I guess masculinity bores me when it’s not giving me a boner. I hate action movies for the most part. I want to gouge my eyes out when I realize a movie is building toward an epic battle sequence (even worse, when the movie in question is a bastardized version of a classic girly story).
Maybe that’s why I get such a particular thrill when men write stories or make movies primarily about women. I feel like directors do some of their best work when they focus on femininity. Take David Lynch for instance. I am not a fan of Wild at Heart. The violence in it is dumb and obnoxious. The female characterizations are grotesque and uncomfortable. It’s a valid work and has lots to recommend, but it’s not brilliant.
I think it’s meaningful that Lynch’s arguably most groundbreaking work, Mulholland Dr, is the first movie he made that is focused on female protagonists. The whole movie is filled with femmy energy, chock full of vagina symbolism: apartments, purses, boxes, the hidden spaces behind and around and inside things.
And while this is an unpopular opinion, I think Death Proof is Tarantino’s best movie. The pacing is different from any of his other movies. It’s languid and dreamy (when it’s not featuring women getting run down on the highway, that is).
Both of those movies came to mind when I was watching Spring Breakers, particularly Mulholland Dr. “C’mon, it’ll be just like in the movies,” says one of our girls on Mulholland Dr. “Just act like you’re in a movie,” says one of our spring breakers. Of course, in both instances, we are in the world of movies, but also of fantasies and dreams. Perhaps the best way I can recommend Spring Breakers is to say that I never knew what was coming next – sort of like a dream. That’s not something you can say about many movies: heroes generally prevail, villains are felled, romances consummated. Several times in Spring Breakers, characters pause to recount events that have just happened as if trying to make sense of it themselves. Seemingly important characters up and disappear when they aren’t needed anymore – a choice I found bold and thrilling.
The casting creates its own tension and plot. Everyone is acting and trying on personas, some with more success and authenticity than others. It’s easy to discount the zeitgeisty hot-button youth-culture elements of the movie, but I think they are part of its genius – it makes the movie as much about how it was made as what it’s about. For while movies might just be dreams to us, they are highly constructed things. The way that Spring Breakers is great, and the way it compares to some of the greatest movies, is that it is often about its existence as much as it’s about anything else.