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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. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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