Friday, May 30, 2008
Paranoid Park 2007
Gus van Sant
The film is a story about a high school skateboarder Alex (Gabe Nevins, Gus van Sant found the actor through myspace)in Portland, Oregon who one day decides with his friend Jared to visit the tougher Paranoid Park (O'Bryant Square). There one night something happens to Alex and the film is an uncovering of what that was. The film was based off of Blake Nelson novel of the same name and the adaptation was done by Gus van Sant. Blake Nelson has said the book is like Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment in a young adult setting. The chronology of the film is shuffled with the present day Alex moving on with his life as we are discovering what happened to him that night at Paranoid Park through his letter he is writting to Macy.
Alex becomes larger then life and the center of everything that is going on. The cinematographer for this film was Christopher Doyle (Wong Kar Wai cinematographer) and he combined shots filmed in 35 mm, Super 8 and videotape. His focus was on Alex while everything else seemed to be blured in a soft focus, there were also full body shots that makes alex feel almost trapped within the frame similar to his experience was trapped within unable to communicate it with anyone. The film was full of long takes with no dialogue witch let Leslie Shatz layered sound design shine through mixing together Nino Rota, Beethoven, Elliot Smith, obscure whispering and a pop ballad. The music was everything but clithe and created an angelic melody to the skateboarding scenes, the most frightening ticking when Alex is wondering what he should do, and is defiant of cliches when there is the romantic pop ballad playing over the breakup of Alex and Jennifer.
The film is also about adolescent alienation, where after the traumatic event, the pure youthful Alex starts to have doubts about the things that matter to him in life and that all he can think of is the guilt he has boiling inside of him as well as a good aliby to where he was that night. At the start of the film there is an interogation between Alex and Detective Lu and only later on do you find out the legitimacy of the claims. That scene and part of the story have elements that can be traced back to Truffauts The 400 Blows. But that is where the similarity stops this film is Gus van Sant return to a smaller budget, adoslecent conciousness, high school life and brings a new freshness of youth in cinema.