Paranoid Park

2007

Crime / Drama / Mystery

118
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 77%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 65%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 28,852

Synopsis


Downloaded times
October 12, 2020

Director

Cast

Gus Van Sant as Guy Reading Newspaper
Taylor Momsen as Jennifer
720p.BLU
775.29 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
85 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by debblyst 8 / 10 / 10

Tadzio-Raskolnikov in Portland

I'm not a Gus Van Sant fan, but I have to admit "Paranoid Park" got under my skin: it's a fascinating film. His adaptation of the novel by Blake Nelson (both GVS and Nelson are from Oregon and their oeuvre is centered around American Teenland) allows GVS to do a sort of small-scale contemporary American version of "Crime and Punishment". As in Dostoyevsky, GVS uses a gruesome killing (deliberate in Dostoyevsky, accidental here) as a motif to expose the nature and process of guilt, (self-) punishment, youth, conventions, repressed emotions, social and moral malaise in his society. Gus Van Aschenba... uh, I mean Gus Van Sant's fascination with teen boys is taken to the hilt in "Paranoid Park", as he follows his unfathomable Tadzio-Raskolnikov: the introspective, sexually ambiguous and emotionally muted skateboarder named Alex, played by Gabe Nevins, whose blank Botticelli face and blasé demeanor hide his character's soul-searching turmoil. The swooning, voyeuristic camera follows Alex so closely and so insistently that it seems it's trying to penetrate and discover, under those expressionless features and monotone voice, the complex feelings that Alex is struggling to understand and keep under control, especially after tragedy strikes when he kills a security guard in a terrible railway accident. The "thriller" plot is cleverly built, but of lesser importance; it's Alex's existential/moral crisis and GVS's concern with "America's misfit kids" that really matter in "Paranoid Park". The serpentine camera dances around the skateboarders in slow motion, à la Wong Kar-Wai, observing their beautiful air arabesques and their gravity-challenging leaps that seem to reach for cleaner oxygen, above ground-stuck conformity and ordinariness. The adrenaline-addicted skateboarders of Paranoid Park live in a sort of adolescent purgatory, where time also seems to loop; "growing-up" (which includes the possibility of going to war) is postponed, and it's no wonder we see some "over-aged" teens there, like the older guy who takes Alex to the ill-fated freight train ride. But "Paranoid Park" is more than a sympathetic portrait of a certain American youth (the kind that we don't often see in American movies). It's also a free-spirited aesthetic exploration, visually (contrasting film textures; focus/out-of-focus shots; marked impressionistic style; the trademark but still hypnotizing slow-motion shots of cameraman's Christopher Doyle); rhythmically (witty editing, and we can thank all our gods it's only 85 minutes long), and aurally (GVS uses a VERY eclectic soundtrack -- classical music, folk, rock, hip hop, French concrete music and a lot of Nino Rota -- like a teen zapping his iPod). I was especially puzzled at GVS's extensive use of Rota's score for Fellini's "Juliet of the Spirits". At first, sight and sound didn't seem to match at all; but then it's true that both Alex and Giulietta are closed-in, dissatisfied, emotionally repressed misfits trying to cope with their loneliness and malaise by learning to confront and accept their personal ghosts -- though, by the end of their journey, we may fear for their mental sanity. Another fascinating aspect of "Paranoid Park" is that GVS shows mature fair-play about his traumatic failure with the "Psycho" remake (also photographed by Doyle). Most obviously with two scenes that directly revisit "Psycho": the car-driving scene in rainy weather with non-stop music on the soundtrack -- a sign of the upcoming ominous events; and the magnificent shower scene, this time in extreme close- up and extreme slow-motion, with running water flowing through Alex's long hair forming a translucent, medusa-like image of mesmerizing beauty, electrified by a crescendo effect of (apparently) rattling waterdrop sounds mixed with loud bird chirps (remember bird sounds also inspired the legendary Bernard Herrmann's staccato shower murder theme in "Psycho", as Norman Bates was a bird taxidermist). There's even the same shot of Alex slowly gliding down against the wall in the shower, as Marion Crane in Hitchcock's classic. Both in "Psycho" and in "Paranoid Park", the shower scenes are a body/soul-cleansing ritual, the climax of each film and a turning point for the protagonists: for Marion Crane it's unexpected death (punishment); for Alex it's the decision to keep silent about his crime (self-punishment). As in "Psycho", there is the observation of guilt underneath "innocent" appearance (Alex, Marion Crane and Norman Bates look perfectly innocent), and repressed sexuality (both Alex and Norman are sexually numb though aware they're attractive to women). And as in "Psycho", there's the unfailing intuition of a detective, here played by Daniel Liu, who looks like an Asian Martin Balsam, and whose eyes are so different one from the other -- one is lidless, accusatory, fixed; the other is heavy-lidded, world-weary, understanding --that when he stares at Alex he seems to figure out both sides of the boy. The main weakness in the film is GVS's portrayal of females. It's obvious Alex couldn't care less about his hysterical cheer-leading girlfriend determined to get rid of her virginity, but did she have to be portrayed as an insufferable bore? And did Lauren McKinney, who plays the girl secretly in love with Alex, have to be so unflatteringly photographed? (compare her cruel close-ups with the slow-motion parade of gorgeous skateboarding ephebes at the school). And need I say Alex's mother (as in "Psycho") is only seen out of focus, far in the distance or from behind? (this time around we DO get to see the face and body of a father in a GVS film -- and, man, it's a scary vision). Even if "Paranoid Park" isn't your cup of tea, one has to admit GVS is a rarity among established contemporary American filmmakers: he has, through the years, been brave enough to stick to his thematic obsessions (young male beauty, the loneliness of non-conformism, the failure of the American dream and the traditional family, the complexity that lies under the apparent numbness and superficiality of American teens), and put them in films that -- while certainly not for all tastes -- get more fascinating as they get more personal and self-revelatory by refusing to be "big".

