenplay "Kids" and for directing the movies "Gummo" and "Julien Donkey-Boy". He has been a figure in independent film, music and art throughout the past decade.

Early life

Korine was born to a Jewish family in Bolinas, California and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of documentary filmmaker Sol Korine. He spent his early years in Nashville, before moving to New York City to live with his grandmother. A solitary teenager, Korine frequented revival theaters, watching classic films by John Cassavetes, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Alan Clarke. He studied Dramatic Writing at The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University for one semester before dropping out to pursue a career as a professional tapdancer. Korine was skating with friends in Washington Square Park when he caught the eye of photographer Larry Clark. Korine showed Clark a screenplay he had written about a teenager whose father takes him to a prostitute. Impressed, the photographer asked him to compose a script about his everyday life. Within three weeks, Korine wrote "Kids", a film about 24 hours in the sex- and drug-filled lives of several Manhattan teenagers that has been touted as a realistic viewpoint of youth in New York City during the AIDS crisis. Clark had given Korine the direction to include in the plot of the screenplay a teenage AIDS experience. . [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=2:231470~T1 allmovie ((( Harmony Korine > Biography ))) ] ]


"Kids" & "Gummo" (1995-1998)

Korine first gained notoriety in 1995, at the age of 22, for the film "Kids", which examines the lives of several New York City teenagers who are coming of age in the era of AIDS. "Kids" garnered good reviews, but due to its NC-17/unrated rating, few of its intended audience actually saw the film upon its debut. However, it has since become a significant cult film. Among others, the film features Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson in their first movie roles.

Following his fame with "Kids", Korine directed and co-produced "Gummo" (1997), a film based on life in Xenia, Ohio, a town devastated by a tornado on April 3, 1974. Forgoing conventional narrative, "Gummo" embodies sketches written by Korine, hence the nonlinear, fragmented events over the course of the film capitalizing on the obscure. Much of the cast was found during preproduction where it was filmed in Tennessee, and of all those who appeared in the film, only five were experienced actors/actresses. The film is notable for having unsettling, often bizarre scenes, as well as its dreamlike soundtrack, which strengthens the disconcerting atmosphere.

It premiered at the 24th Telluride Film Festival on August 29 1997. During the screening, numerous people got up and left during the initial cat drowning sequence. After the screening, Werner Herzog - the prolific director associated with the German New Wave - and Harmony Korine hosted a Q&A session in which Werner gave praise to the film overall, especially the bacon taped to the wall during the bathtub scene. Later he told the New York Times, "When I saw a piece of fried bacon fixed to the bathroom wall in Gummo, it knocked me off my chair. [Korine's] a very clear voice of a generation of filmmakers that is taking a new position. It's not going to dominate world cinema, but so what?"Cite web|url=http://www.harmony-korine.com/paper/main/c_gummo.html|title=Harmony-Korine.com – News|accessdate=2007-03-22|format=html ]

Although a majority of mainstream critics derided it as an unintelligible mess, it won top prizes at that year's Venice Film Festival and earned Korine the respect of noted filmmakers such as Gus Van Sant, among others. Its stature has only grown in the ensuing years, gaining a cult classic status as a truly shocking and experimental film "unlike anything you've seen in a while -- maybe ever" -- and that "if you're the kind of person who claims to be frustrated by the predictability of commercial filmmaking, [it presents] a rare opportunity to put your money where your mouth is."Cite web|url=http://www.finelinefeatures.com/gummo/review02.html|title=Fine Line Features|accessdate=2007-03-22|format=html ]

In 1998, Korine made "The Diary of Anne Frank Part II", a 40-minute three-screen collage featuring a boy burying his dog, kids in satanic dress tearing apart and vomiting on a Bible, and a man in black-and-white minstrelsy make-up dancing and singing "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean". It utilizes some of the same actors and themes as "Gummo", and can be considered a companion piece. The film "further disgusted critics" and solidified his status as a notoriously shocking and experimental director.

