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Anybody else see Bully?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by DanaA, Feb 1, 2002.

  1. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Larry Clark's (Kids) new film (now on video) based on a true story of about an a**hole in Florida who constantly bullies and intimidates those around him. I don't want to give much away, but this is one of the most disturbing, unsettling films I've ever seen. Wondering if anyone else saw it and, if so, what their reactions were.
     
  2. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    For me, the only mildly interesting touch in the film is that the bully isn't any more dislikeable than the other characters. Otherwise, I thouroughly hated it. Clark is the biggest scalawag making movies today. Hiding behind claims of realism, doesn't excuse Clark from Bully's pointlessness. As with Kids, he has no thesis except to say that kids are a bunch of imbeciles. Thank you Mr. Clark! The saddest aspect of Bully, like Kids, is that its perverted conservative "keep your kids locked up and scantily clad" pap appeals to wannabe hipster teenagers--the exact demographic that 57-year-old Clark is exploiting. Political correctness accepts this trash as OK, but you couldn't have it the other way. If a 22 year-old director were to make a movie about how old people are all terrible drivers and walk too slowly through grocery stores, it'd be an outrage.

    Mark
     
  3. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Personally, I liked it.
     
  4. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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    I thought this was an excellent and powerful film, and I'm looking forward to Clark's next project ("Ken Park"). There was another thread about this film a while ago, and interesting comparisons were made between it and a Frontline documentary called The Lost Children of Rockdale County.
     
  5. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    "Hiding behind claims of realism, doesn't excuse Clark from Bully's pointlessness."

    The act of murder was pointless not the movie. None of these kids were peticularly smart and I dont know how much of this film is based on the facts, but the kids who did commited the murder in real life couldnt have been too smart either.My ex girlfriend used to call movies like these "studies on lowlives"(as she said after seeing Boys Dont Cry)- were those people any smarter than the ones shown in Bully?

    I didnt like Kids, but I think Bully is a step in the right direction. He may have gone a bit overboard in the nudity(not that Im complaining),But I think the message is pretty important considering some of the things that have happened in high schools in recent years.
     
  6. Mick Wright

    Mick Wright Second Unit

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    Powerful, brutal film. I saw it days ago, and I still can't shake it.
     
  7. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    But what is the point? What is Bully's thesis beyond "look at how dumb these kids are"?

    Mark
     
  8. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    I don't see anything wrong with a thesis that things go wrong when one behaves rashly without forethought as to unintended consequences or moral responsibility. Much of Shakespeare shares this same thematic content. What makes this film so disturbing is that there are so many people today that share this same aimlessness and moral vacuum. Of course, they're in a minority, but, whether in King Lear or In Cold Blood, cold violence and what leads up to it can be chilling.
     
  9. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    By the way Mark, I don't find anything wrong with you disliking this movie. I imagine a great many people would agree with you, but obviously others see things differently.
     
  10. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    Thanks for the response. But it's not immorality and its consequences as a subject matter that I'm bothered by, but rather Mr. Clark's insensitive handling of these issues. After Kids this is the second movie he's made about how immoral he thinks my generation is. And to what end? I brought up the point that a 22 year-old director couldn't get away with making a film about how old people are hazardous drivers, because pc culture protects the elderly. Young people are open for exploitation and abuse. And it seems apparent to me that in the latter scenes of the film Clark is mocking his subjects for their stupidity. The crime committed is undoubtedly disturbing, but Clark's continued debasement of this so-called "lost generation" is bothersome. If they had waited till they were older to commit that act, it's doubtful that a movie like this would ever get made. The moralistic issues of the crime are pushed aside for a sensationalistic preoccupation with the ages of the perpetrators.

    I wish I could believe that Clark had a loftier goal than to push shock-buttons and ogle naked teenagers, but nothing in his movies seems to indicate that. In any case, I'm glad you liked it, and found it powerful, disturbing. Enough people have been speaking highly of it, that it's to the point where I may even give it another shot to see what I'm missing.

    Mark
     
  11. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    I've not seen Bully, but Mark's assessment of Kids is more or less in sync with mine. I got that the behaviour of the characters was "disturbing," but I didn't get that Clark had anything remotely profound, original, or even interesting to say about it. It was an NC-17 after-school special to my eyes, and just about as insightful.
     
  12. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I just saw it and thought it was excellent.

    I don't see this as an attack on how worthless kids are today, but rather an exploration into the world of TROUBLED KIDS. When you hear about kids murdering another kid, in a conspiracy, the inclination would be to ask "how do KIDS get into that situation?".

    Clark shows us. I thought the acting was excellent, dead-on for type of people I have met or known. I also found the pacing and scripting to be very solid with tension maintained throughout the film with the feeling that every situation with these kids was walking the fine line of going totally out of control until it finally does. That felt very realistic to me. People that get into this kind of trouble don't usually flip from one extreme to the other one day, but rather have been driving that direction for some time and probably have already dodged f**king their lives up before that point.

    I also liked that the parents just don't see it, nor should they based on the portrayal. The kids keep their conversations away from their parents so all they see is problems/fun that THEY assume is going on. They can never imagine what lies behind the laughing or crying of their kids. This is key because if they could they might be able to help, and that is so often the real truth of parental breakdown - not a lack of concern but rather a lack of understanding of the situation.

    I see no more attack on kids in general here than I saw 30-somethings being attack by Pulp Fiction, or even something milder like Anniversary Party. That's not an age assult, but rather an exploration of a sub-culture that is based in a certain age but not representative of the entire age group.

