Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meandering piece of rubbish

Now I know that Gus Van Sant is an acclaimed director and all that, and I suppose I am missing something here - maybe this was a good little independent art-house kind of movie and I just missed the 'good' parts (snoozing no doubt) -but to be honest, I hated Paranoid Park!

I'm thinking that people who think they are deep, thoughtful, discerning film critics will rave about the "astuteness and intensity" of this "profoundly moving and thought-provoking" piece of rubbish. It won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, and to that I say... WTF?

Anyhow, in layman's terms, the story goes like this:

16 year old Alex (played by Gabe Nevins, to whom I say 'get a freakin' haircut!') lives in Portland, Oregon and is somewhat moody and depressed (aren't all teens?) because his parents (hot mom and tattoo-heavy dad) are getting divorced. He starts spending alot of time at a local skateboarding park frequented by all types of wayward and rebellious characters. (To me, it looked like a great place to score some drugs.) And he never actually skates there, he just sits and watches the others.

One evening, he goes off with a somewhat older stranger (despite what parents always tell kids - they really are not listening) to try jumping a nearby freight train. Why? Because it's fun, apparently.
So they do, in fact, jump a train and are riding along when a lone security guard spots them and attempts to apprehend them. In the scuffle, Alex smacks the guard on the head with his skateboard, causing him to tumble backward onto adjacent tracks and into the path of another oncoming train. Uh-oh!
Naturally, Alex's buddy quickly runs off.

Now, right here is the only horrific and worthwhile part of the film. The security guard doesn't die outright. He is literally cut in half and begins crawling on his arms towards Alex, intestines trailing behind him in orderly fashion, all the while pleading with his eyes for Alex to help him. Of course Alex is completely dumbstruck, and does the least responsible thing possible. He beats feet out of there, leaving the man alone to die. In a subsequent moment of bewilderment, Alex chucks the skateboard off the bridge over the skate-park and into the water below.

The whole of the film is based on this morality dilemma. It shifts back and forth in time, and reveals the effect that something so horrific can have on a person. It shows the detectives questioning all the skater-boys in the high school - prodding for answers because they know the death was caused by foul play, as they have recovered a skateboard with the guard's DNA on it (though how the DNA wasn't compromised after being in the water I don't know).

The curious detective also questions the boys individually, and I doubt Alex could have looked more guilty than at that moment. He had the whole 'shifting eyes and avoiding the questions' thing going on.

There are a few other aspects of teenage life thrown in to kill time- Alex's girlfriend wants to have sex, and when they do, she calls all her friends and brags about it, then Alex breaks up with her - ? (Sounds like role-reversal there). Also there are some scenes of Alex going about his daily life, which are EXCEEDINGLY boring! Alex on the sofa, thinking or writing in a journal. Alex in his room, thinking or writing in his journal. Alex on a bench down by the ocean, thinking or writing in his journal! Alex walking down the street (nearly always shot in slow motion), thinking. Alex walking down the halls of the school, thinking. Just pointless filler.
The movie's running time wasn't all that long anyway (something like 85 minutes), and if you took out all the walking and thinking, it would be 15 minutes long, if that.
It is my assumption that we, as viewers, are to be amazed at the filmmakers uncanny ability to capture the essence of teenage life and the guilt that has taken over Alex's every thought. Yeah, I got that, ok? First 10 minutes and I understood he was pretty fucked up over his enormous life error, ok? I GET IT!!

To add insult to misery, the music that plays during this movie is some of the worst hogwash I have ever heard. It is not a score. They used random, genre-jumping, irritating songs (?) which quite honestly made me want to jab a pencil in my eye - or should I say ear?

This film is based on a book by Blake Nelson, and while I think the source material has almost certainly got to be more interesting, the film lacked any cohesiveness for me. I absolutely couldn't wait for it to be over, and was flipping through a magazine to pass the time by the last half hour. The ending.... well, let's just say there really wasn't an ending. One of those "go either way" kind of finishes. That was just the final punch in the gut for me.

I like all genres of film. Meaning this: if it has a decent or at least tolerable plot, I'm generally gonna like it. I really don't diss much - I can count on one hand the amount of movies I could not find any redeeming qualities in. Well, I might have to start on the other hand as of today.
I have such a hard time believing the same director that fronted 'Good Will Hunting' and 'To Die For' filmed this shit-fest. But then again, he was the same man who thought a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho was a good idea! Ugh!

Maybe I'm wrong, but this movie was just meaningless and insignificant, and may have been a better story if it was on an episode of Law and Order!

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