Friday, March 7, 2008
After winning the Prix du 60ème Anniversaire Award last year at the Cannes Film Festival, and closing this year's San Francisco IndieFest couple weeks ago, director Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park" (USA 2008, 78 min.) will open in Bay area theaters on Friday, March 14.
The story is fairly simple. Set in Oregon, Portland, a shy teenage skater Alex (Gabe Nevins) copes with parents' divorce, girlfriend's pressure, and other typical issues in an adolescence's life. One evening, after visiting Paranoid Park, a popular hang out spot for skaters, Alex has to deal with a challenging dilemma, which shifts his focus and energy dramatically.
Most actors in the film, including the lead Gabe Nevins, are cast through MySpace, a popular yet obnoxious social networking Web site. There is not really much noteworthy acting per se. However, the careful composition in story telling, the affectionate music, and the rich visual impeccably calibrate the protagonist's emotional development. Seemingly routine daily activities begin to reflect the anxiety in Alex's frightened mind. He wishes that he were in a nightmare and he would be to snap out of it. Instead, he continues to be consumed by it, and we feel for him in this film.
Alex's preppy face, long hair, and innocent look reminds me of director's previous film "Elephent", which has characters with a similar look. Somehow, I feel Alex must have that long hair. At least it matches the long grass on the beach when he writes to get things out of his chest.
However, I feel the slow motion in the film is a little too excessive. People might get the wrong idea when a boy turns his head in a car to his buddy in slow motion like he is in a shampoo commercial. Then he blinked, which looks like a wink when in slow motion.
Even this is a beautiful film to watch, I wanted it to end in the theater, so Alex can finally snap out of his misery.