Jeff & Sara's Top Ten 2013: Number 8

Posted 1:19 PM December 30th, 2013 by Binh Ngo
Spring Breakers

We're here at number 8, and both Sara and Jeff have some interesting choices for us: Spring Breakers and Muscle Shoals.

Spring Breakers is Harmony Korine's cautionary/coming-of-age tale about, well, college girls behaving badly during Spring Break and discovering who they really are in the process. The movie stars James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine.

Muscle Shoals is a documentary about Rick Hall and his FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The songs produced at the studio includes "When a Man Loves a Woman," "Brown Sugar," "I'll Take You There," and others.

Spring Breakers is reasonably well-liked by the critics, with a Tomatometer score of 66%, but box office-wise, not a lot of people went out and see it. It only made $31 million worldwide. Given its $5M budget, it's a success.

With a Tomatometer score of 97%, Muscle Shoals is probably one of the best-reviewed movies of 2013 that no one saw. I'm not even sure it broke $1M at the box office.

Here are the trailers:
Spring Breakers

Muscle Shoals

Binh: Jeff, let's start off with you. Muscle Shoals one your best movies of 2013 and number 8 at that. Why?

Jeff: I think it's difficult at this point to put together a music documentary that manages to tell an untold (or at least under-told) story while retaining broad appeal, and that's what Muscle Shoals does -- everybody knows this music, but only hardcore aficionados know that so much of it came out of one studio and a small crew of backing musicians. It's unfortunately clumsy in some respects (no one can make me believe Bono is in here for any reason other than to raise the movie's profile), but none of its missteps really detract from what's ultimately a very poignant story about tolerance, perseverance, forgiveness, and the power of song. Plus, you can't beat that soundtrack.

Binh: Tell us why you put Spring Breakers 8th, Sara. What do you tell those who wouldn't see it because they might feel guilty about ogling young women in bikinis? Is it that type of movie?

Sara: That's part of the questionably genius of Harmonie Korine--a guy I don't uniformly like, in fact he really tries to be hateworthy. That's what you get if you learn your publicity schtick from Lars-I-Understand-the-Nazis-von-Trier.

He's selling the film with the same outrageousness that it ultimately casts as a danger. These girls steal to go on Spring Break, live grossly in their bikinis (massive montages way closer to x than Girls Gone Wild ever got) and then slide back towards hard crime as a result--if it had less booty it could be an add for the Mormon Church. Korine corners a market making it grossly alluring to the kind of guy who wears a trench coat to the theater--but all the kids who go to see it because they think they ARE Spring Breakers suffer the painful, gut-wrenching moral angst the girls do. No one gets out clean.

I can see why that's hard to like, but for as hard as it is to like, it's even harder to forget.

Binh: The most memorable scene in Muscle Shoals is?

Jeff: Well, as you guys know, I started out as a music critic -- and I'm also a huge Stax geek -- so Muscle Shoals is no-blinking territory for me, packed with grin-inducing moments. But if I have to pick one moment, I guess it'd be the part of the movie that talks about Aretha Franklin's introduction to the FAME players, culminating with Spooner Oldham's quiet keyboard noodling that saved the session.

Binh: And Sara, what’s the definitive scene in Spring Breakers?

Sara: I'm trapped between my love of two scenes: the Chicken Shack robbery with its one shot virtuoso stunt that had me holding my breath, or the Britney Spears cover/montage before the climax.

Binh: Since the one-who-shall-not-be-named was brought up in one of our emails, how would the movie turn out if Lars Von Trier was directing it? Let's start with Jeff first.

Jeff: Rather than emphasizing the steady grace of Rick Hall's life and career, he'd emphasize the many setbacks, and close on an image of an aging man, worn in by avarice and changing trends. And all the performance footage would have the music muted out -- it would be replaced with something by Wagner.

Sara: Ha! Sounds like he and Terrence Malick would have similar tacks:-)

Binh: And you, Sara?

Sara: You mean Spring Breakers? I tremble at the torture-porn prospects of that directed by von Trier. Holy heck, man, did you see Antichrist?! Those poor co-eds! Good lord. I won't sleep tonight.

Jeff: Yeah, I'm with Sara -- the prospect of a Von Trier-directed Spring Breakers is terrifying. I'm flinching so hard inside.

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