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October 14, 2007

Paranoid Park, 2007

paranoid_park.gifThere is a palpable sentiment of trying to capture the ephemeral that runs through Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, a film that further modulates his now familiar aesthetic of melding abstract episodes of hypnotic time drift with the alienated portrait of imploding, angry youth that have characterized his more recent films (beginning with his Béla Tarr epiphany film, Gerry). Based on the young adult novel by Portland author, Blake Nelson, the film follows a cherubic, teenaged skater, Alex's (Gabe Nevins) process of writing a diaristic letter to an unknown recipient (later revealed to be a classmate and casual acquaintance named Macy (Lauren Mc Kinney)) at an overgrown lookout near a desolate sound. Unfolding in often repeating, time altered flashbacks that recount Alex's suppressed, traumatic experience - and moments of pure bliss - surrounding his consuming, but reluctant obsession to visit Paranoid Park (an abandoned industrial site that was transformed into an advanced skate park by homeless, thrill-seeking kids), that are juxtaposed against images of his upended personal life as his separated parents (Grace Carter and John "Smay" Williamson) attempt to reassure him of their undying love and support despite their impending divorce, and his flighty, cheerleader girlfriend, Jennifer (Taylor Momsen) continues to pressure him to have sex, the film is an airy and swooning, if delicate and friable tone piece that strives to give form to an adolescent's subconscious awareness of passage, moral consequence, and impermanence that comes with the process of maturation. In a sense, his parents' vain promise that everything will be the same as before becomes a sobering reinforcement of his own realization of its consequential impossibility after a reckless, life-altering experience. It is within this consciousness of irretrievable time that the impressionistic, swooning slow motion images of skaters riding the concrete waves of Paranoid Park become an intrinsic reflection of Alex's own impressionable psyche - a naïve representation of his own desperate, unarticulated desire to manipulate time and return to an enchanted place of blissful innocence and fanciful imagination.

Posted by acquarello on Oct 14, 2007 | | Filed under 2007, New York Film Festival


Really looking forward to this film by Gus Van Sant. In my humble opinion he is one of a handful of the truly gifted amerikan auteurs. Anyone know the release date. Oh; the anticipation..

Posted by: robert on Oct 25, 2007 5:30 AM | Permalink

IFC is distributing the film, and according to their site, it opens on March 7.

Posted by: acquarello on Oct 25, 2007 8:47 AM | Permalink

I'm really looking forward to checking it out next Spring. I always look forward to his work and this story looks especially compelling. Thanks for the post.

Posted by: Ed on Oct 28, 2007 12:04 PM | Permalink

Acquarello, I caught an advance screening of Paranoid Park here in San Francisco with Van Sant in attendance to field questions. Chris Doyle's cinematography is, as ever, exquisite in this film. But it is by far the film's sound design that most enthralled me. The usage of Nino Rota's Juliet of the Spirits soundtrack was such an unlikely pairing with Van Sant's desultory poetics that it actually worked as a barometer of Alex's subjectivity. What did you think of the usage of Nino Rota?

Posted by: Maya on Dec 17, 2007 11:42 AM | Permalink

Hi Maya, you're right about the incongruence of the Rota music, but I agree with you about its effect. There's a "casualness" about it that also speaks to Alex's almost cavalier attitude about the whole thing, and at the same time, the Fellini reference also hints at the way the subconscious continues to reinsert itself into both his reality and his "fantasy" of Paranoid Park. It becomes a leitmotif for his escapism and interiorization.

Posted by: acquarello on Dec 17, 2007 6:18 PM | Permalink

Oh gosh, I wish I talked like you!! Every time I read your articulations, I feel like I should be locked up in Stammerer and Stutterer Prison!

Posted by: Maya on Dec 21, 2007 2:15 PM | Permalink

Heheh! Thanks, Maya...although I suspect that has more do with the fact that you're juggling way more film-related activities in your head at any one time than I do. ;)

Posted by: acquarello on Dec 22, 2007 11:48 PM | Permalink

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