James Franco, Selena Gomez and their castmates are about to ruin a lot of future spring-break plans.
But watching Franco's performance in Spring Breakers, which had its U.S. premiere here Sunday, will be worth it. At least for those whose spring-break days are long gone.
Years ago, director Harmony Korine, writer of the iconic 1995 film Kids, had a dream about girls in bikinis robbing tourists during spring break. That vision gestated into a film (opening in Los Angeles and New York on Friday and nationwide March 22) that puts former Disney Channel star Gomez on a trajectory into an adult acting career.
"I am super-blessed to be a part of the channel," Gomez said on the red carpet before the screening. "But I am turning 21 this year, (and) there is nothing wrong with growing up. I'm super-stoked to be able to branch out and do different things."
This is different, all right. Faith (Gomez) and three friends want to go to spring break but haven't saved enough. So the other three go gangster and rob a diner with water guns.
Flush with cash, they head for St. Petersburg, Fla., for fun in the sun. Events quickly escalate to a Girls Gone Wild weekend, and the four are arrested.
Enter Alien (Franco), a rapping gangster, who spots the girls in jail and sees an opportunity. After bailing them out, he tells them, "I'm a (expletive) gangster with a heart of gold."
Some of the girls find their way home; others don't. And, in a beef with another local gangster, some of them get hurt.
Before the screening, director Korine acknowledged that critics may target the sex and violence, but he defended his right to make the film. "It is my kind of impressionistic reinterpretation of that world and all those things as they kind of coalesce and become something else," he says. "I would say there is merit in beauty and horror -- and vice versa -- and the film explores that."
Check out 'Bates Motel'
Carlton Cuse is crafting a slightly different twist on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and its lodging setting
But fans of the classic thriller and Cuse's own iconic creation, Lost, should certainly check in when the series Bates Motel premieres March 18 (A&E, 10 p.m. ET/PT).
Festival attendees got the first public viewing of the pilot for the series. In the first episode, we see Norman (Freddie Highmore) find his dying father, injured in an apparent accident at home. He and his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), then depart for a Pacific Northwest seaside town. She has purchased the rundown, foreclosed Seafarer Motel and plans to reopen it. "This is crazy, Mom," he says.
Reimagined in 2013, Bates Motel is "a modern-day tragedy," Cuse said after the screening. "If you take these iconic characters of Norman Bates and his mother ... you (ask) 'What were the factors that made Norman the guy that he becomes?'"
The answers that Cuse and co-producer/co-writer Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) concoct may surprise viewers. "If you asked somebody, based on Psycho, 'How did Norman Bates become Norman Bates?' (that person) would probably say, 'Well, he had a mother who berated him and eventually drove him into some form of psychoses,'" Cuse says.
Instead, Cuse and Ehrin have created their own take on the psychological horror tale. "How Norman becomes who he is gets answered in the first 10 episodes," Cuse says. "But the mythology of that is probably not what you think it is."
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