Gummo - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gummo Reviews

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November 25, 2017
Oh, childhood! What a wonderful and special time!
November 8, 2017
Gummo is a 1997 film directed and written by Harmony Korine. It was also Korine's first feature film. The film was produced by Independent Pictures with a budget of 1.3 million dollars and was filmed in Nashville, Tennessee although the picture is set in the small town of Xenia, Ohio. The film does not follow a particular narrative trajectory and does not end in any conclusive way. It follows the everyday life of two uneducated and poverty stricken boys through a series of lo fi 'home recording' esque clips. Aside from these two boys it also follows two blonde bombshell sisters and their exploration of self and sexuality, a lost cause rabbit boy, twin brothers who murdered their parents, and a multitude of abnormal families. The beauty of Gummo stems from the absorption of the audience into the lives of these working class characters without patronizing or romanticizing their unrealized disconnect with modern and civilized society. It offers up an alternate way of life within our reality and forces you to observe and think upon it critically and without any specific direction or path. Harmony Korine employs a variety of tactics and concepts to assist him with his vision manifested within the film. Those concepts include friction of sensory aids to symbolize the disconnect within the character's relationships, the use of simple film medium to convey the character's simple lifestyles, and finally the appearance of Harmony Korine himself within the film.
First, I will be analyzing the friction of sensory aids to symbolize the disconnect within the character's relationships. For example, a girl is recollecting her past through storytelling. She speaks about how the men in her family would get home from work and go into her room and lay on top of her. While they would lay on top of her they would tell her that they are not there to hurt her and they are only there to make her feel good. They would rape her. She also talks about how she had consistent and ongoing sexual relationships with the men in her family behind her mom's and sister's back. While this voice over is playing in the background innocent visuals of the family would play. The family would be shown eating dinner or sitting out on the front porch, they appear happy.
This concept is very disturbing because of the contrast between dark and light, good and bad. The story that the girl is telling is morbid and disgusting while the visual is happy and joyous. There is an ever apparent contrast between Korine's style and modern film's style. Korine contrasts the two elements while most of the time modern film complements the auditory aid with the visual aid. Korine bashes the two together to create friction while modern film makes these elements harmonious. This element contributes to the overall takeaway from the film in a prime fashion. It creates discomfort and confusion, it pushes you away from the norm and that is what this film is all about.
Next, I will be analyzing the use of simple film medium to convey the character's simple lifestyles. For example, the two main characters, Solomon and Tummler, are riding bikes down the street. A very simple activity, right? This is conveyed to the audience through a very simple filming style. Actually, the most known and simple film style there is, home video. Harmony Korine films the whole experience through home video to simplify the film's premise. He wanted to convey life of the characters as simple. What better way to do that than show the audience through simple and basic film medium. Aside from the use of the home video Harmony Korine is also consistent with the way he shoots the characters and their interplay. If there is something important going on with a character the camera will make it very obvious. The camera consistently follows the characters that are important within the moment and they do not let you take your eyes off of them. After awhile you get the sense that you are in their world and are droning around with them. There is a major contrast between Korine's tactics and modern film's tactics. There is an immense variety of filming styles within the realm of cinema and film. Modern film uses techniques that are much more complex and they leave a lot more up to the imagination. On the other hand, Korine stays humble, simple, and blunt. If he wants you to see something he will not leave any other distractions in the way. This element of film language is the prime contributor to the films premise. It draws a direct relationship with what you are seeing to what you should be thinking.
Lastly, I will be analyzing the appearance of Harmony Korine within the film. Harmony Korine does not appear as himself but as just a boy on the couch. He is only on screen for a brief time, nearly 60 seconds. He makes this time count, every last second. He realizes both in the film and outside of it that way he says matters. As the boy on the couch he paints us a picture of his life. He speaks of depression and anxiety. He shows us that his entire family is dead and there is no one left on this earth to love him. He is a mess and he knows it, he is ready to die on that couch. Outside of the film he inserted that information with a dual purpose. The first and most surface level purpose was to form a generalization of the character's lives. He shows himself as average and the audience is left to believe that his circumstance is normal. The second and more cryptic purpose was to satirically comment on his life and the reality he is surrounded with. He is a cynic with a message and he purposefully let it bleed into the film. In modern film this is not seen often, except from the likes of Quentin tarantino, who accomplishes this feat with elegance and grace. The use of this concept is very important within two spheres. The world of this film and within Harmony Korine's world. Without this important moment in the film it would be impossible for the audience to tie the connection between Korine's reality and his message that he attempts to speak through the film.
To the plain eye Gummo seems to be simple in substance and it is very easy to understand. Harmony Korine ingeniously sneaks covert and sublime messages and symbolism into this film to build its cryptic and conceptual value. After each watch you understand more. You understand more about the character interplay, Harmony Korine, and the scene and movement Harmony Korine is the prestige of. After each watch and reflection you uncover more understanding of the world within the film and Korine's world outside the film. The film seems so surface level at first but with more thought and reflection it blossoms into something much more sophisticated. In Gummo Harmony Korine wields a double edged sword by being simple yet sophisticated. His art will be dissected and analyzed critically for years to come.
October 31, 2017
A perturbing cinematic scrap book of bleakly & uniquely scatological events that inevitably deform the viewer's sense of humanity; a true work of art. Most negative reviews of this appear to be written by viewers engrained in a 'three-act narrative' ideology of film.
October 7, 2017
A very strange movie but highly entertaining.
September 24, 2017
This is a highly underrated film. I feel like it's misunderstood. The film's purpose it to show us a glimpse in the lives of a group of people who never recovered from their tornado-stricken town. Despite sounding boring, I found this to be really entertaining as it gets mysterious the more I think about it. I also found the friendship between Tummler and Soloman to be interesting. I sometimes think that Tummler befriended him as an escape from his life.
September 16, 2017
3.9/5

