Paranoid Park

Gus Van Sant takes a bit of breather after his last three masterpieces (Gerry, Elephant and Last Days) with this smaller, quieter film. Newcomer Gabe Nevins stars as Alex, a 16-year-old suburban skateboarder who feels alienated from his family, his girlfriend and his fellow skaters. Only the weird, pimply girl down the street seems real to him, and as he floats away into some other realm, his head fills with airy music and memories of something terrible he may or may not have done. Most of the film is non-narrative—shots of skateboarders and train tracks and the throbbing feeling inside someone’s skull when they think that, maybe, they’ve committed murder. This film is not for everyone, but if you want to see how mood can exceed story, and how cinematography and music can become characters in a film, Paranoid Park is a case study.


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