Ken Park (2002)
Ken Park focuses on several teenagers and their tormented home lives. Shawn seems to be the most conventional. Tate is brimming with psychotic rage; Claude is habitually harassed by his brutish father and coddled, rather uncomfortably, by his enormously pregnant mother. Peaches looks after her devoutly religious father, but yearns for freedom. They're all rather tight, or so they claim.
Being acquainted with Larry Clark's work, i went to see Ken Park. I was disappointed although the movie had all the hallmarks of Larry Clark's work: troubled teenagers, irresponsible adults and a lot of naked bodies.My issue with Ken Park is the focus on the dark side of humanity. Not that it doesn't exist in real life, but there is absolutely no light in the darkness of Ken park apart from indulging in sexual intercourse and masturbation. It left me with a feeling that the scenario was written by someone who hasn't left teenage angst behind him. In a way, this was true, since at least one version of the scenario has been written by Harmony Korine in his mid-twenties.I feel sorry for anyone who had to go through anything similar to the stories told in Ken Park. Yet, it seemed to me how the authors piled everything up only to make us feel bad about being alive...
I do admit, I had rooted for "Ken Park" prior to having seen it. Mainly because Larry Clarks nihilistic "Kids" is still one of my favourite movies. In "Kids" Clark (with more than a little help from Harmony Korine) caught the essence of a nihilistic, hedonist youth-culture, that was almost a little too close to home if you watched "Kids" for the first time and where in a similar age-range as the main-figures. Prior to viewing "Ken Park" I had very little knowledge of the story, but presumed that it would be in a similar vein as "Kids". I was not altogether wrong, but felt vaguely confused when I discovered the film in the adult-section of my local videostore.Now, do not get me wrong on this: I'm neither prude nor opposed to pornography. I've worked in adult-videostore in my young years and probably seen most this side of legality from this genre. Nor am I opposed to using elements of porn in mainstream movies, if those elements serve a point or further the main-story. However, at no point of "Ken Park" did I ever get the feeling it did any of that sort. I watched 'real' Porn and felt less of a voyeur than when I watched "Ken Park". I do not wish to accuse Clark of anything, but my impression was that of a "wily old goat" who transferred his own fantasies unto celluloid.If we take all the "infamous" sex-scenes out, we're really left with very little that Clark hasn't already shown us in "Kids". There are no real new insights or realisations. Sure, we all get the point: there are some messed up aspects in the society that "Ken Park" shows us, that will leave many of us (who are from a healthier environment) feel grateful not be have any part of. The viewer understands that the lives portrayed here are a mess, but there seems to be no real intent in exploring why that is. Nor does the film offer any solutions (perhaps because Clark thinks there is none?) That's not to say that "Ken Park" is technically a bad film. I'd give it 6/10 but as far as the exploration of angst-ridden, depressive lives of teenagers in Americana goes, "Kids" or Harmony Korines "Gummo" are by far the better films (and don't even have the need for explicit, seedy and un-simulated sex).
This is a light but non easy on the eye documentary styled film, delving into teenage life. There are some explicit sex scenes as the teens rebel and experiment, fighting back against restricting parents. This stands out and overshadows any valid message and makes it look poor compared to KIDS (1995) with this a follow-up film.Ken Park is a mini doco type film about several kids (class-mates) in California, beginning with a suicide in Ken Park. The grainy off-colour flick focuses in on teens with peculiar parents that are affecting them, and ventures on a journey of sex, power and lessons about young life. It is all a bit hazy, lacking a point and far superior to Kids, with less likable characters, being not as well shot or scripted and thus ends up more expressive as a documentary than film.
Explaining "Ken Park" in simple words: A story about several a group of Californian skateboarder's friends, their lives and relationships with and without their parents. Watching the film is not that simple, it's a awkward tour-de-force where you have three choices: walk out of the film after some of its controversial moments; watch the whole film and hate it because of its controversial content; or watch it with and like it despite everything you seen here. I don't know how many people heard things about it but I know that many people will not want to see it, or will find a boring and empty film with nothing more to say. But it has something there that compels us to watch it and like it.The story begins when a teen skater boy named Ken Park (Adam Chubbuck) happily killed himself in front of other skaters. Then the movie presents us Ken's friends, Shawn (James Bullard), Peaches (Tiffany Limos), Tate (James Ransone) and Claude (Stephen Jasso) and their complicated and obnoxious lives with their families, or in Shawn's case without them, only with his girlfriend and her mother, being a sexually active boy with both women. Many viewers and reviewers here complained about the story's point, the nudity, the sex, about everything before looking to themselves and to what they watch in the news and asking themselves: Real life is that strange as this film? Yes! That's what made of "Ken Park" one of the best films ever made and one of the most shocking too, because it seemed real, actors were not playing around, they were not only physically nude but they were portraying life as it is to some people, in this case a group of troubled people. And all that comes as a hypocrisy. Hypocrisy because people do strange things, get undressed, their intimate parts appears, they masturbate (perhaps not in that way), sometimes they show to each other, big deal, but there's always someone who'll get offended with that. But heads exploding, death executions, mass killings both in films and in real life doesn't seem to disturb the same viewers that gets easily impressed with films like this. Something must be very wrong with mankind and that's what Larry Clark and Ed Lachman present to us in this film, I don't know if that was the intention but it certainly succeed it. I guess I've seen so many strange and freaky things in movies that this film didn't bothered me that much, in fact, it let me hypnotized, I wanted to see what was going to happen next, everything was surprising, there's no moments of "I had it coming". But I know that a regular viewer who'll watch "Ken Park" will be disturbed, disgusted, shocked, paralyzed and another adjectives, and all I can say is this: if you want to see something new and you think nothing can disturb you then watch it. It's that kind of movie that you like it but you can't suggest to everyone. I must say that "Ken Park" doesn't make too much for a great director like Larry Clark considering his other controversial works such as "Kids" and "Bully" who were less disturbing but they had one thing more that this film didn't have: a social critic that urges changes in societies and in relationships without having that denounce appearance, pointing fingers to the audience; he just shows us the situation and the rest is up to the audience think for itself. His documentary style works here, you almost won't even notice that veteran actors like Amanda Plummer, Richard Riehle and Julio Oscar Mechoso are in the film along with unknown actors. A memorable film, a different and incredible experience, just when you think you know something you must see in a different perspective, and for that and more I loved "Ken Park". 10/10