This past weekend, Harmony Korine became the 15th recipient of the Provincetown International Film Festival’s ‘Filmmaker on the Edge’ Award. And as per the festival’s tradition, each year’s recipient sits down with the inaugural winner of the award, Mr. John Waters, at Provincetown’s town hall.
Here’s some highlights from their unsurprisingly lively conversation:
John Waters on “Spring Breakers”: “He’s the only director that ever made me leer after naked female Disney
Waters finds some common ground with Korine: Waters asked Korine if he had a trouble getting an R-rating for “Spring Breakers.” “I always have trouble,” said Korine. “It seems like if my name’s on it, I run into trouble.” “I know what you mean,” Waters said, to a house full of laughter. “I think they had issues with — there are some huge black asses on there,” Korine continued. “None of the stars were showing their vaginas.”
Korine on bikinis over prison wear: “I love in ‘Spring Breakers’ when they get arrested and their entire tribe go to prison wearing bikinis,” Waters gushed. “I was going to have them put on jumpsuits,” Korine revealed (or joked?), “but I thought they looked better.”
Waters on “Trash Humpers”: “After seeing
— no, not seeing, but elegantly suffering happily through ‘Trash
Humpers,’ well, I’m finally considering fucking a trash can because of
How bad reviews help/hurt: The New York Times’ Janet Maslin infamously called Korine’s debut “Gummo” the worst film of 1997 in her review. “I built a career on bad reviews — did bad reviews help you?” Waters asked Korine. Korine then proceeded to recall when he first came across Maslin’s review. “It was during the days when people would fax you your reviews,” he said. “They would be on the floor and shit and I just walked in and saw one saying ‘Worst movie of the year,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Damn, some poor son of a bitch.’ And I was like, ‘What the fuck, that’s about my movie!’ It didn’t even sound like she sat through the film. That was the year ‘8 Heads in a Duffel Bag’ came out. Werner Herzog called me and he was cracking up and he was like, ‘This is the best thing that has ever happened. In 10 years you will understand it.’
“I was — I was high probably — pissed off,” Korine continued. “Honestly, and this is the truth, I don’t fight reviews, good or bad. I don’t think about that. Obviously you want people to enjoy the film and to get something from it. For me there’s no right or way wrong to interpret the film. I make films that invite that. But what sucked was that she had a lot of power at the time — this was pre-internet — so they put it out in like five theaters after that.”
On whether Korine really stole Meryl Streep’s pocketbook when they were both on Letterman: “I’m not judging,” Waters said after asking Korine about the rumor (which Waters said was “one of the most delightful things he’s ever heard”). “Those years are hazy,” Korine answered. “I don’t really remember. It’s possible… If it was there at that time in my life, it could have happened.”
Korine on his abandoned “Fight Harm” movie: “I was trying to make the funniest film ever,” Korine said, describing it as a “cross between Buster Keaton and a snuff film.” “I thought maybe I would just get in fights where I lose and I would fight every demographic… I’d make this film where I’d fight every type of human being. Lesbians, an albino, a Jewish guy.” After shooting nine fights, Korine eventually realized he couldn’t sustain himself through the physical harm of the project.
Waters gets Korine to admit the rumor that quaaludes were involved in that project: “The quaaludes were to help the pain and make it so I didn’t have any fear,” Korine said. “I knew a guy on Long Island who was cooking those up, and I’d just buy a bag full. And then I would take them right before. And then the next day is when you’d wake up and be like ‘holy shit, my ankle is hanging off.'”
Korine on what he thinks is the “most irresponsible movie ever made”: “The most irresponsible movie ever made is really a title,” Waters told Korine after saying his friend had suggested ‘Spring Breakers’ was indeed that film. “What do you think is the most irresponsible movie ever made?” Korine replied quickly: “Forrest Gump.”
Watch Waters introduce the conversation below: