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
During the scene where Alex pushes the guard who gets slashed by the trains' wheels, the guard falls backwards, so he's suppose to be lying on his back, but on the shot where Alex is standing next to him, the guard seems to be as he fell forward, and lies on his stomach. See more »
I Can Help
Written and Performed by Billy Swan
(c) 1974 TEMI COMBINE CORP
All Rights Controlled by Combine Music Corp. and administered by EMI Blackwood Music, Inc.
Courtesy of Epic Records
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment See more »
When I saw Gus Van Sant's Palme d'Or winning film, Elephant, I was left contemplating the experience of it all. It was truly a unique film, mainly because it painted the school shooting story in an impressionistic light. The fact that we weren't provided with loads of character development unusually assisted the picture in its goal of being a "whatever you want it to be" kind of film. You were allowed to try and justify the actions of the characters, and try to pick out subtle symbolism throughout the film.
Now, here is Paranoid Park, a film not miles behind Elephant in its tone, plot, and message. We are met with Alex (Gabe Nevins), a sixteen year old skateboarder, with a plethora of heavy baggage. He frequents a skatepark nicknamed "Paranoid Park," because of the rumor that there are bodies buried directly under all the ramps, rails, and jumps. One night, Alex and his friend are jumping aboard a freight train to hang along for the ride, when a security guard races to try and get them off by swatting at the boys with his flashlight. Alex impulsively hits him with his skateboard, causing the security to fumble backwards on another set of railroad tracks, directly in the path of an oncoming train, before he is split in half in a gruesome yet well-executed sequence.
Alex makes an attempt to destroy the evidence, but can't destroy his melancholic expression he wears so often or his continuous reclusive actions in a tumultuous environment. Fear, regret, and denial encapsulates him so much so that his relationship with the attractive and offbeat, Jennifer (Taylor Momsen) is threatened. Alex states that she is a virgin, with means she'll be looking for sex soon enough. Alex is also continuously questioned by a local detective, who is rounding up all the skateboarders at his high school to try and see who was at the park the night of the murder and who may have some much-needed information.
Keep in mind, I gave you the abridged version of the plot. Much of the film is disjointed and non-linear, meaning we'll see sequences that happen from one night, skip to the present or another night, and then eventually return to that first night. At first, it's a little hard to figure out the coherency or the setup, but it manages to work out in the film's favor towards the second and third acts. The biggest problem with the film is its impressionistic roots. It seems Gus Van Sant desperately wanted to make this fit in with Elephant, but the result is hokey. In Elephant, it was a brave picture mainly because we weren't provided with cliché lectures between the principal, parents, or teachers and the shooters, nor did we have any justification or even a catharsis for the tragic events. They happened and, like with most shootings, we are left to our own wits and our vague understanding to formulate an opinion. Being that we're toying with a film that sort of relies on character empathy and some substantial development, the slowburn, impressionistic style isn't always the best route for a film like this.
But it manages to recoup and hold itself up for most of the picture. One minor detail that shouldn't go unnoticed is the unique and impressive Super 8-filmed skateboarding sequences featuring Alex and his friends. They are well nuanced and fit in nicely to the film as a whole. Another element, taken again from Elephant, are the long tracking shots where elegant music is played and dialog is not heard. The shots are sort of used without purpose here, where in Elephant, they depicted cold monotony and repetition in the life of the schoolkids. They, still, are rather nice and eerily calming to watch here.
While the impressionism is a tad hokey and the execution sort of flounders in parts, Paranoid Park is a strong drama, showing us, yet again, that teenagers, this time skateboarders who are sometimes unfairly ostracized as punks and societal degenerates, aren't prone to pressure, anxiety, turmoil, and neglect. Sant writes and directs the film with surefire confidence, again establishing that he doesn't care what you learn or take from it, he just wants you to learn or take something.
Starring: Gabe Nevins, Taylor Momsen, Jake Miller, Daniel Liu, Lauren McKinney, and Scott Patrick Green. Directed by: Gus Van Sant.
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