Paranoid Park

First Hit: This is a very good Gus Van Sant directed film. I loved the fluidity in which it was filmed in both Super 8 and 35mm and how the character slowly and fluidly understands what happened one night.

Alex (played by Gabe Nevins) is a directionless teenager who admires the good skateboarders at Paranoid Park. He lacks confidence in his own ability to skate at the Park so he practices out of the sight of others. Paranoid Park, which is an illegal skate park, is used and was built by skaters and is under a freeway.

Alex goes there with his slightly older friend Jared (played by Jake Miller) to watch and learn how to skate better and because he feels at home there with the other skaters.

The film begins when Alex is called into the school office to talk to a detective who questions him about the death of a train yard Security Guard who was cut in-half by a passing train. We also discover that this man was hit on the head first by a skateboard which was fished out of the river.

His friend Macy (played by Laura McKinney) notices that he’s struggling and confused and suggests writing down what is bothering him, like a letter. By doing this, she explains, then sending it to someone else, burning it, or giving it to her will help him with his troubles.

During the film Alex writes pieces of the story which lead the viewer to better understand his interactions, intentions and experience with his girlfriend, some older guys at the skate park, Macy, and his dad. The film fluidly moves between the past, present and future. The ability to use Super 8mm film with little light and marry it with and 35mm film in most other scenes was inventively good and gave the film the feel as if you were with him at the skate park and on his terms. Additionally Van Sant did an excellent job of mixing slow motion, lighting, and long languid shots to create and expressive film.

Overall: Fluid was the word that stayed with me throughout my viewing. I really liked how this film held and embraced youth and in particularly this lost confused young man who is attempting to understand recent events.