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Paranoid Park

Gus Van Sant



Paranoid Park
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant's experimental films about sad, pretty, wandering boys have officially hit a wall. The director's sad-boy streak started with the interminable Gerry (2002) and carried into 2003's Elephant (its final third makes the first 40 minutes of kids walking around worth it) and the occasionally thrilling Kurt Cobain homage Last Days (2005); his fourth swing is the skateboard jag Paranoid Park. It was cast using MySpace, with the expected varied results, though lead Gabe Nevins is a find and that gimmick is the only reason not to get enraged by Paranoid Park's sheer banality, since it doesn't take any reputable names down with it. Alex (Nevins) accidentally kills a security guard and tries to cover it up, sort of. His mumbly, bored teenspeak works well as a cover, but the fuzz is onto him. Not that there are any foot chases or beat-downs to be found---just a pointlessly graphic CGI-shot of the guard crawling toward us after the bottom half of his body\'s been sliced off by a train. By then, Paranoid Park has lulled you into such a state of shrug, the scene is a huge shock that rings cheaply and desperately. Van Sant's interest in teens doesn't come off as grossly as Larry Clark's does, but he's still too damn old for this shit.
---Tara Thorne

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