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Charlatans

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Harmony Korine has returned, and the people whose solemn weekly duty it is to fill magazine column space could not be happier.

This tidbit opened a recent New York magazine profile: “It’s hard to imagine this today, but Harmony Korine was once considered a threat to something besides himself.” Not really—unless playing Groucho to Janet Maslin’s Margaret Dumont at the Times passes for subversive (the article also contains this nostalgic chestnut from Professional Art Personality Ryan McGinley: “Being bad with Harm back then was like shooting dope with Burroughs”—the mind boggles).

Harmony Korine’s masterpiece, to date, has been the creation and maintenance of his own niche celebrity brand, which depends on that bogus “threat.” He entered public life with Larry Clark’s Kids (1995), springing full-formed from a publicist’s wet dreams: “22-Year-Old Skate Rat-cum-Screenwriter Tells Tough Truth About Youth of Today!” It was a hook that had worked before (Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour tristesse) and which has been resorted to since (Nikki Reed’s Thirteen). The public persona he developed is inextricable from his films—it’s difficult to know what’s promoting what—and I’ll not attempt the separation. Click here to read Nick Pinkerton’s review of Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely.

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