Moving Pictures
May 20, 2024, 06:29AM

Harmony’s Color Wheel

AGGRO DR1FT is Harmony Korine’s best film in 25 years.

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The Baltimore premiere of AGGRO DR1FT. All the stars were there: Alex Lei, James Flaim, Ben Bjork, others behind me I couldn’t see. I sat in the third row of Theater 5 at the Charles on Friday night, ready for whatever Harmony Korine had to offer and happy to see the movie in a theater for 11 bucks rather than a strip club in Atlanta or Queens. There were only two screenings of AGGRO DR1FT in Baltimore, both late nights, and what struck me during its brief 80 minutes were the number of walkouts. Half a dozen at least, maybe more—someone kicked the door on their way out! I don’t know what was going on, or what they were expecting, because besides being as short as can be and still remain a feature film, AGGRO DR1FT just moves, and I started thinking about that Saturday night screening…

So why all the hostility? People were brisk going out that door, I was sitting right by it… again, what were they expecting? Harmony Korine isn’t exactly an “unknown quantity”—everyone in that theater had seen something he had done, whether it was Gummo or Spring Breakers or Trash Humpers or The Beach Bum. But maybe some of them were unlucky friends brought by others who are surely writhing in angst right now, convinced this movie DID NOT get me laid…

AGGRO DR1FT begins in Miami, 1:33 aspect ratio, every image in infrared, and you probably know that if you’re reading this. Maybe you know too that Travis Scott co-stars as someone named Zion, one of the main assassins in this blown-out down-and-out dread march. You’ve seen the stills and the news about the screenings in strip clubs and comments from Korine at the Venice Film Festival last year when he declared that “cinema was dead” and that he saw it in his kids, who don’t give a fuck about movies, and it’s not just video games, it’s a million things. We know this. And so AGGRO DR1FT moves with this doom through this vividly-rendered world of deep blues, oranges, purples, whites. It’s not just infrared: there’re skulls, necklaces, occult symbols weaving in and out of view inside bodies, at the top of the sky.

Barebones plot: men on a mission to kill, assassins in the night, philosophizing on motor boats and humping samurai swords. Women twerk and protect their kids and their home, always out of harm’s way. I counted one kill in AGGRO DR1FT: the big bad guy, whoever he was. You really can’t distinguish who anyone is or where anything is once they get the masks on, but it doesn’t matter because the images and the sound are so powerful. The dubbed dialogue is full of apocalyptic phrases echoing Korine’s statements last year: “There are no more kings.” “All the money is gone.” AGGRO DR1FT is a beautiful movie, the purest film I’ve seen so far this decade. What was everyone in such a rush about? It’s not going to show again anytime soon… and I’m still not going to a strip club to a see a movie.

—Follow Nicky Otis Smith on Twitter: @nickyotissmith


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