"Julien Donkey-Boy" & "Ken Park" (1999-2003)

He originally intended to follow up "Gummo" with a short-lived project known as "Fight Harm", directed by illusionist David Blaine. It comprised footage of Korine engaging random people in actual street fights. In these he followed rules of always provoking the fight and continuing until threat of death. Korine, who often said he would die for the cinema, hoped to make a cross between a Buster Keaton vehicle and a snuff film, but after only six fights, he was hospitalized and forced to abandon the project.

Instead, Korine decided to make a film based on the experiences of his schizophrenic uncle. "Julien Donkey-Boy", released in 1999, included a signed Dogme 95 manifesto. While it broke a number of the movement's basic tenets, Lars Von Trier himself lauded Korine's ability to interpret the rules creatively.

The story is told from the perspective of a young man suffering from untreated schizophrenia, played by Ewen Bremner of "Trainspotting" fame, as he tries to understand his deteriorating world. Julien's abusive father is played by Werner Herzog. At one point, Korine was to play the son, but he backed down and was replaced by Evan Neumann.

Like "Gummo" and "Kids", it too has since become something of a cult classic, a go-to film for those seeking cinema that is, as Roger Ebert said in his three star review, "shocking for most moviegoers", unlike "the slick aboveground indie productions" that are now the norm.Cite web|url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19991105/REVIEWS/911050303/1023|title=Harmony Korine|accessdate=2006-12-27|publisher=rogerebert.com|year=1999|author=Ebert, Roger|work=Movie Reviews|format=xhtml]

In 2002, Larry Clark made the film "Ken Park", based on a script Korine had written several years earlier. The film, another adult tale of youth gone awry, was not distributed in the US and was banned in Australia due to scenes of sexual intercourse involving teens (played by actors who were 18 or over). At the time of its release, Clark and Korine had long since parted ways and Korine had no involvement in its production.

In 2003 he made the television documentary film "Above the Below" about his friend and collaborator David Blaine and his 44-day stunt in a park over the bank of River Thames in London inside a suspended Plexiglas box. A documentary commissioned by Sky Television and Channel 4, it also includes jokes, visual poetry, and music. In addition to the documentary, Korine has worked with Blaine on a number of Blaine's specials. Blaine also appears in Korine's next movie, "Mister Lonely", as a Panamanian priest.

"Mister Lonely" and later (2003-)

His third feature film, "Mister Lonely", began production in 2006, starring Diego Luna, Samantha Morton, Denis Lavant, Anita Pallenberg, David Blaine, Werner Herzog and Mal Whiteley. The film is co-written by his brother, Avi Korine.

The idea had its genesis after the release of "Julien Donkey-Boy" but drug use and general disillusionment (along with fund-raising difficulties) prolonged the process. In a February interview with Screen International he says: "I'd been making movies since I was virtually a kid, and it had always come very easily. At a certain point after the last movie, I started to have this general disconnect from things. I was really miserable with where I was. I began to lose sight of things and people started to become more and more distant. I was burnt out, movies were what I always loved in life and I started to not care. I went deeper and deeper into a dark place and to be honest movies were the last thing I was thinking about - I didn't know if I was going to be alive. My dream was to evaporate. I was unhealthy. Whatever happened during that time, and I won't go into the details, maybe it was something I needed to go through." [http://www.harmony-korine.com/ScreenIntl.pdf SI Feb 2 p34-35 lonely-tj.indd G ] ] In a 2003 interview with the "New York Post", former girlfriend Chloe Sevigny revealed that the formerly straight-edge Korine had become addicted to heroin and methadone while they were together, with Korine's substance abuse issues contributing to the end of their relationship. [http://www.chloesevigny.com/news_page5.html] [ [http://www.harmony-korine.com/paper/int/sevigny/thorn.html Harmony-Korine.com . Interviews & Articles ] ]

The story is of "a young American man lost in Paris. He scratches out a living as a Michael Jackson look-alike, dancing in the streets, in public parks, at tourist spots and trade shows. Different from everyone else, he feels as if he's floating between two worlds. During a car show Michael Jackson meets Marilyn Monroe. Haunted by her angelic beauty he follows her to a commune in the Highlands, joining her husband Charlie Chaplin and her daughter Shirley Temple. The commune is a place where everyone is famous and no-one gets old. Here, The Pope, The Queen of England, Madonna, James Dean and other impersonators build a stage in the hope that the world will visit and watch them perform. Nuns fall out of airplanes and children ride pigs. Everything is beautiful. Until the world shifts, and reality intrudes on their utopian dream."Cite web|url=http://www.harmony-korine.com/paper/main/news.html|title=Harmony-Korine.com – News|accessdate=2006-12-27|format=html]

Richard Strange, who plays Abraham Lincoln in the movie claimed that Korine often changed scenes and lines as he filmed the movie. [citation | title= Highland Flings| author=Richard Strange | publisher=ARTINFO | year=2008 | date= May 1, 2008| url=http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/27488/highlands-fling/| accessdate=2008-05-14 ]

The Screen International interview describes specifically "scenes being shot in an old people's home in the Ville de Bonnueil, an hour outside Paris, and the next day in the Luxembourg Gardens and Montparnasse", that "show typical Korine improvisational touches." It goes on to say: "In the retirement villa, where 'Michael' first meets 'Marilyn', Luna is dressed as a Dangerous-era Jackson, delivering some trademark whoops around some seriously aged Parisian senior citizens, singing, "You're never gonna die, I want you to live forever", as the residents fall asleep in their chairs. Morton proceeds to comfort a nonagenarian non-actor who appears to be hitting himself with a plastic hammer."

The movie finished production in early 2007 and debuted at Cannes. [ [http://european-films.net/content/view/642/107/ european-films.net - preview: Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely ] ] It will find wide release in early 2008 through IFC Films. [ [http://www.showbuzz.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/23/movies_toronto/main3197526.shtml IFC Buys 3 Toronto Film Fest Flicks, Indie Channel Acquires The Rights To Features Premiering At This Year's Event - The ShowBuzz ] ]

Korine also recently appeared in the 2007 documentary film "Beautiful Losers" in which his life and career were one of the focus of the film, along with other artists such as Mike Mills, Shepard Fairey and Barry McGee. In the documentary, Korine discusses his motivation as an artist and filmmaker, as well as his inspiration for creating films he has never seen. Shots from one of his earlier, untitled underground short films, which preceded his work in Kids, are shown as well as clips from Gummo and behind the scenes footage from Julien Donkey-Boy.

Other works


In 1998 Korine published a book entitled "A Crack Up at the Race Riots".

2002 saw the release of "Pass the Bitch Chicken", a collaboration with artist Christopher Wool. The book consists of Korine's photographs heavily edited by Korine and Wool.

In 2008 Nieves Books released the Original Filmscript of "Mister Lonely", with 22 Photographs by Rachel Korine and Brent Stewart.


He has also been involved with a number of major art projects, including "The Devil, The Sinner and His Journey", which featured Korine in blackface as O.J. Simpson and the actor Johnny Depp as Kato Kaelin. Much of his art is photography or video related to his films.

In particular, "Gummo" seems to have been the basis for much of his late-nineties artistic output. Most recently his works were presented in a 2003 exhibition at agnes b's Galerie du jour in Paris, with whom Korine has often been associated.


Korine has directed a number of music videos for artists such as Sonic Youth, Cat Power and Will Oldham. In addition, he sang on Oldham's "Ease Down The Road", and co-authored the lyrics of Björk's musical composition "Harm of Will" from her album "Vespertine" (2001). In 1999 Korine and Brian Degraw of Gang Gang Dance released a music CD "SSAB Songs". "I don't really know what it sounds like", Korine explained to i-D magazine. "I only listened to it once. I think it's the kind of album I'd only listen to once".


