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2.8 out of 5 stars21
2.8 out of 5 stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2010
Paranoid Park is right up with the best of Gus Van Sant's movies and is especially appreciable in Blu-Ray format. I love everything about it - including the grain of the small gauge film stock and the very carefully crafted surround soundscape, but especially the acting which is 100% convincing - and there's a good reason for that (watch the extra features).

It's a hard hitting story which I expect will be most relevant to youth, but there's a universal truth in that we naturally question if there's a limit to how responsible we need to be for our actions - especially if no good for anyone else can be done by confessing. Humans have a surprising capacity to rationalise and move on. A similar point is made in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors", but that's the only similarity between these two very fine films.

A must see for any fan of Gus Van Sant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2011
This is an effortlessly subtle and dreamy visual treat for those who enjoy movies like Lost In Translation and such.
It isn't as laid back of course, just seemingly. The plot is much more dramatic of course, but in execution it isn't.
An amazing achievement when you realize just how much the director has done right in front of your eyes with the main character at the end of the film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2015
Maybe Van Sant's masterpiece, a true work of art that is the other side of Elephant: a look at the nowhere land of American mid-town teens. As cold and enigmatic was Elephant, as intimate and introspective is Paranoid Park.
Not a coldblooded film, although the overall mood is dramatic and suspended, but with some more identification that the characters from the previous film.
A film that do not judge or justify, does not speculate or exploit youth unsettlement and uneasiness, does not rely on usual abuse of cliché (like the damned and extreme kids, as stupid and superficial directors like Larry Clarke and Harmony Korine do).
This time the coldness and bleakness of the earlier film is transformed in a maybe less alienating but more compelling and poetical audiovisual tale, with fantastic scenes where we almost feel the inner world of the main character, whereas in Elephant we almost witnessed the obsessive reiteration of a meaningless and pointless life that we could not understand. Here Van Sant adopts a surreal and gentle style, with melancholic music (even some tracks from Fellini's film) to tell us there is a whole world of dreams and feelings in those kids.
And by doing so, we'd like to reach out our arms and save them and understand them.
It is a personal and total creation of the director, who wrote, directed and edited the film. Because he did not want to explain his vision to anyone's: but just make it his own way.
Hypnotic, intense and deep.
And presented on a very good blu ray transfer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2011
... as some on here are claiming.

A simple story written and acted well. Top marks to Gus van Sant for using local teenagers instead of bratty child actors (think Jaden Smith)

A great Indie film - not perfect - but certainly an inspiration to anyone looking to make a low budget movie.
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on 28 September 2010
Whilst the premise seemed good, the final execution failed.

A young, socially inept boy, who seeks identity in the fantasized (perhaps overstated) world of skaters is forced to face his reality after causing the death of another. The central character (Jake Miller) is much like the movie, somewhat removed and dream-like. He seems as if he is merely part of his world, and his interactions are forced and at times staged. If left alone, and allowed to merely exist I suspect he would be a far happier individual, albeit a consequence of his dysfunctional family. If Gus Van Sant was attempting to portray such dysfunction and its consequence on a young mind, he may have partially succeeded, although I am of the opinion his final product is at times overstated and overstylised.

I was not convinced by the characters 'overwhelming guilt', instead I found him to be pathologically removed at times. His lies seemed calculated, as was his interactions with the police. For a displaced young man I found his intentional deception and lack of empathy, substantively revealing and beyond his youthful 'innocence'. Clearly he was either incapable of measuring truth or determined not to accept such. More accurately he finally chooses, and that choice ultimately lacks substance.

In the end the movie was a little grey and unsettled. Almost as if Gus Van Sant was more about setting the scene, as opposed to developing the character. The acting was a little naive, although Jake Miller was not bad. I suspect Van Sant wanted a natural, unrehearsed feel for the final product, which ironically had the effect of making those rehearsed scenes seem staged and unnatural.

Compared to 'Elephant', 'Mysterious Skin' and 'Brick' this film lacks what others have achieved so well.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2008
One of the most fantastic films I've seen in years; a kind of poem to disaffected and marginalised youth, unbelievably shot and scrored, a work of strange, dream-like beauty exploring the question, in a teenage world where no-one really connects on a meaningful level with anyone else, and from which parents are excluded, how do you expunge a guilty conscience ? Stunning.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2010
This is an excellent indie drama which follows the character of Alex, a 16 year old high school student who after a late night visit to a skate park, nicknamed locally as 'Paranoid Park', is involved in the accidental death of a security guard who chases him and an older skater for riding the railway cars in a train depot. After the other guy flees the scene Alex also leaves and says nothing about the incident to anyone.
The burden of Alex's guilt becomes even more unbearable when a detective investigating the guard's death begins interviewing local skateboarders believing a visitor of Paranoid Park could have been involved.
The film follows Alex over the course of a few days as he lives his day to day life, doing the things 16 year old kids do all the while hiding the fact he was involved in a man's death, the only outlet for the pressure a letter he writes detailing his experiences. It's a skilfully made film in which Gus Van Sant cleverly doesn't moralise on Alex's actions, instead simply taking as an almost voyeuristic look into the life of a generally good kid who makes a severely bad choice and does the wrong thing. The soundtrack is also real highlight with Van Sant's smart choice of avoiding a typical skater soundtrack and instead using jazzy orchestral scores from composer Nino Rota which shouldn't really work, but in reality cleverly compliments the dark, sombre and insular feel of the film.
If your a fan of character based indie films then this is a title which should be high on your wish list and if you enjoy this you should also check out the equally good 'Shotgun Stories' and 'Frozen River'.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2008
Three elements work together in this film to create a near masterpeice. I am not a fan of art films but this film succeeds where many others have failed. The casting in this film contributes greatly to the authenticity of the story. So many films about teenagers have them behaving like really really cool twenty somethings. An example would be Chumscrubber. But teenagers aren't really cool or twenty something. They're ackward and different than adults. The cast in this film are real kids who often adlib their own dialogue instead of reading lines written by baby boomers. In this film adults are abscured and the focus is on the young people and their unique experiences. The storytelling is patient and that is probably what bothers a lot of the reviewers. There are no contrived action sequences with pumped up music. This is the story of a teenage kid hiding a secret. There really isn't a need to speed up the action. The music that accompanies the drama fits the setting perfectly. Elliot Smith began his music career in Portland where the film is set. Elliot's lonely style didn't win the artist any friends but it fits the struggle of the lead in this film. This is a compelling and interesting film that uses a brilliant and authentic cast of kids and an appropriate and beautiful soundtrack to tell a unique story. Overall a really great film for anyone with an open mind and an eagerness to see less ordinary films.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2008
This film revolves around a horrific incident involving a young skateboarder called Alex and the subsequent effect this has on him, but there didn't seem to be much going on here in terms of engaging characterization, the kid is so disaffected with nothing interesting to say that I really didn't care what happened to him or much less want to watch a whole film involving this character, he didn't seem deep just detached, maybe that's part of the point.
Much of the films 84 min running time is filled with meandering languorous shots of kids skateboarding and lots of dreamy soundscapes which are all very pretty and I suppose a window into Alex's psyche but Van Sant should have spent more time making the story interesting. Having said that I wasn't a big fan of Van Sant's elephant either which is quite similar, so if you liked that you might want to give this a try
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2015
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