Every once in a while a movie comes along that I appreciate and admire, but don’t “like.” They are provocative and disturbing. I’m glad I saw these, but for me, once was enough.
Kids (1995), written by then 19-year-old Harmony Korine (director of Spring Breakers), follows Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), a reckless teenager whose mission is to deflower virgins. When Jennie (Chloë Sevigny) finds out she’s HIV positive from an encounter with Telly, she searches for him through raves and the streets of New York City to prevent him from infecting another young girl. This portrayal of aimless, amoral teens – there’s hardly an adult to be seen – is bleak and depressing, yet remarkable for its realistic depiction of a world most of us have not seen, and extraordinary performances from first time actors Fitzpatrick, Sevigny and Rosario Dawson.
Happiness (1998) is an ensemble film that centers on the lives of three sisters who live in New Jersey – “a state of irony” – along with their parents, friends and neighbors. The film is designed to make audiences squirm as it addresses issues related to abusive behavior that involve adults and children. This film is not for everyone. The stellar cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jon Lovitz, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ben Gazzara, Louise Lasser and Camryn Manheim, and is directed by Todd Solondz (if this film sounds like too much to handle, try Welcome to the Dollhouse, about an awkward middle-school girl).
Requiem for a Dream (2000) is about how drugs consume and destroy the lives of four people: for Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connolly) and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) it’s cocaine and heroin; for Harry’s mother Marion (Ellen Burstyn, who was nominated for an Oscar for the role) it’s speed. Director Darren Aronofsky (most recently of Black Swan) follows the characters through a downward spiral of addiction to the darkest depths of desperation in an extraordinarily graphic montage during the film’s climax. Not for the faint of heart.