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Hammerle on ... 'Spring Breakers,' 'The Gatekeepers'

Robert Hammerle
April 10, 2013
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bob hammerle movie reviewsSpring Breakers

“Spring Breakers” is a colossally idiotic film looking for love in all the wrong places. College girls are treated as a group of sex-starved idiots with a propensity for armed robbery if short on cash.

I took my 22-year-old Saudi foreign exchange student, Thamer, along to cover my dwindling reputation, and he found the scenes involving spring break activities in Florida to be largely accurate. It’s not hard to grasp how college-age students are attracted to an environment overpowered by thousands of drunken colleagues.

But please don’t assume that “Spring Breakers” is a comic take of college kids on the make. To the contrary, this is a dire film about dull, twisted college women who are looking for excitement regardless of the consequences. In the process, they link up with a wretched underworld drug dealer who provides them with a free ticket to his own version of hell.
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The movie is like getting stabbed with a dull knife. Incredibly, many scenes and accompanying dialogue are pathetically repeated. The audience is asked to believe that college girls find group sex, hard drugs and an occasional arrest preferable to the boredom of a college education. There is not a single character in this film that you won’t passionately dislike, and I mean no one.

The film focuses on four college female friends, two of them played by the Disney veterans Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. The girls spend the entire film in skimpy attire, which proves to be their greatest attribute.

Furthermore, you quickly get an idea of where this movie is heading when the four airheads pull off an armed robbery of a restaurant near their school in order to obtain the money needed for their spring vacation. As I told Thamer, it is best to avoid these ladies at all times, as who knows when they will stick a gun to your head to rob you if times prove desperate.

But the movie becomes wretchedly morbid with the appearance of James Franco. A white drug dealer/gangsta rapper with a collection of silver teeth, the girls link up with him when he gets them out of jail. Sadly, all but Ms. Gomez find themselves enamored with a guy who resembles one of the characters in George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968).

While the film tries to repeatedly focus on the excesses that occur during spring break, it all becomes meaningless. Mr. Franco ends up in a war with some black competitors led by Gucci Mane, and the girls soon become quite accomplished as his adoring hit women.

There are many dull, repulsive things about this convoluted film, most centering on the decision of director Harmony Korine to paint college girls as little more than born floozies who view college as a complete waste of time. It is one thing to embrace a spring break trip as a week of frivolity and excess, but quite another to treat it as a door into a murderous, sadistic lifestyle.

The Gatekeepers

Dror Moreh’s documentary “The Gatekeepers” deserved its Oscar nomination this past year. Though “Searching for Sugar Man” won the top prize in this category, it is hard to understand how this searing political mosaic could have been denied.

In a not so subtle manner, Moreh shines a spotlight on the unending Israeli/Palestinian conflict. By gaining candid interviews with the six retired former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet, he allows them to tell their remarkable stories in a fashion that pulls no punches concerning lost hope and disappointing dreams.

You need to remember all six gentlemen: Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillon, Yaakov Peri and Avraham Shalom. While all remember the lingering PLO threat to drive Israel into the sea, they force all supporters of Israel to confront uncomfortable truths. As the leaders of the Israeli security agency, they carating2ll upon their country and supporters to remember Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s willingness to take necessary chances in the name of long-term regional survival.

On the surface, these guys are remarkably candid concerning their principal goal of eliminating suspected terrorists. When a question was asked if they worried about the morality of their occasional actions, one responded that morality plays no role when you are dealing with terrorists. In other words, they don’t have any, so you don’t either.

However, what is so stunning about the film is the obvious regret shared by our retired “Gang of Six.” For example, they alone could be intuitive enough to articulate that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Simply put, this struggle cannot be determined by military force.

This film is a provocative reminder that when backing Israel politically, nothing is gained when everything is approved. These Shin Bet gurus point out the unfortunate tragedy that followed Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War in 1967. More to the point, the observation was made that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is chillingly reminiscent of Germany’s occupation of France, Holland and Czechoslovakia during World War II. One cannot ignore the significance of that point when it is made by a former Jewish head of Shin Bet.

Finally, all the guys felt that there was a failure of political will in Israel following the assassination of Rabin in 1995. While the Palestinians under Yasser Arafat were trying to make sense out of cooperating with Rabin’s Israel, the manic opposition in Israel clearly played a role in Rabin’s death. Any student of history can see the end result, which includes Israeli settlements in the occupied territory more than doubling.

This is a film that needs to be seen, and the six Shin Bet men need to be heard. They are thoughtful and passionately honest, and they know that the Israelis and Palestinians cannot solve their ongoing conflict without sitting down and talking. You may not like your adversary, but that is no excuse to avoid a conversation.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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