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Thursday, July 29, 2021

It’s been exactly 15 years since the release of controversial film Kids, which offered up this grit-core imagery of misspent Manhattan youth:

The plot seems inconsequential compared to some of the set pieces: the opening shots of the ‘Virgin Surgeon’ Telly deflowering an impossibly young looking girl; Caspar beating a man twice his age with his skateboard; Harold Hunter slapping his penis between his thighs in a public pool. It was crude, yet compelling — Kids felt authentic and thus gained importance because of its perceived authenticity. The lives these 13-to-17-year-olds lived seemed real. Janet Maslin of the then particularly dreary New York Times called it a “wake up call to the world”—this was then touted in the trailer.

“Seemed real” was key. Even though it was obviously a scripted movie, the mannerisms and body language of many of the young players were enough to lull you into thinking you were catching snippets of a demented documentary. The devouring of doomed children theme was, of course, provocative enough.

And maybe, toward the end of New York City socio-cultural nadir, that realism was too much to bear:

It seems that in many ways the city seems to have forgotten the film, just as many of those involved in the film also seem happy to forget it. Some might expect some sort of celebration of the 15th anniversary of the film, but few seem to be talking. ([Director] Larry Clark’s agent did not respond to inquiries.) [Writer] Harmony Korine has moved away from the realism of that film’s concept and execution, settling most recently on a bizarre faux-realism in his faux-documentary Trash Humpers. “It was not a movie I was dying to tell,” he has said of Kids. And our “Sassy” intern, Chloe Sevigny, has since said that she can’t bear to watch the film, and that she doesn’t like the movie much.

It was a landmark film, but I’m not sure what’s to be gained from a retrospective right now. It works well as a period piece, its shock value intact; in that way, it speaks for itself. The movie itself is teen-aged right now, and that’s enough. Maybe another 15 years of perspective is needed for a substantial look back.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/29/2010 11:35pm
Category: Movies, New Yorkin', Society
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