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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. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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