A story of amour fou. Walt is madly in love/lust with a young illegal Mexican immigrant. However, the object of his unrequited affection doesn't even speak any English and finds Walt really... See full summary »
The teenager and skateboarder Alex is interviewed by Detective Richard Lu that is investigating the death of a security guard in the rail yards severed by a train who was apparently hit by a skate board. While dealing with the separation process of his parents and the sexual heat of his virgin girlfriend Jennifer, Alex writes his last experiences in Paranoid Park with his new acquaintances and how the guard was killed, trying to relieve his feeling of guilty from his conscience. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is another fine film by Gus Van Sant which sadly seems to have overlooked by most cinemas and cinema-goers where I live. I attended one of three screenings at an almost-deserted local art-house cinema in Southampton. For me, however, this short, low-key film left a deep-impression.
The non-narrative structure of the film means that the action on screen cuts back and forth in time around a central incident in which Alex, played by Gabe Nevins, causes the death of a security guard on a train track in Portland, Oregon, where the film is set. This shocking event is unveiled, appropriately enough, in the middle of the film. From very early it is more or less obvious what trouble Alex is in, so there is little sense of mystery about the film's events. However the non-narrative sequencing does allow for questions to float to the surface before explanations and elaborations begin to crop up later in the film, allowing the viewer to make connections and draw some conclusions for themselves. I quite enjoy this approach to story-telling although it does seem to be increasingly common (see Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Memento, et al).
The cast, apparently consisting of local teenagers with little background in acting, turn in some fine performances, especially Gabe Nevins in the central role of Alex. Scenes in the film are interspersed with camcorder footage of teenagers skateboarding around Oregon, which is a novel touch and in keeping with the feel of Van Sant's films, which are realistic but more dreamlike than gritty.
A special mention should go to the soundtrack in Paranoid Park, which is one of the strongest features of this film. The music ranges from rock (the Revolts) through folk (Elliott Smith) to classical (Beethoven) and musique concrete (Robert Normandeau). My favourite use of music in the film is in the opening shots of skateboarders in the skate park (from which the film's title is taken). Warm electronic tones and burblings envelope a continuous slow-motion camera shot of skateboarders as they rove around the the curves and angles of the park and the effect is really quite magical. (Having said that, I think there are one too many slow-motion shots later in this film which seem somewhat suspicious when the running time is less than 90 minutes...)
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