Larry Clark's Marfa Girl and Marfa Girl 2 return to Blu-ray. Clark is perhaps best known for 1995’s Kids, which was controversial but did well on the art-house circuit. Since then he’s done other films centering on young low-class characters with a penchant for sex and drugs. These two movies made during the 2010s are no exception. They're collected here on a single Blu-Ray from Dark Star Pictures with the only supplements being a trailer for each film and photo galleries. Worth A Look
Marfa is a small town in Texas and is depicted in these movies as a place where not much happens. The title otherwise-unnamed “Girl” is played by Drake Burnette but I wouldn’t really consider her the main character. More prominent is Adam (Adam Mediano), who begins the first movie on his 16th birthday. He lives with his somewhat eccentric but supportive mother (Mary Farley) and falls asleep at school, spending the rest of his time skateboarding, hanging out and doing drugs with friends and of course having sex with a few girls in town.
Knowing this is a Larry Clark film, this isn’t a surprise at all. Like most of his films, there isn’t always a clear direction as to where things are going but the characters are strong enough to hold your interest. Here the main thorn in everyone’s side is a border patrol agent named Tom (Jeremy St. James), who doesn’t have much better to do than make things tough for the younger people and sexually harass anyone of the female gender.
The second movie only runs about 75 minutes and serves mainly as an answer to "So then what happened?" at the end of the first. This finds the characters about a year later still in the same place and largely heading nowhere. Adam now has two kids with two different girls and isn't really able to support himself much less them, wanting only to skate and do drugs with his friends. He only gets a job doing construction work after his mother lines up an interview for him and then has to prod him into going. He's shacked up in a trailer with his main girlfriend from the first movie but they soon mutually agree that they're no longer in love with each other.Someone new soon enters the picture and may have a better life for her, with or without her child coming along. The title Marfa Girl also has a child as the result of an earlier rape, and sees little reason why she should take care of him. This one is certainly more of a "downer" than the first but ties up a few loose ends, and again the characters and performances while not top-quality are good enough to hold your interest.
I didn't find these films to be as exploitative as Kids nor as obviously intended to shock audiences; much of the sex is still a bit more explicit than you'd see in a mainstream movie but not pornographic. The locale of a small Texas town is a stark contrast to New York City, though in a way it makes the situations of the characters seem more hopeless as there's simply not much opportunity for them to succeed in anything without packing up and leaving.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-Ray
Marfa Girl & Marfa Girl 2 comes to Blu-Ray from Dark Star Pictures and OCN Distribution. A limited slipcover is included if ordered from Vinegar Syndrome (now OOP); my copy did not include one. The single disc is housed in a clear case with no printed insert but does include a still from the film on the reverse front cover.
Picture quality is kind of a mixed bag here. Both movies were shot digitally, and the quality of the earlier scenes in the first movie is video-like, looking a bit cheap and amatuerish. I'm not sure if the method of shooting changed for the scenes later on or if I simply got more used to it, but the last 3/4 of the movie do have a more film-like appearance and pass more for a "real" movie. There is a bit of banding and compression artifacts particularly in dark scenes which may be more from the source material than the Blu-Ray's encoding.
The second movie is another story. It's still shot digitally but could more easily pass for film, and displayed in a 2.35 aspect ratio. This is a much better viewing experience with no obvious compression artifacts or banding, showing impressive detail such as the rocky streets and dilapidated buildings in the town. (The star rating given is a combination of the two films.)
Audio for both movies is encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio. The first movie only has a 2-channel stereo mix which isn't too impressive but one should not expect much from a low-budget film. It serves the material well enough, with dialogue centered and some directional left and right sound effects as well as music, some of it played by characters jamming on instruments.
The second movie gets a 5.1 mix but sound is still kept up front most of the time with no noticeable use of the surround channels. Dialogue, music and sound effects are reasonably well-recorded. Both films feature instances of trains running through town.
Supplements are quite lacking in this release. There is a trailer for each movie, though both are the quality of ones seen on the internet and not of those made for theaters. Each also has a "photo gallery" which is mainly just still frames from the finished film accompanied by music. There are no photos of the production or the cast outside of the shooting. These are listed on the back cover simply as "Photo Gallery" and "Trailers".
Neither Marfa Girl film is exactly profound, but decently depict characters in a place with little chances to better themselves (perhaps those who have been to Marfa can comment whether this depiction is accurate or not.) The characters and situations are typical Larry Clark, which may be good or bad depending on your opinion of his prior work. I'm not sure if he has ever produced extras for his film (the DVD of Kids only included a trailer) but it would be interesting to see or hear his insights into why he has made the films that he has. Worth A Look
Order your copy of Larry Clark's Marfa Girl / Marfa Girl 2 on Blu-ray: