Paranoid Park

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Postby Sabin » Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:01 pm

'Paranoid Park' got leaked online and I watched it on youtube again. Clearly a different moviegoing experience than in theaters but curiosity got the better of me. I think it's too fundamentally arbitrary to be a truly great film. It's still the most evocative mood piece of Van Sant's career, ripe with smart inclusions and omissions, and one of the best acted films of the year.

If Van Sant positions the songs as the unconscious soundtrack of Alex's brain like evocative chaos magic, it's a flawed one. Nino Rota, yes. Elliot Smith, no. This kid does not like Elliot Smith.
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Postby Sabin » Sat Mar 15, 2008 3:23 pm

This is Van Sant's strongest film since Drugstore Cowboy, which itself is something of a rarity in Van Sant's ouevre. It was just as work for hire to my understanding as Good Will Hunting. I love that film but in the almost two decades since its release, Van Sant's career has gone through remarkable shifts. Although I dig the absurdist comedy in Gerry, I can't say I'm much of a fan of his Death Trilogy. I love the language he's cultivated but not the message which is far too necrophiliac for my tastes.

Enter Paranoid Park which is as beautifully stylized as any film he's ever done but this time his affectlessly-performed characters are just that. Characters. With inner-lives and struggles. This is a beautifully acted film and just a flat-out beautiful film that further defines Van Sant's evolution as a filmmaker.
To wit, the gay-baiting 'Guess Who's a Homo?' 360 in Elephant. All that accomplished and more in one trash-rock accompanying slow motion CU of Alex's clearly-homosexual best friend gazing at him en rapt, looking away, and then back. This will clearly be a problem down the road but right now his character is in denial, talking incessantly about getting laid.

The murder itself is the most accidental of things, and the aftermath incredibly poetic. You can't really blame this kid. The film exists around and inside his head. Van Sant does a brilliant thing in his elliptical screenplay. As Alex first writes what happens, we see the actions in slow motion with normal-sped dialogue over it, and then in returning to it later it feels like a memory even though the 'memory' is correctly paced. Reality in Paranoid Park is stylized and subjective. The use of slow motion and the way that Doyle's camera perches over Alex's shoulder as he talks to someone. In one instance, we hear only the faintest of verbal snippets of his girlfriend post-break up as Nino Rota all-but drowns out her melodramatic moment. It's a funny scene and a mocking one. This music comments not on the melodrama of the scene but on the distracted ocean of air inside Alex's head that he soars while uninterested.

The only sore notes are an over- or under- on Elliot Smith, whose sensibility comments too directly on the transpirings; also, skater vids are a vainglorious evil in our society and while thematically linked, they are still a bit much. Otherwise, Paranoid Park is now the Van Sant-iest movie that Gus Van Sant has done, and I think in many ways his strongest film to date.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby danfrank » Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:20 am

Paranoid Park is a thing of beauty. If it's playing in your area, go!

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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:47 am

I reviewed the trailer for Love Songs and it looks quite interesting.
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Postby Precious Doll » Tue Mar 04, 2008 3:04 am

Paranoid Park is also opening up in my part of the world, though on Thursday. It's one that I'm indifferent to seeing as I hated Last Days & Jerry but loved Elephant. I hope to see it by Easter.

I was very disappointed with the latest Rivette. It looks great but was so staid and lacked engagement.

I will be going to a French Film Festival that starts later this week. I am mainly going to films starring some of my favorite French actors - Catherine Deneuve, Sandrine Bonnaire, Bulle Ogier, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Catherine Frot, Cecile de France, Fabrice Luchini, Francois Cluzet as well as Sergi Lopez in films that will probably all turn up on television. Much better to see them on the big screen where they belong.

I'm not going Love Songs, The Secret of the Grain, Flight of the Red Balloon, The Dinner Guest among others as they are all opening during March/April anyway.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Postby Damien » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:03 pm

I can't wait, Nik. But it doesn't open in New York til this Friday. The other current release here that I'm so stoked for is the new Jacques Rivette, The Duchess of Langeais. And also such upcoming movies as Christophe Honoré's Love Songs and the new Ken Loach, It's A free World.

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Postby Nik » Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:00 pm

Anyone else excited about the new Gus Van Sant film? I loved Gerry and Elephant, and admired much of Last Days, so I'm really stoked about this one. I wish I was back in New York again so I could just go out and see it NOW. Has anyone already seen it?

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