Thursday, July 31, 2008

Paranoid Park - DVD Review

PARANOID PARK (**) - Starring Gabe Nevins, Taylor Momsen and Dan Liu.
Directed by Gus Van Sant.

Gerry was the nadir of Van Sant's self-indulgence, where Casey Affleck and Matt Damon got lost and walked and walked and walked. I thought Elephant was pretty good, where Van Sant took the trick of showing people walk and walk but made it add up to something.

This is better than Gerry, in that it's shorter and there's a little more story to it. A little. It's about a skateboarder, so we get more than our share of shots of skateboarders, slo-mo, going up and down, as natural as birds in flight. Pretty young men, skating and skating. Yesss.....

Whoa, fell asleep there. Anyway, his use of mostly non-professional actors lends a documentary feel to it. It also means we get a lot of shots of their blank-slate faces, where more depth is being intimated than actually surfaces. We eventually learn that one of them was responsible for the death of a security guard. Was it an accident or murder? We're pretty sure it was an accident (it's deep in the movie before we get the revealing flashback), but the police are approaching it as murder.

I've been a fan of many Van Sant movies, but I'd like to see him get out of this dialogue-free, slo-mo, people walking and walking phase. This could be called Elephant 2: The Skateboarders, a sequel I've never wanted to see.

Side note: Van Sant's next feature is Milk, starring Sean Penn as gay politician Harvey Milk, and it co-stars James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna and Eric Stoltz, and my bet is they do more than walk and walk.

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