Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Ken Park"

Larry Clark and Edward Lachman's infamous Ken Park may never see a US release. In fact these days it would be lucky to be screened anywhere at all.

Currently banned in its home country of Australia, Ken Park tells the story of four teenagers, their miserable home lives, and the sexual exploits they undertake to escape it all.

Despite rumors that it has never screened commercially in the United States because of its explicit sexual content, the real reason has to do with a music rights debacle that has never been solved. The explicit sexuality, which may be an issue in some countries, isn't so much a problem here, as Ken Park is nowhere near as graphic as John Cameron Mitchell's far superior Shortbus, which played on American screens two years ago (and was on my 2006 top ten list).

I've seen the film, and I was not impressed. At all. Quite honestly, the film doesn't deserve a release. It's aimless, disjointed, unpleasant, and lacks anything resembling emotional resonance. Some individual elements work, but in the end it just has no reason to be. And when it randomly throws its separate characters together for one final (imagined? metaphorical? utopian?) threesome (who had not been seen together up until then) the film jumps the tracks completely.

I wanted to like it, I really did. But it just doesn't work. It's really nothing more than a story of trailer trash kids and their stupid parents. Scratch that, there's not really a story, just ennui and angst and lots of fucking. Dads suck off their sons, kids sleep with their girlfriend's mom, and masturbate while hanging themselves from a doorknob before killing their grandparents in their sleep. And for what reason, shock value? Because most of the events in the film are given no real reason for happening.

It has enough elements that work that it's not a complete waste, but the dots are never connected. The elements that could have clicked never are never given any cohesion.

The controversy that constantly surrounds this film is really overblown. It's just a bad film famous for its dick shots and real life oral sex and masturbation. Which wouldn't be a problem if it had a point, but it really doesn't. It's a sad waste of potential, and famous more for its shock value than its substance. Sometimes controversy of this kind swirls up around the movies that least deserve the attention. In this case, Ken Park is a great example.

3 comments:

WaywardJam said...

Provocative poster but glad to know I don't need to put it in my mental rolodex for future viewing.

Shortbus! I'm glad someone else besides my wife and I saw this.

nick plowman said...

"Dads suck off their sons, kids sleep with their girlfriend's mom, and masturbate while hanging themselves from a doorknob before killing their grandparents in their sleep."

WTF??????????!!!!!

Okay, so I do not want to see this film, it just sounds gross. I am just as open minded as the next person, but hell no do I want to be subjected to that, no thanks.

Curiousityloko said...

I got to see Shortbus with Paul Dawson (the guy who played James.) It was a great film, my number five of 2006, but it was very ummm strange to watch a movie with him sitting two seats down. Afterward we went to the after party and he talked with my friend about his most famous scene from the start of the film. Cool night though.

Though I agree with Nick about this film, sounds pretty damn gross.