The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The intersection of Bizzell Street and College Avenue on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024.
Farmers fight Hurricane Beryl
Aggies across South Texas left reeling in wake of unexpectedly dangerous storm
J. M. Wise, News Reporter • July 20, 2024
Duke forward Cooper Flagg during a visit at a Duke game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Flagg is one fo the top recruits in Dukes 2025 class. (Photo courtesy of Morgan Chu/The Chronicle)
From high school competition to the best in the world
Roman Arteaga, Sports Writer • July 24, 2024

Coming out of high school, Cooper Flagg has been deemed a surefire future NBA talent and has been compared to superstars such as Paul George...

Bob Rogers, holding a special edition of The Battalion.
Lyle Lovett, other past students remember Bob Rogers
Shalina Sabih July 15, 2024

In his various positions, Professor Emeritus Bob Rogers laid down the stepping stones that student journalists at Texas A&M walk today, carving...

The referees and starting lineups of the Brazilian and Mexican national teams walk onto Kyle Field before the MexTour match on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Opinion: Bring the USWNT to Kyle Field
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • July 24, 2024

As I wandered somewhere in between the Brazilian carnival dancers and luchador masks that surrounded Kyle Field in the hours before the June...

‘The Beach Bum’ is a perfect hangout movie

Photo by Creative Commons

“The Beach Bum” has an all-star cast including Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Buffett and Zac Efron.

Harmony Korine has represented the boundary-pushing spirit of American independent cinema since the 90s, famous for his distinctive, trailblazing depiction of the lost voices of the United States. His latest work, “The Beach Bum,” provides a sharp critique of American culture’s obsession with searching for meaning in an arbitrary world, while providing a lifeline to creativity within American cinema.
“The Beach Bum” follows the aimless misadventures of Moondog, who could be played by none other than Matthew McConaughey, as he indiscriminately lives his flamboyant, independent lifestyle.
Thematically, the film contrasts well with the depiction of self-indulgence in pursuit of rebellion seen in “Spring Breakers,” but Korine purposely strips his narrative of even the slightest aspect of structure so audiences reflect the disaffected relationship of Moondog and his environment.
Korine’s undercurrent of anarchy to cinema standards has always influenced his work, yet “The Beach Bum” provides a new layer of creativity to his filmography.
In the 90s, Korine was the only American director to follow the Danish film movement, Dogme 95, founded by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. Von Trier and Vinterberg’s movement provided guidelines for art films with the intent to take creative power from film studios and give creative freedom back to the director. Korine embraced this doctrine, and “The Beach Bum” is a modern interpretation of the Dogme 95 movement.
Korine’s lack of narrative structure or character arch serves as more than a simple deviation from usual American cinema. It allows Korine’s cultural dissection to be on full display, and his constant cinematic subversions continue to keep the audience engaged throughout the runtime. Without Korine’s decision to eschew structure, his themes and McConaughey’s performance would not have the desired impact.
Korine’s directorial influence is overtly obvious throughout the runtime, but he rests the success of the narrative on the immense acting talent of McConaughey. Between crushed tallboy cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and burrito-sized joints, McConaughey’s immense screen presence allows Moondog to embody the American spirit of reckless abandon.
Korine populates Moondog’s life with a stellar supporting cast, which seemingly enters and exits the narrative just like the tide on the shore of the Florida keys. McConaughey embodies Moondog, and the line between actor and role is more than just blurred.
Korine’s screenplay displays his sharp, fundamental understanding of classical American storytelling, yet this knowledge is used to undermine each aspect of Hollywood style. However, while the characters in his films seem to spit in the face of their environment simply for the enjoyment of rebellion, Korine’s punk approach to cinema is anything but solely self-indulgent.
Moondog’s recklessness directly reflects Korine’s recklessness, which reflects that of the audience. Much like McConaughey’s embodiment of Moondog, Korine’s art exists on the murky border of cultural depiction or criticism and his own version of American neorealism.
Cole Fowler is an English junior and columnist for The Battalion.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *