Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012). Why do I do this to myself? I have never seen anything Harmony Korine was connected with that I liked. I wasn't a fan of Kids, hated Julien Donkey-Boy, and when Mister Lonely was requested, I watched it and found it better than the others, which was and is intended as faint praise. But Spring Breakers is #369 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century, so I climbed back into Korine's world. I found it better than Mister Lonely, which is still meant as faint praise. It's an oddball movie, and that is enough for some people. It's also pretentious, recalling better movies like Thelma and Louise or a Pam Grier movie from the 70s. Grier is the best example ... her blaxploitation movies certainly made sure to feature her colossal (and naked) body, but characters like Coffy and Foxy Brown had real power. The young women in Spring Breakers are supposedly offered up in the same vein, but the power just isn't there. Spring Breakers is filled with topless women, drugs, and violence, which might sound entertaining, but it's all pointless. Trust the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, who nominated Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine for the coveted "Actress Most in Need of a New Agent" award (they lost to Cameron Diaz in The Counselor).
Creed (Ryan Coogler, 2015). Ryan Coogler, on the other hand, can do no wrong. Creed is probably his "worst" picture, but it's miles better than anything Harmony Korine has coughed up. There's actually nothing wrong with Creed, although compared to Fruitvale Station and Black Panther it comes up a bit short. I'm not up to date on my Rocky movies ... I've only seen this one and the original, with some offhand knowledge of some of the plot threads of the other movies. But Creed clearly works as a continuation and extension of the Rocky brand, by finally putting old Rocky to the side and working in some new blood. Among other things, this gives Sylvester Stallone one of his best roles in years, ironic given that it's the same part he has already played so many times. (Stallone got an Oscar nomination ... for Best Supporting Actor, the key word being "supporting".) Michael B. Jordan is great, as he has always been since Wallace on The Wire. Jordan has now been in all three movies that Coogler directed, and they have established a rewarding pairing that compares well to legendary matchups like Scorsese and De Niro. I can't speak to how long-time Rocky fans reacted to this movie, but I can say that it works as a standalone. #551 on the They Shoot Pictures 21st century list. Trust me, it's better than Spring Breakers.