Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ken Park (Larry Clark and Ed Lachman, 2002)

Larry Clark is one of the most divisive filmmakers in the independent world, I think. I mean, just look at this post I made of stills from the film, and how much controversy erupts from a film most people HAVEN'T EVEN SEEN. Now that's a divisive filmmaker. And most people haven't actually seen Ken Park, as it's never been released theatrically or on DVD in the United States; in fact, it more or less disappeared after its appearance at the Toronto Film Festival (I think). I believe that in the immediate post 9/11 climate in the US (although this film has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism, I know that), controversial art was pushed to the side, and no distribution companies wanted to pick this one up. If you've seen This Film is Not Yet Rated, you understand why the industry would be so hostile toward a film this sexually explicit. And explicit it is - everything you might have heard about the movie is true, there's sex in almost every scene, and none of it simulated. As well as graphic sex, there's incest, murder, suicide, drugs, and just general teen ennui. Again, no wonder this hasn't gotten distribution.

But all the controversy around Ken Park, and around Clark and screenwriter Harmony Korine (who had a falling-out with Clark around this time) themselves, has shadowed the fact that this is actually a good, thought-provoking movie. Call it Kids for the new millenium; actually, it works pretty well as a sequel of sorts to the first Clark-Korine collaboration, looking at the same kinds of kids, only in a suburban environment, and ten years later. They're aware of things like AIDS and the dangers of partying too hard, but they don't really care. Or, if they do, they're hiding it well.

Onto the movie itself: there are some stellar performances, especially from James Ransone as the absolutely insane Tate. Tate isn't in the least likeable in the movie, but Ransone kept me from hating him. Also pretty good is Tiffany Limos as Peaches, although there's so much drama on her imdb page that I wonder what the big deal is. Apparently she was dating Clark at the time of the filming. Hm. I love the framing of the story of a group of friends who marginally know Ken Park, but we never (really, except in one scene) see the kids hanging out. The movie beginning with the end of Ken Park's life (a brilliant scene) and ending with right before the end of his life ("Aren't you glad your mother didn't abort you?" is one of my favorite final lines) was a great stylistic choice. The performances are solid, the direction of Clark and Ed Lachman is solid, and Korine's screenplay is solid. The result is less than perfect, but much more than some would have you believe.


RIYL: Kids, Gummo

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