Favorite New Films: Trash Humpers

posted by The Joe

Harmony Korine has always struck me as a filmmaker who tries too hard. His work has only ever come off as constant, childish button-pushing, and after watching Trash Humpers, I think what he’s been missing until now is a complete immersion in the universe he was striving for; Gummo still fit into the early 90s American indie landscape, Julien Donkey-Boy was riding the tails of the Dogme movement, and Mister Lonely . . . well, Mister Lonely is the black sheep in the filmography just for being kind of normal.

But Trash Humpers is in a world all its own. Though influence can be traced to Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small, Korine’s brilliant use of VHS transforms this bizarre, bare-bones character study into something otherworldly. It’s much like Brown Bunny, where I can’t help but be impressed with the complete dedication to its unique, audience-dividing style, and it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s aiming for that divide. The film starts immediately in its groove and never lets up, so the ‘shocks’ become standard quickly enough to shift attention to subtler aspects like the rather beautiful atmosphere shots and the boredom or bewilderment of random background characters, even the Trash Humpers themselves.

Or maybe it does try too hard, and it’s just my undying love of the VHS medium clouding my eyes. Whatever. This won’t work for most folks, much like Korine’s past work hasn’t worked for me, but Trash Humpers’ ability to aim for something completely different and actually be interesting while doing so is a notable achievement.

Trash Humpers screens in Minneapolis this Friday & Saturday at midnight at the Uptown Theatre.


Friday, July 2nd, 2010 at 3:13 am