Trash Humpers // As Good As It Gets
I usually lose friends because of my love for Harmony Korine. "Please rent Gummo. It will change your life." I like the feeling that I feel like I'm one of 10 people in the world who feel that way about Gummo. Needless to say I didn't invite my wife to see Trash Humpers, but she might have actual liked this "screwball comedy." It's 75 minutes of Korine absurdity, almost as if his fanzines come to life, with nameless, badly made-up elderly characters, nihilists, fornicating with garbage and alley weed, trees and street lamps. For a few fleeting moments that premise felt sincere, even pure by sexualizing the "stuff" around us or destroying it. Those two extreme emotions towards inanimate objects is really just an act of youth. To see Korine, in the role of the slightly younger videographer, explain why these people do this with their lives, is kind of enlightening.
The rest is what Korine calls a "ode to vandalism," nostalgia full of VHS memories, so vivid you can almost hear the analog tape cranking in the machine. As surreal as Korine imagines these darkened streets and empty lots, broke-down cars and decrepit homes, there's something very nightmarish and tangible about these blurry, lo-fi vignettes that hits close to home. It's as if Korine has captured the juvenalia, the films we would have likely made as children were we equipped with cameras. On Walnut St. and in the alleys and train tracks that twisted through the neighborhood, we would play "Teenagers." It was basically a "game" or play-acting, using rocks, busted glass, dead animals, splintered wood, abandoned garages and factories, tunnels and tresses, inoperable machinery, creeks and concrete, younger, more impressionable neighbor kids, as our props. This was our world and my how we could imagine a wasteland that we ruled, Lord Of The Flies-like. That's all you've got in small town life when left to your own devices. It's a reflection and reminder of those memories. Even the portly kid mutilating the baby doll reminds me of the time Micheal Peters flung his cat seven feet in the opposite direction. It was a chance to be the adults, only without the adult provisions or moral code to keep order. I doubt we ever humped trash, but it's likely one of us did at some point. The fine line between innocence and abject discovery.
Trash Humpers could easily be seen as a primitive precursor to Gummo. Post-Dogme '95, it's his most stripped naked film, with no real story or climax, but somehow maintaining a heart and a endpoint. As good as Korine's oeuvre of "whore" can get.
I realize I've done a lot of rah-rah-ing for Trash Humpers already, but if you haven't listened to the interview below, it's well worth the time spent.
Sub. Ref. video ventures