February 13, 2011

Ken Park (2002) / Inti Fest - 2011 (Asia)

Ken Park (2002) 
Directed by Larry Clark

"Ken Park" is firmly inserted in Larry Clark's narrative universe. From the uncouth reality of teenage boys and girls in "Kids" to the more visceral and shocking take on youngsters in "Bully", Clark has never let go of youth, whether as an immanent symbolism of life at its fullest or as the paradoxical demonstration that even life at its most intense peak can be removed at once.
"Ken Park" provides the viewer with a glimpse, only a brief instant, of a handful of characters that interact with each other and their parents. Relationships throughout the film follow very closely the actantial model established by literary critic Greimas. There's always an actant, someone who necessarily carries out an action so that a story, any given story, can actually progress. According to Greimas, characters are neither the embodiment of psychological concepts, nor extensions of the author's mind. Characters are simply entities that act, that carry out an action which makes possible the existence of a story. In his narrative model, an opponent is essential. No action can be performed completely without something that opposes to it.

Most of the opposition in "Ken Park" comes from the dichotomy produced between parents and children. When the teenage characters are alone they coexist in an ideal harmony, but when they face an adult problems ensue. Shawn, for example, transfers his Oedipus complex into another mother's womb, namely the mother of his girlfriend, thus engaging into an illusory Oedipal infraction while at the same time establishing himself as the bridge that will join mother and daughter in a symbolic incest. Peaches obeys what Lacan defined as inter-subjective desire, she reenacts the mother's presence by filling her void through a fantasy that nurtures her father, she is there to fill a void, to replace the dead mother symbolically while maintaining her other identity, that of the modest, sweet and virginal daughter; it's only when she fails in masquerading as an immaculate virgin that balance is disrupted and thus the father retains only the fantasy of the mother and wants, incestuous and literally, to marry her after beating her boyfriend to a pulp. Claude's situation is a bit more complicated: his father is a rampaging homophobic and after getting drunk as usual he steps into Claude's bed and attempts to take pleasure from his own son's body. Tate is an "acting out" case taken to the extreme, he seems incapable of expressing his sexuality through normal channels and he eventually snaps and savagely attacks his grandparents, id est, his parental figures.

The film clearly shows the failure of the preeminent heterosexual model in every instance. As Michele Foucault explains, the heterosexual drive was part of the industrialization movement in 19th century Europe, a healthy sexuality implied the capacity to procreate healthy children and nothing else mattered. The Victorian age specialized in forbidding and punishing masturbation or non-heterosexual practices; these were, after all, a blatant threat to progress. However, in the 21st century the heterosexual couple which has only procreation as a goal is no longer functional. If this kind of couple is only the "means to an end" then it's no surprise to see them falling apart. That, perhaps, explains Ken Park's decision at the beginning of the movie. Is life worth living? And what happens when his girlfriend, his true antagonist, forces him to accept responsibility and take on his newly gained parenthood? She asks him "Aren't you glad your mom didn't abort you?". His eyes express what words cannot say. And then, to renounce to his own life suddenly makes sense.
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Fuimos diez esta vez. Todos reunidos durante el fin de semana. Salimos el viernes en la tarde, rumbo a Asia, y regresaríamos a nuestra querida Lima el domingo. El viernes en la noche estuvo dedicado al Hypnotique y al whisky; mientras que el sábado todo giró en torno al pisco.

En Cocoa, nuestra playa, se organizaba la fiesta temática Moulin Rouge. Todos los veranos estas fiestas temáticas adquieren protagonismo, ha habido un poco de todo (hasta Titanic), pero en esta ocasión la fiesta fue eclipsada por un evento multitudinario que concita la asistencia de un público más joven: el inti fest (www.intifest.com.pe). El año pasado hubo 4500 chicos y chicas, este año, ¿quién sabe?

Aquí algunas fotos que tomé el fin de semana; y también, cómo no, las fotos que mi amiga María Fe tomó durante nuestro último almuerzo en enero. Ella me ha enseñado una muy grave lección: no es de mala educación tomarle fotos a la comida (siempre y cuando todo sea con fines artísticos). Animado por ese tipo de sabiduría, dejo espacio para las fotos. Como siempre, el almuerzo lo hice yo. Preparé una ensalada con aderezo ligeramente agridulce, y de plato de fondo ñoquis (que siempre hago a mano aunque quizá me ahorraría tiempo comprarlos ya hechos), con lomo en costra de hierbas (tomillo y romero, sobre todo); el postre fue cortesía de María Fe y su enamorado David. Maridaje: un malbec mendocino de 2008, no tan agresivo y de taninos moderados. Puntaje final: a mis invitados les encantó todo.

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