In 2008 Harmony Korine was signed to MJZ for worldwide commercial representation.

Themes and influence

Much of Korine's work is based around the dark humor and absurdism involved in dysfunctional childhoods, mental disorders, and poverty.Cite web|url=http://www.atypon-link.com/INT/doi/abs/10.1386/ncin.3.2.115/1?journalCode=ncin|title=Harmony Korine|accessdate=2007-01-18|publisher=Journal of Contemporary Film|year=2005|author=White, Duncan ] This is often incorporated into surrealist, non-linear forms and presented experimentally (see the mix of Polaroids, Super 8 and high definition film that makes up "Gummo").

Another major theme is of the 19th century American blackface minstrel show, as seen in his "No More Workhorse Blues" music video and a number of his short films. Most enigmatically he mentioned in a 1995 Letterman appearance that he was working on a biopic of a one-legged Olympic swimmer resembling Stepin Fetchit.

Though mainstream success has eluded Korine he has gained a significant cult following. Despite the scorn of a majority of mainstream reviewers, he has won festival prizes at Venice and Rotterdam, among others, and established directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci and Gus Van Sant are outspoken proponents of Korine's genius. A significant number of scholarly essays have been written on the importance of his oeuvre to film and art in general.Cite web|url=http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=harmony+korine&hl=en&lr=&btnG=Search|title=Harmony Korine – Google Scholar|accessdate=2006-12-27|publisher=Google|work=Google Scholar]

As critic Roger Ebert said in his review of "Julien Donkey-Boy", "Korine, who at 25 is one of the most untamed new directors, belongs on the list with Godard, Cassavetes, Herzog, Warhol, Tarkovsky, Brakhage and others who smash conventional movies and reassemble the pieces... Harmony Korine is the real thing, an innovative and gifted filmmaker whose work forces us to see on his terms."

In a 1999 Dazed and Confused magazine article Korine listed his top ten films as: "Pixote" by Hector Babenco, "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven" by Terrence Malick, "Fat City" by John Huston, "Stroszek" by Werner Herzog, "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" and "A Woman Under the Influence" by John Cassavetes, "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" by Robert Altman, "Out of the Blue" by Dennis Hopper and "Hail Mary" by Jean-Luc Godard.


Feature films

* "Kids" (1995) (screenplay only)
* "Gummo" (1997)
* "Julien Donkey-Boy" (1999)
* "Ken Park" (2002) (screenplay only)
* "Mister Lonely" (2007)

hort films

* "The Diary Of Anne Frank Part II" (1998)
* "Korine Tap" (2000)
* "Jokes" (2000) (unfinished anthology with Gus Van Sant)
* "Fight Harm" (2001) (unfinished film with David Blaine)

Documentary films

* "Above the Below" (2003)
* "Beautiful Losers" (2007) (interviewee only)

Music videos

* "Casper the Friendly Ghost" by Daniel Johnston (1995)
* "Sunday" by Sonic Youth (1998)
* "No More Workhorse Blues" by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (2004)
* "Living Proof" by Cat Power (2006)


*Thorntons - "Stuck" (2007)



* [http://www.2am.co.uk/commercials.php?director=41&selected=287&width=640&height=359] 2AM Films website

External links

*imdb name|id=0005101|name=Harmony Korine
* [http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/03/korine.html Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database]


* [http://www.dvblog.org/?s=Harmony+Korine&submit=Search Harmony Korine (DVblog)]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4115488848956565538 deleted scene from Julien Donkey-Boy (Google Video)]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=195887764787260122 deleted scene 2 from Julien Donkey-Boy (Google Video)]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3142341747164689673 The Name of this Film is Dogme 95 - Saul Metzstein (Google Video)]

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