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With: Amanda Plummer, James Bullard, Maeve Quinlan, Stephen Jasso, Wade Andrew Williams, Tiffany Limos, Julio Oscar Mechoso, James Ransone, Patricia Place, Harrison Young, Adam Chubbuck
Written by: Harmony Korine, based on stories by Larry Clark
Directed by: Larry Clark, Edward Lachman
MPAA Rating: Not rated, but not recommended to viewers under 18
Running Time: 98
Date: 08/31/2002
IMDB

Ken Park (2002)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Kids' Return

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Ken Park on DVD.

The creators of Kids (1995), director Larry Clark and writer Harmony Korine, reunite for this equally disturbing but sadly less cohesive film. Because of its intense sexual nature, Ken Park never found a United States distributor, though it's available on two different import DVDs through xploitedcinema.com.

The story focuses on four teenagers and their various, disturbed relationships with their parents.

Shawn (James Bullard) provides oral sex for his girlfriend's mother. Tate (James Ransone) lives with his grandparents and arbitrarily strikes out at them and at his miserable three-legged dog. Peaches (Tiffany Limos) lives with her ultra-religious father and has learned how to be extra-kinky with her boyfriend despite his stern watch. And Claude (Stephen Jasso) constantly competes with his macho father while adoring his pregnant mother (Amanda Plummer).

All of these kids have uneasy relationships with the adult figures in their lives. They're looking for love but finding instead anger, confusion and frustration. During their search, Clark, Korine and co-director Edward Lachman manage some quietly touching, but dimly sinister scenes. Claude clips his mother's toenails and spots his father lifting weights. Peaches allows her father to show off a photo album to her new boyfriend, while Tate manages half a delightful game of Scrabble with his grandparents before blowing up at them.

Before long, however, Ken Park's tabloid instinct kicks in and we gets scenes of murder, incest and graphic sex that somewhat betray the more insightful, instinctive scenes. The film opens on the title character, Ken Park (Adam Chubbuck), who blows his head off in the opening scene for reasons that remain hidden until the film's end.

It became clear in the years following Kids that Korine and not Clark was the real talent to watch. His films Gummo and julien donkey-boy showed an extraordinary vision that was lacking in Clark's follow-up film Bully. The problem with Ken Park is that it's too much Clark and not enough Korine. Though Korine wrote the script and some of his touches are clearly evident, the stories and characters came from Clark.

But because the filmmakers cook up an equal number of touching sequences to match their disturbing ones, their portrait of disturbed America comes through clearly and effectively.

DVD Details: I checked out the Italian DVD (PAL, Region 2), which comes with both an English language version and an Italian-dubbed version. The English language version begins automatically with Italian subtitles, but the viewer can toggle them off with the "subtitle" button on the remote. There are no other extras. www.xploitedcinema.com sells the Italian version for $21.95 and also has a Russian disc (PAL, Region 0) available.

Note: Ken Park is banned in Australia and www.xploitedcinema.com will not ship this film there.

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