Mystery Fest: Kids

1995 bleak snapshot

Rating: 16/20

Plot: The titular little humans engage in the three D's: drinking, doping, and doing each other.

There are barely exceptions--for the most part, there aren't adults in this movie. There's a scene with Telly's mom, but she's just introduced so that Telly can misbehave in a different way. There are a pair of doctors or nurses, but the girls in those scenes and the disease at the center of it all overshadow them in importance. There's a taxi driver who seems completely out of place as he drops the closest thing to pearls of wisdom in this movie. There's a busker, a dude with an accordion belting out "Danny Boy" while a kid dances to a completely different song that only he can hear. And near the end, there's a trio of dope casualties--a nodding street person, a guy attacking a fence with a cane, and another guy who might be dancing. That's it. Oh, hold on. There's one more--the half-man on the skateboard on the subway who jingles a cup of change and chants "I have no legs" over and over again, a guy who seems like he's lifted straight from a Jodorowsky movie. How did I forget that guy? I don't believe he's really Polish, but "Kiss me--I'm Polish" shirts don't lie, do they? So that's it. I think. And maybe that's what the whole movie is about. Where are the adults?

This is a difficult movie for me to write about it, mostly because I don't like it at all. And I don't know for sure why it was made. In a way, it reminds me of those Robert Mapplethorpe photographs I accidentally looked at when I was in college. Not the orchids. The other ones. Kids has the same sort of thing going for it, this ability to be artistic in the ugliest of ways. It's honest, but it's honest in brutal ways that make it impossible for anybody to enjoy the movie. I don't think Kids is a movie that anybody can actually enjoy. Or maybe I don't think it's a movie that anybody should enjoy. The soundtrack's good, so I'd allow somebody to enjoy it for that. Lou Barlow oversaw that, and it's heavy on the Folk Implosion with some Daniel Johnston, Slint, and Beastie Boys thrown in. And John Coltrane. The acting's a bit of a mixed bag. There are a lot of non-actors, a bunch of writer Harmony Korine's friends apparently, only a few--Chloe Sevigny, whose performance ranges from fantastic to really really bad (What the hell, for example, is she trying to pull off in the elevator?); Rosario Dawson in her first role; and Leo Fitzpatrick as the closest thing this film has to a lead--who even get pictures on IMDB. Well, Harmony Korine gets a picture, and he does make an appearance with bad rhyming and glasses that make his eyes look huge. With Kids, you have Korine as a first-time writer, and if this is as written as I've read it is (it feels almost entirely improvised), then you have to give the then-19-year-old a ton of credit. Korine didn't write a horror film exactly, but the movie is horrifying, pushing buttons of middle age suburbanites like me. Korine writes from experience, and the scariest thing about the whole screenplay is that the dialogue might be authentic. You know you're dealing with talented writing when you hear lines like "Damn, girl, that's my triple nipple" or "Girly, girly, I want to buy you corndogs." Or my personal favorite--"I had a female vagina last night." At least I think I heard that one right. You also get a first-time director, Larry Clark who before this was a photographer with subjects or themes similar to the characters in this. I'd understand an argument that Clark's work as a photographer and with this movie are exploitative and maybe even obscene, but as I said, there's a truth to it all and Clark presents it all with an almost documentary realism. And then you've got a first time movie star in Leo Fitzpatrick as Telly who has one of the most annoying voices you will ever hear and maybe isn't a very good actor at all. Regardless, he makes one of the most terrifying villains you'll ever meet, especially if you have daughters. Pal Casper, played by the late Justin Pierce, is the better actor and weirdly almost seems like a character you'd like to root for if he was less violent and rapey or imbibed less or had some direction or didn't urinate on perfectly good walls. He gets the last words on everything that happens here, an interrogative four words that are a profound punctuation point on what we just saw. It's all a little too shocking, a little too in-the-face, a little too much. But you don't have to like all works of art, right?

The best scene might be where Telly and Casper hand a girl a stolen peach which she immediately discards.

1 comment:

cory said...

This is a really dark movie whose sole purpose is probably to scare parents to death. Even with the uneven acting, this still has a lot of power to disturb. A 15.