Paranoid Park (2008)

Paranoid Park

Dir. Gus Van Sant, 2008

One of Gus Van Sant’s smaller films, Paranoid Park is a textbook example of the Instant Period Piece, a work that so perfectly and meticulously captures the era in which it was made that its datedness becomes part of its enjoyability. The bad skater hair, the girls dressed as ring-tailed lemurs, the little brother reciting lines from Napoleon Dynamite– everything about the movie screams “2000s,” and the sooner you realize that, the more enjoyable the film becomes.

The plot is paper-thin, but still incredibly dark. Based on a novel by Blake Nelson, Paranoid Park tells the story of Alex (Gabe Nevins), a reticent teen skater who ventures alone to a dangerous underground skate park and is implicated in a gruesome murder.

There are parts of this film that echo the lower echelons of art cinema. A sex scene recalls a more restrained Larry Clark, while there are long, pointless silences and audio experiments that bring back traumatic memories of Gus Van Sant’s earlier film Gerry. But if you can get past those things, you’ll probably find something to enjoy about this movie. It’s not the best thing in the world, but I really liked what it ended up doing. B-