Published Mar 21, 2008Up the ramp, through the sky and inevitably down again, pulled back by the greater forces that were just defied momentarily, this is the repeated journey of the seasoned skater. In Paranoid Park, the community made skate park that plays home to a number of aimless boarders, and Gus Van Sants latest effort of the same name, the journey is dreamy. Between Christopher Doyles sinuous cinematography and the mangled music of Nino Rota, it is easy to feel as if you might be dreaming when watching, if only your eyes were closed.
It isnt long though before the hollow looks on the untrained actors faces, the pointless words that repeatedly fall out of everyones mouths and the "How I Spent my Summer Vacation narration wake you from your dream to see things as they really are. Paranoid Park is just another Van Sant art experiment gone painfully wrong. If only the indulgent director werent so blinded by his adoration for the young, maybe then he could see that he wasnt showing us his dreams but rather his fantasies.
Honestly, Im not sure who exactly is supposed to enjoy this account of one boys realisation that he is about to become a man. It is far too esoteric for the distracted generation it portrays and entirely uninteresting to the older art house crowd, given the subject matter.
Van Sant may be spitting on convention but he is also completely unaware of the viewer. And so it would seem that the director has successfully made a picture for an untapped audience men in their 50s desperate enough to sit through a painfully mundane hour-and-a-half of uselessness to enjoy a few shots of boys in their prime flying through the air with wooden boards gripped tightly in their virile hands. (Maximum)