Reviewed by seawalker 9 / 10 / 10

Not for everybody

"Paranoid Park" is about what is going on in the head of a teenage boy after he has experienced a shattering trauma. He is dislocated and remote and 'not all there', or is he just in shock? It really is up to the audience to decide for themselves, because in an experimental movie like this one, no easy answers are forthcoming. In general I quite like Gus Van Sant's films, but be aware that you need to judge each of his films on their own merits. This is hardly the Gus Van Sant of Hollywoodian mild indie fare like "To Die For", "Psycho", "Good Will Hunting" or "Finding Forrester". Stylistically "Paranoid Park" is a close cousin to his later "Elephant". Low key, quiet, internalised, sometimes naturalistic, but often dreamy, and with a chronologically fractured time line. None of the actors seemed to be acting at all. Brilliant casting or brilliant acting? I am unsure. Not for everybody.

Reviewed by Chris_Docker 9 / 10 / 10

A movie to take you somewhere you're maybe not ready for

One of my biggest fears (or phobias) has always been getting caught for something I didn't do. Then there might be 'wrong time, wrong place.' Something not really bad suddenly snowballs. You use a swear word and your dad starts shouting and he crashes the car and there's a big pile up and it's all your fault. Or a kind word gets taken the wrong way and suddenly everyone in the bar is throwing punches. Basically good guys don't always go to heaven, that's my worry. Paranoid Park isn't a real park. Or rather it's a real skateboard park but the name is just made up by the kids there. It's the place where all the top skaters go. Alex is a good kid from the nice side of town. He skates a lot but doesn't know if he's really ready for Paranoid Park. That place is pretty intense. Alex borrows his mother's car but parks it on the opposite side of the river if he goes there. So it won't get damaged. A policeman at the school is asking questions. A security guard has been found dead near the rail tracks. Maybe murder. The tracks run close to Paranoid Park. Did anyone see anything? There are so many remarkable things about this unusual movie. Let's starts with the acting and characterisation. Here Director Gus Van Sant gives us characters that actors of many years' experience would be proud of. The kids in the movie don't have that - in fact most of them were recruited through MySpace. What we get though is a sense of their interior lives. All the kids - Alex, his girlfriend Jennifer, most of their friends, come from a world where being a teenager is the reality. That means your hobbies and interests are the day-to-day world, goals for the future figure somewhere, and adults are pretty peripheral. Adults exist and perform certain functions but are not that interesting. The adults in the film (like those in Rebel Without a Cause) are fairly one-dimensional. But unlike most teen-pics, the children here do not seem angry, overly rebellious, or addicted to sex and drugs and rock and roll. Nor are they stupid. They are convincingly normal teenagers, very real. They could be your children. The 'world' of skateboarding or rather Alex's mental narrative - is skilfully woven from the start. Not by boring the pants off us with long displays of skate board skill, but rather by associational editing, soundscapes and inventive use of cameras and formats. We see and feel how this hobby, through the skaters' eyes, produces a high akin to drugs or music. By making Alex's perspective so real for us, his sparse lines throw us back on what he is thinking. We are closer to him than the adults in his world. More like a sibling. More like someone who knows and believes you when you are so honest and frank, and also stands next to you when you have your fingers crossed behind your back . . . Our soundscapes are made up of gentle, electronic, ambient sounds. A dreamy woman's voice whispers something in French. Cinematography is by Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love). The sun through blades of grass near the shore and we skip between Super 8 and 35mm, hand-held cameras and stable frames. The ethereal and unreal becomes the bedrock of our world. Just as the basis of puberty is change. Adults can be sidelined in a way that just stops short of being contrived. When Alex is talking to his mother or father, they stay out of focus or out of frame for quite a long time into the conversation. When the mystery is revealed it happens with operatic intensity, yet our emotion is held back until Alex can deal with it in his own way. The way the film evokes a moist eye from probably everyone in the theatre and suddenly stops will upset those wanting a more conventional structure. But it will still manage to satisfy far more people than might otherwise venture into such an art-based film. As one of the characters says to Alex, "No-one's ever really ready for Paranoid Park."

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