A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
A Retrospective of Larry Clark (KIDS, BULLY, THE SMELL OF US) Begins August 23 at Metrograph, with Clark in Person!
Opens August 23
Retrospective Includes Kids, Bully, and a Rare Screening of The Smell of Us
Clark To Appear In-Person!
Beginning Thursday August 23, Metrograph will present a retrospective of Larry Clark. Over fifty when his debut feature, Kids, was released to a clamor of controversy in 1995, the polarizing Clark has remained to this day an ageless enfant terrible, exemplifying the spirit of adolescent rebellion and, to cite the title of one of his infamous photography collections, teenage lust. Clark, an Oklahoma native, Vietnam vet, and survivor of methamphetamine addiction, documented the semi-rural demimonde he knew so well in his breakthrough photo book Tulsa, and brought the same veracity to the world of New York skate rats in Kids. In the films he would go on to make, the peril and passion of cruel, heedless youth has always played a crucial role, and in his latest, The Smell of Us, he has produced his most experimental, agitating work to date, a landmark movie by a talent who only grows more unquiet with age.
Special thanks to Mike Repsch and Dark Star Pictures.
Kids (1995/91 mins/35mm) Leo Fitzpatrick’s smooth-talking “Virgin surgeon” Telly cuts a potentially deadly swathe through unsuspecting adolescent girls in this snapshot of dirty, dangerous New York that practically reeks of adolescent b.o. and rampaging hormones. Clark’s debut brought semi-documentary scrutiny to bear on the blunt-rolling and mating rituals of the city’s downtown skaters as recorded by punk prodigy screenwriter Harmony Korine, while assembling one of the great ensemble casts of its day, with screen debuts by Chloë Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, Justin Pierce (RIP), Zoo York skater Harold Hunter (RIP), and Jon Abrahams.
Another Day in Paradise (1998/101 mins/35mm) Clark looked back to the 1970s—the days of his own wasted, wanton youth—in adapting Eddie Little’s novel of the same name for this gritty, grimy road movie period piece. Vincent Kartheiser, before he was Mad Men’s Pete Campbell, plays an oily small-time punk and addict who hooks up with veteran thief James Woods and girlfriend Melanie Griffith. Misunderstood and much-savaged on initial release, Another Day in Paradise holds up today as an unflinching, powerfully-performed character study, and an exemplary expression of Clark’s renegade spirit.
Bully (2001/108 mins/35mm) “Nature sucks!” Where most movies about youth culture lag behind the ever-changing looks and sounds of the times, Bully is a perfect, even prescient portrait of the turn-of-the-millennium Eminem Moment, of youth disaffection and moral rot in sunny, swampy suburban South Florida. Using the basic material of the True Crime tale of Bobby Kent, a rich kid and petty tyrant in his small social circle, Clark tells a blackly-funny tale of violent comeuppance, with Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Michael Pitt, and Kids’ Leo Fitzpatrick as wannabe gangsters putting together a remarkably clumsy murder conspiracy.
Ken Park (Clark and Ed Lachman/2003/93 mins/35mm) Often censored, excoriated, and banned, but too-rarely screened, Clark’s collaboration with the virtuoso cinematographer Ed Lachman, developed from an old script by Kids screenwriter Harmony Korine, surveys desire and despair among a group of thrill-starved Southern California teenagers and their even more fucked up parents and guardians, thrown into self-destructive trajectories following the death-by-autoerotic-asphyxiation of one of the regulars at the local skate park. A purgatorial vision, seen in the shimmering light of paradise.
Wassup Rockers(2005/111 mins/35mm) Clark’s first foray into digital filmmaking is an odyssey that passes through the variegated terrain of Los Angeles, following a crew of South Central Latino skateboarders from Guatemalan and Salvadoran families as they slash their way through the posh environs of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, goofing off, flirting with intrigued rich girls, and attracting the ire of cops and uptight lily-white homeowners. An unusually tender film for Clark in its portrayal of youth solidarity, and quietly political in its implications.
Marfa Girl (2012/105 mins/DCP) After years of difficulty getting new projects off the ground, Clark decided to strike out on his own, going through his own website to release this lyrical tale of forbidden love(s) in a Texas border town that continues the prodding at American racial insanity begun in Wassup Rockers. Half-Mexican Adam (Adam Mediano, leading a largely nonprofessional cast) fills the days in the arty backwater he calls home with skating, smoking, and sex—enough to make him Public Enemy #1 for the local border patrol agents with too much time to kill.
The Smell of Us (2014/92 mins/DCP) Inspired by the sight of teenaged skateboarders congregating outside the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Clark conceived of a film that speaks as distinctly to European youth culture in the age of the smartphone app as Kids did to mid-90s New York, observing the lives of French punks trading on their youthful sex appeal to finance nights of reckless partying. Intersecting with the fashion world in a distinctly Parisian manner, this is Clark’s most daringly fragmented, mosaic-like film, as well as his most provocatively self-indicting—the director plays a pungent part as a dirty old man toe-licker.