Despite no particular plans in this direction, my film-watching project has encapsulated a lot of films set in New York - from 'Shaft' (1971) and 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' (1971) to 'Taxi Driver' (1976) and 'Party Monster' (2003), and 'The BQE' (2007) and 'Mary & Max' (2009), and six others besides. It's a very interesting set of movies, but taken together they present a vision of a formidably ghastly city, full of cars and violent woe, not somewhere you'd particularly want to live or visit.
'Kids' joins this tradition, but takes a new perspective, looking at the great teen nineties of baggy clothing and public urination. It's a rampantly heterosexual movie, opening with an abrasively long and noisy teenage snog, and going on to follow the sex and lives of a pubescent gang. Bored, horny children, raping and mumbling and laughing.
|"I have no legs," sings the man.|
It's thrillingly disorientating, shot largely in very close-up close-ups and highly saturated colours. A cast of untried actors overlap their dialogue, and compete with the sounds of traffic and loud music. It has a documentary feel, a spontaneity. It feels oddly like real life, rather than performed drama, and it makes other films feel staid and artificial. I'd expected 'Kids' to be bleak and hard to watch - it's a film full of HIV, romanceless underage sex and other widely-protested content, but it proved to be full of energy and vitality - a much more visceral and important piece than, for example, 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' (1953), the last film I'd looked at. It passed quickly, and it troubled me.