Harmony Korine, aging enfant terrible and self-proclaimed "most American" of American indies, finds his level and brings it home to Nashville with this gloriously desultory slap in the face of public taste. Korine has proposed the film as a VHS tape found in a ditch. Most simply described, this quasi-underground, midnight-friendly, faux-primitive "artifact" documents a trio of fake geriatric bohos, outfitted in thrift-store finery with faces frozen by transparent wrinkle masks, engaging in all manner of antisocial behavior—smashing TV sets, torturing dolls, pouring dish soap on a stack of pancakes, and, most frequently, lasciviously grinding their groins against back-alley garbage bins. A spectacle to be watched in a wino stupor, Trash Humpers is funny from the get-go; the joke expires after 20 minutes, around the time that three hookers, having already been rhythmically spanked, serenade the three devils with a toneless version of "Silent Night." The movie, however, continues for another hour. Sign of the times: Trash Humpers is all about free expression, but Korine's transgressions seem a lot less expansive and liberating than John Waters' or Jack Smith's did back during the invention of identity politics. Rather than self-actualizing, libidinal ecstasy, Trash Humpers projects a cranky resignation about the world as it is. It's ultimately less a celebration of impulse behavior than a celebration of the parodic impulse to record. (Note: Korine will attend Friday night's screenings.)
Just ask Korine what it all means.
Runs at Northwest Film Forum, Fri., June 18–Thurs., June 25. Not rated. 103 minutes.