Paranoid Park

Paranoid Park is about a young skateboarder named Alex who accidently kills a security guard at the shady, seedy, and "underground" Paranoid Park. Our teenage hero scrambles up the slippery slope of a hidden sin while the police sniff closer and closer to the truth. With the weight of the world on his shoulders Alex travels the crowded yet lonely school halls like a ghost, quietly searching for something more, something solid, something to take the weight off his mistake.


The film is slow, disjointed, and artsy. Not that any of these things are bad it just seems to be a style that Gus Van Sant is stuck in (reminds me of Tony Scott's new found love for the extreme edits. Gus has moved into the exact cuts). The veteran director has been taking his films above and beyond the minds of a normal audience or mainstream thinker holding on his characters as they travel through a hall for no exaggeration...SEVEN MINUTES!! Now I'm a true advocate of a patient camera or slow edit. Just look at my reviews from the PAST. I'm just saying Gus offers us nothing but the shifty eyes of a young teenager silently looking out a window. We awkwardly stare for far far too long. I whispered over to Andy sitting next to me, "this script must have only been thirty pages long" for the fact that the total meat of the movie is long uncut seemingly pointless shots.


But my friends all is not lost. There are moments when the style works. There is a scene when Alex is in the shower after the murder. Amazing. The only problem is that because every moment was filmed with these LONG takes that when it really should matter our emotions were tired and over saturated from the technique.

My favorite scene of the movie involves Alex being questioned by a Police Detective. Truly a well crafted scene from a veteran filmmaker. He guides your emotions with the slow long move of a dolly. Great scene. 

New comer Gabe Nevins did a great job playing Alex. I loved the quiet hunched shoulders and silent eyes. He's a very subtle actor whose technique worked well for both his character and film.


This has been a hard movie to review. Technically speaking there is nothing WRONG with the film and nothing has been poorly created. The story, acting, and camera are all intact and work perfectly in the mind of the director/poet. It's just the style that spurs flaw. Paranoid Park demands your patience, attention, and open mind. In hindsight I understand and loved it BUT in theater I was actually pounding my head against the back of the chair. "Dear god Gus...please just make a cut...please".....(this occurred about ten minutes after the only other people in the theater got up and left...halfway through the movie)


I give the film 2.5 stars because of the impact it has in hindsight and that I truly think Van Sant captured the world of the characters and story. Be sure to bring your smart glasses and chai tea to this one.

Reviewed by: shea
5 Comment(s)
Andy said...
If you stare at the poster, you can enjoy half of the movie without ever going to the theater. I thought it was ok. I liked the slow motion, artsy shots and pace at times but I think it got in the way of the story. It's hard to explain. I liked the feel and atmosphere, but then I would find my mind wandering or thinking... why am I watching a 10 minute slow motion skate board montage? The one time I was jolted out of my trance was the train riding scene. I wasn't expecting to see that. It easily could have been an hour and maybe shown on Fuel.
Shea said...
I agree the pace got in the way of the story at times. The skate montages I actually loved it, was the 10 minute no cutting random up and down the ramp skate scenes that felt frustrating and confused.

The train riding scene was awesome.

Fuel? I dont know... I felt like the couple that left the theater halfway through were wanting a Fuel movie.
Andy said...
Like a very special after school Fuel.

The skate montages I am talking about were the ones that didnt seem to fit. I guess they were supposed to be a window into the community? I think it had more to do with Van Sant's latest fetish.
Adam said...
I thought the trailer for this looked pretty spectacular - I'm sorry to hear it didn't live up to standards. Mmm.. Chai Tea Frap with NO WHIP! delicious.
Shea said...
Yeah man... its a hard one. You should still see it if you get the chance...but just expect what we tell you to expect.... LOOOOONGGGG POINTLESSS SHOTSSSS...

right when the story gets some drive and push we are halted by artsy.