    They did rely on murder as a solution (dumb) and they did fall apart and get busted (dumb), so of course the characters in the film are shown as dumb. In fact the Bully is the smartest kid, and the meanest by far I thought.

    However there is some irony that in the end they are just as cruel as him.

    I think a lot of teens out there would see the first half and really identify with it. I only hope they stay for the second half. Sadly I'm sure the group being targeted won't see the warning signs from this film and yet another generation of criminals will continue onward. Heck, I bet some dipshits out there are thinking of immitating the film as we speak. The very fact that Columbine happened (or the murder this film is based on) tells us that this subculture is real. I think the very alien nature of that culture makes it a fascinating subject for mainstream America to see, both teens and adults who don't relate to this lifestyle directly.
     
  13. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    I might as well post my thoughts on this film in this thread:
    Larry Clark’s Bully: Realism Or Exploitation?
    Once in a while we get a film that polarizes audiences because of the subject matter and how it is handled. In 2000, one such film was Chuck and Buck. This time around its Bully.
    Watching the first hour of this film, it was very unclear where it was heading. I can certainly see the charges of exploitation hurled at director Larry Clark as he lets his camera linger in certain places long after the audience has gotten the point of what he was trying to say.
    For example, there’s this long shot of teenage kids dancing on stage with just their underwear on in a gay strip club. Then there’s the headache inducing 360-degree shot of a bunch of characters arguing with each other, which seemed to have gone on forever. Then, of course, there’s the much talked about sex scenes with a lot of shots of naked bodies of teenagers including frontal nudity, not to mention the frank sex talk that went along with it. (The film is unrated and would have probably gotten an NC-17 rating had it gone in front of the ratings board.)
    The last hour of the film, which includes the planning of the murder, the killing itself and its consequences are some of the most riveting scenes I have ever seen in a film. In addition, the performance of the entire cast in this last hour was just amazing.
    Still, after the credits started rolling, I just sat there wondering, what was the point of all of this? Is this supposed to be some Scared Straight for parents who don’t pay attention to their kids or directly aimed to at-risk kids themselves? Was this supposed to be a wake-up call for a certain group of people about to kill someone? If so, who?
    Boys Don’t Cry, which was another fact based film about hatred, achieved more by showing less and, in my judgment, is a more powerful film for doing so.
    The film is definitely flawed because of the certain choices the director made with his camera. As I type this, I still don’t know what to make of the film. One thing is for sure though, I can’t think of anyone that I would want to recommend this film to. It is not easily forgettable yet, it can be easily disposable. Good acting will not be enough for me to recommend this film at all.
    ~Edwin
     
  14. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    Larry Clark has a severe case of G.O.D.S. [Good Old Day Syndrome].

    I'm sure in his day kids never got into any sort of trouble, and were much, much smarter, of course.

    I'm 30, and while I do agree that kids grow up faster these days this same argument "today's kids are evil" has been going on probably since the beginning of time.

    It also pisses me off to read Doonesbury every day, and see how every Gen Xer is an aloof moron.

    Bully is a shock-value film. Nothing more.

    Pretty hot sex scenes, though.
     
  15. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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  16. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Yeah, I don't see his work saying "this is how kids are today". I see it as an exploration of the fringe world as Ted points out.

    The guy has an interest in what this "on the edge of disaster" mid-to-late teens world is about. It is showing us how bad things come from kids when for most of "normal" America these real stories seem outrageous for the average kid. These things really happen and he shows us what types of people do them.

    Is it really any different that Boyz in the Hood, which clearly was depicting the "normal" black lifestyle, but rather a special case of it.

    Criticizing Clark in this way is the same as seeing Boyz and saying Singleton is telling us that all black teens are in gangs and will be killed. That generalization makes no sense to extrapolate from the art being presented, as neither filmmaker makes an attempt to even depict all possible environments or character types.
     
  17. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    Kids is called Kids. Boyz N the Hood isn't called Blacks.
     
  18. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    At least Boys in the Hood had a few characters with some good qualities. In Kids and Bully, every single character is a complete and total f*ck-up, with absolutely no morals, intelligence, or redeeming character whatsoever.
    And in the end, the message that is drilled into your head for 90 minutes is "today's kids are evil, society is doomed".
     
  19. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Your right Mark.

    Boyz in the Hood DOES REPRESENT ALL "boyz" in the "hood" right? So are all "boyz" poor black gangsters I take it. Or are they only poor when they live in the hood?

    And it's NOT CALLED "Kids of TODAY" is it? The film is about some kids. I guess you are demanding the name be changed to "Some Kids" instead?

    Also, Mahattan, where Woody Allen shows that all NYers go to Fellini films, etc.

    And Beautiful Girls apparently sums up the entire world of all girls considered beautiful as well. They all fit a character in that film.

    Even if Clark showed kids in a totally positive light, that would still be wrong by your definition because it would then be leaving out the troubled kids stories. So no film can be called Kids unless it covers every possible type of kid?

    I just think that implication is reading way too much into the title.
     
  20. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    Seth, I only bring up the titles to show the difference in the level of taste between Singleton and Clark. Clearly, it can't be expected for a title to clearly represent a movie. But why does Clark choose to use such a generalized, blanket-statement title like Kids at all? It seems to me that it's for shock effect, and is representative of the general abscence of maturity and taste in his work.

    Mark
     

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