I find Gummo's disperse narrative tough to value as a whole, but the writing, directing, and overall artistic value displayed in the film are brutally effective and deeply thoughtful.
May 31, 2017
A disturbed view of the real America with all of it's problems well compiled in a perfect mix of emotions, soundtrack and interlacing stories. Work of art and my personal favorite from Korine.
½ February 28, 2017
I don't get this movie; why it was made, what it says, what it accomplishes
February 24, 2017
Strange as hell, but... it's sort of... beautiful.
February 22, 2017
my all time favorite movie
½ February 10, 2017
At 88 minutes, it honestly feels thirty minutes too long. It's an overly dreary and winded way of telling us to feel repugnant by our fellow human beings. Its purpose is to make us as smug as the director.
May 17, 2016
33 percent of critics are wrong and 73 percent of the audience are idiots. What is wrong with the people who made this film and the people who didn't hate it with a passion? I will now think about how much I dislike this movie every day for the rest of my life.
½ May 15, 2016
"Look at it this way Snob, at least it's better than Gummo", said Brad Jones, a.k.a. The Cinema Snob, and now I know exactly what he meant by that. To watch Gummo is be treated to several storylines and multiple vignettes, none of which are engaging or even very interesting, jumbled together and not connecting in any way. Gummo is the kind of movie I imagine people with nothing better to do with their time will pour over and analyse, trying desperately to find symbolic meaning in a film almost epic in its nihilism. I can't imagine what the director was going for, but I have the sneaking suspicion that he has a deep hatred for cats, since what story there is involves several of them being killed and sold off by our charming protagonists. Literally the nicest thing I can think to say about the film is that it's only 89 minutes long. A complete and utter waste of time with no entertainment value whatsoever.
May 5, 2016
I've only seen two other Harmony Korine movies, one being Kids which I loved and the other being Trash Humpers which I'm not actually sure qualifies as a movie. I liked both of them, especially the underlying dark humor and general angst. They both feel very punk rock.

I had always heard this was one of the most messed up movies ever made, and I also saw it repeatedly compared to Breathless so it's actually pretty unacceptable that it took me this long to watch it.

The Godard comparison mostly comes from the semi-improvised way that the movie was shot (a lot of the movie is shot on hand held), and in the jumpiness of the editing. But when it comes to the way that ideas are being presented there's a pretty big difference. Harmony creates this very strange trashy poetry that the world within Gummo operates on. Characters tend to be very blunt, and ignorant of the morals of their actions. Its kind of an anti-Slingblade where poverty and mental illness are shown in the most disturbing ways possible, and there's no resolution in sight. The movie slips into almost exploitational snuff film levels of depravity, sometimes played for laughs (there's a pretty great scene where a very drunk Harmony Korine tries to flirt with a midget), but more often than not it's just there to make you feel sick.

It's great.
½ April 13, 2016
Literally the worst film I have ever seen. Even worse than Creatures from the Pink Lagoon and Jaws the Revenge. At least those bombs had a story. This is just the bottom of the American barrel with a video camera doing nothing. I can't imagine the amount of people who have this one + stars.
½ November 2, 2015
Mr. Korine's purpose is too cruel and shallow, his perspective too self-satisfied and childishly conceited, that his strange, eccentric directing debut seems like an unpleasant practical joke.
½ October 14, 2015
I'm finding it impossible to boil down the events in the film into a 10-point scale. It's difficult to discern whether this movie is actually "good", or not. That being said, the images of this community of cat-killing, glue-huffing, chain-smoking individuals have been singed into my retinas. Living out a life of middle-class luxury, you tend to forget that people this filthy do in fact roam the same earth you do. It's an odd film that I would recommend to people who need a little touch of perspective, or just want to see some fucked up people.
½ October 7, 2015
Gummo is ugly, unpleasant, rather chaotic and - for a lot of viewers - impossible to like. While all these things might be true, Harmony Korine's debut is also impossible to dismiss.

But this flick is not just a series of random unpleasant scenes, its chaos has a purpose: it creates a particular atmosphere, one that is difficult to shake loose. Many people might not like this film, as I said before, but not because it is astoundingly bad(yes, there will be those who will dismiss it because it does not meet their tastes, but this is next to irrelevant), but because the film is difficult to sit though.

However, if you think about "Gummo", you you take one step away from it, see it clearly, it resembles a lot with poetry and perhaps this is the best way to look at it.

Harmony Korine takes the viewer in places he does not want to be and offers characters he might not want to meet, but this incursion reaches some strange emotional notes by the time the credits roll.

Like "Pink Flamingos', "El Topo", "Eraserhead", a rating system does not apply in Gummo's case either(I gave a rating because RT doesn't let me post that otherwise).
July 27, 2015
Cat-killing kids and broken back-stories take centre stage in Harmony Korine's downbeat and dirty docu-drama.
More arbitrary than visionary, Gummo is a collage of controversial clips and muffled voiceovers; some of which are interesting, others of which are just jarring.
The film gives off a shaky sense of realism and follows some potentially interesting characters, but Korine's picture is essentially devoid of any real meaning beneath its revelry in the exploitation of impoverished and slightly odd-looking Americans.
Meandering, maddening and ultimately empty, it comes to something when a film's finest moment is a kid dropping a Crunchie bar in a dirty bathtub.
July 2, 2015
Very raw and real. You'll want to read about the production technique.
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