From Harmony Korine, screenwriter of Kids, comes a haunting portrait of life in small-town America. Through a collection of dreamlike and devastating images, Korine offers a glimpse of Xenia, Ohio, a world existing in the ... more »aftermath of a tornado.« less
Steve A. (Cenobite) from ROGUE RIVER, OR Reviewed on 7/31/2008...
A good amount of the "cast" in this movie are real people and this is a real town. A lot of the film is loosely scripted. A very odd look into the lives of some very odd characters. It's kinda scary that people are really like this but I love it all the same. With hurricane Katrina and things of that nature going on it's kinda scary how messed up a community could become due to the government turning it's back on them. One of my favorite movies. Not for the faint of heart (or stomach) or those without an open mind.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jeff V. (burielofmel) from HARRIMAN, TN Reviewed on 5/10/2008...
Man, it seems like this town is real. Except for a couple of places there doesn't seem to be a script but I'm sure there was. I've actually lived in a place in Ohio where the people acted a lot like these people. I even lived next door to some asshole teenager that killed cats like the two kids in this movie. It's very realistic. They seem like depressingly real people. My favorite scene in the movie is where two elementary school age kids are dressed as cowboys with cap guns and they're playing in the junkyard. These little kids are talking about how much they hate cops and they're talking about the reason the cops hate them so much is because they get more P***Y than the cops do. These kids are like in the second or third grade probably. This is followed by a scene with a kid wearing rabbit ears. That scene in the junkyard with the rabbit kid and the two cap gun kids is my favorite scene in the movie. This is much better, in my opinion, than the more famous KIDS which was made by the same guy. I also noticed that the characters wear old school 80s heavy metal shirts. I'm not sure but I think it may have been stuff like Def Leppard and Krokus. There are scenes where the killing of cats looks real but I read that it wasn't.
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Like nothing you've ever seen on TV
John M Flora | Brookland, AR United States | 05/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Harmony Korine may or may not be the latest "enfant terrible," but he's certainly given us something to think about with "Gummo." He's given us about 90 minutes of in-your-face immersion into a culture that most of us only glimpse in "Cops" and other "reality" programs that deal with the hopeless, hapless people who make up the bottom strata of White America.
We suddenly find ourselves immersed in a culture where single moms huff glue with their teenage sons and their buddies and where boys hunt neighborhood cats with BB guns and sell the carcasses to a guy who supplies meat to Chinese restaurants. As the story develops, we learn the boys spend their cat money on glue and the services of a young prostitute who looks like Anna Nicole Smith with a lobotomy.
This movie is like a train wreck - at once horrifying and mesmerizing.
I disagree with an earlier reviewer who saw "Gummo" as an outrageous piece of elitism.
I think that charge misses the point. This is not some arrogant exposé of the quaint ways of the poor, it's a 90-minute tour of the self-perpetuating Culture of Stupidity that can be found on the fringes of every city and town in America. These are people who turn bad choices into a way of life because that's what their parents did and their parents before them. Yes, Korine packs the screen with enough geeks and freaks to populate a dozen circus sideshows, but his point is well taken. This is a strata of society that Hollywood ignores, except for the occasional cameo role in films like "Deliverance." It's a vision of a reality that we recognize instantly from our day-to-day experience, but which is carefully filtered out of the mass media.
Whether Korine has talent or promise in any convential sense of the words remains to be seen, but he's created a unique film that is destined to become a cult classic.
But, as an earlier reviewer noted, this is not a suitable date night substitute for "Casablanca" or "The Sound of Music.""
There's something about Gummo...
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 06/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you describe this film to people, and tell them you like it, they'll think you're insane and disturbed. It's a documentary/collage like film about white trash. Some advertisements for the film have tried to portray it as a comedy, but it isn't. It's mostly vignettes from the town of Xenia, Ohio, where white trash and their values reign supreme. Cat killers (no cats were actually harmed), paying for sex with mentally handicapped people, white trash beating up chairs, and paint huffing are some of the attractions you'll see here. But Korine edits and films it in, dare I say, an artistic and interesting way. There is something going on here. This was an independent movie, but most indie movies are just quirky films that aren't that different than what mainstream Hollywood gives us. This is a real independent film. Korine films in 8mm, video, 16mm, and 35mm. He doesn't seem interested in crossover appeal with his work. He captures the despair and nihilism of these white trash denziens. And some of the images stick in your mind, like the kid taking a bath at the end eating spaghetti in a filthy tub. Korine has made only 2 features, but they are both certainly worth watching, and quite beautiful, in their own, strange way. This is a very good film....
Inspiring...the punk rock of movies
E. Levine | 04/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're adventurous in your movie watching you'll at least respect Gummo and you might even come out truly inspired. I've never seen a more original film. Godard, Bunuel, Peter Greenaway and a few others have probably done some things that were just as original but not more so. But that's not to say it's some dull art film that you have to research to understand. Far from it. Gummo is a punch in the face. It's about real people and real life. Kids do sniff glue and kill cats and rednecks do tear stuff up when they get wasted. They always have. I'm almost 30 and they certainly did in the 70s when I was a kid. Gummo takes realism to whole new level but it's not just a nihilistic rant. It's a sort of collage of rural, white lower-class survival. Of course it's not all pretty, and a lot of it maybe just a little too ugly for some, but there is beauty too. And I think the real beauty is that nobody's dreaming of a better life. People go around dreaming of a better life all day in Hollywood movies. In real life, most people try to make money so they can eat and have a little fun. They dream on the side.Gummo is the film American Beauty wished it could have been."
Strange, sick, mesmerizing, surreal
Tobias K. | Aachen, Germany | 12/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have just seen this movie, and I must say it is ambivalent. Very sick passages and ideas (wacko-kids from rural areas living out bizarre passions and experiencing strange situations), but the film has indeed very funny moments as well (e.g. the chair-squashing). There is no plot, nor is a plot intended. The surreal camera work, the "main" story being interrupted by rural persons talking about themselves (which is largely silly), the soundtrack containing grotesque songs at times (Death Metal, sick children choirs etc.) - all this reminds me a bit of Jim Jarmusch's "Permanent Vacation" (1982), an equally surreal film (if you liked Gummo, you should watch this!). The point I want to make here is: this is actually a MOVIE. Other reviewers have complained about a wrong picture concerning beautiful Ohio and about the film having no impact on them (funny then, why do they write reviews?). A cynical and surreal movie as Gummo is not a report - it is a point of view (or have you ever seen Terminators walking around in New York City?). This point of view may not be pleasing, nor elevating, nor relaxing - it forces one to think (even by being disgusting at times). And everything that makes one think, every such thorn in the flesh - is true art."
E. Levine | Madison, WI USA | 10/30/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Honestly, I don't know how to feel about this film. The formal structure of the film is brilliant. Korine uses a collage style that mixes film, digital video, home movies, and photos. He employs not a conventional linear narrational structure, but a more associational, non-linear logic that resembles poetry rather film. This idea of form has great potential, but I don't know that Korine fulfills that potential. Gummo is so reference-heavy (much like the poetry of T.S. Eliot) that it's almost impossible to understand all of the connections Korine makes and to understand the metaphors. Many of the images he uses (like Bunny Boy) have the potential to be symbolic, but in an interview on the special features of the DVD, Korine explains that like Bunny Boy and the title, Gummo, a lot of the images and references were things that he chose just because he liked them and wanted to see them in a movie. To attribute symbolic meaning to these things may be beneficial for the viewer as a personal exercise, and if an audience is affected by the associations they make on their own, that's great. However, I think that giving the credit to Korine just because he chose images he simply likes may be unwarranted.
I also think that Korine also uses a lot of shocking material for the sake of shock. Gummo is set in Xenia, Ohio (though actually shot near Nashville) and focuses on the poverty-stricken society that strives to exist in the aftermath of a tornado (although attributing the state of the town on the tornado seems like a red herring). So much of what the film depicts is pretty disturbing. We see kids who kill cats and huff glue, a man who prostitutes his sister with downs syndrome, and a girl who describes the sexual abuse she receives regularly at home, just to cite a few scenes. Most of the characters are violent, racist, and ignorant, and many of the actors are actually members of the surrounding community who are playing themselves. As a result, I sometimes feel like Korine is exploiting them as freaks. This especially concerns me in the scenes involving Ellen, the mentally disabled woman who is shown shaving her eyebrows off. I'm worried that Korine is somehow trying to benefit from the spectacle of this image, and the shock value it has, which I find cheap. I think Korine does a lot to shock his viewers and not much in the way of making us sympathize with his characters, especially those who are violent and racist.
Fans of the movie often defend Korine's intentions by arguing that he is attempting to show that although these people seem like lowlifes and freaks, they are still beautiful and interesting in their own right. I do agree that they are beautiful and interesting, but I don't think that Korine is responsible for giving us that. He is so busy showing us the gutter of humanity that when he does attempt to show us the beauty, it's buried under the hatred, violence, and abuse the characters subject each other to. Korine doesn't show us beauty overpowering the grotesque, though perhaps he attempts to. What we end up with is beauty buried under the grotesque. For that reason, I don't think the actual thematic content of the film lives up to the potential given by the form Korine has created. Each time I see Gummo, I walk away feeling pretty indifferent about the characters, like I haven't learned anything I didn't know before. I don't think anyone can presume to know what Korine "meant" by the film or if there was any greater intention at all. If there was, I think Korine's attempts to express it were ineffective."