Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Paranoid Park

The latest Gus Van Sant movie is one of the best I have seen from him as I find it to be truly poetic with some breathtaking visuals and great non-linear storytelling that captivated me more than the story the movie tells. In my opinion this is a movie that you will highly enjoy more for Van Sant evolved experimental cinema style than anything else.

The story is an adaptation of Blake Nelson (Nelson’s calls himself as “writer of Young Adult novels) written by Van Sant and follows a 16-year-old skateboarder Alex, who has a life changing incident outside Paranoid Park, Portland’s most infamous skateboarding park. When Alex decides to say nothing, he takes on a crushing burden of guilt with huge ramifications. As a way to tell others about the incident and following a friend’s advice, Alex decides to write about the incident.

Non-actor Gabe Nevins, as well as the other kids in the movie were recruited through My Space and have to say that Van Sant was able to get a great performance from Nevis as he is a perfect blank faced teen that transmits some of the fear and even paranoia that the character is feeling without dramatics and somehow quite credible for a teenager confused and perhaps angered with bad family problems.

It is remarkable that Van Sant’s style eliminates so many potential dimensions of the story that the film is devoid of the elements audiences normally expect of films, beginning with drama, engagement and insight. On a moment-by-moment basis, one is most often objectively admiring the lovely work of cinematographer Christopher Doyle, whose 35mm shooting stands in marked contrast to the raw Super 8 skateboarding footage done by Rain Kathy Li.

Gus Van Sant won the 60th Anniversary Prize and the movie was in competition for the Golden Palm at the 2007 Cannes, also won the producers Award and was nominated for best director and best feature at the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards.

There are some interesting readings in Blake Nelson site about Artforum movie review and what Nelson’s thinks of Van Sant movie; perhaps some of you would like to check them here.

Obviously the film is not for all audiences and just read some non-art cinema lovers viewer’s comments to find that many find this movie “boring”. This is absolutely an art movie that I do recommend to those that like the experimental Van Sant’s style of some of his previous movies and to those that really like art cinema.


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