Paranoid Park

Watching “Paranoid Park” and knowing that it’s made by Gus Van Sant, the
same man who gave us fare like “Good Will Hunting” and the carbon copy
remake of “Psycho,” is a disconcerting experience. It doesn’t look at all
like either of those films. Instead, it feels more like the work of a
gifted, first-time director who’s all of 20 years old. Van Sant is clearly
tuned in to the sort of malaise that can affect certain types of teenagers
in this day and age, which is a remarkable feat for a man in his mid-50s. In
this case, he uses skater subculture as the backdrop for a darker story told
as a disjointed series of journal entries written by skaterboy Alex (Gabe
Nevins), who may or may not be responsible for the tragic death of a
security guard. The kid is hounded by a detective (Daniel Liu) for
information, by his girlfriend (Taylor Momsen, “Gossip Girl”) for sex, and
by life in general. The film is structured like a sort of murder mystery,
but when the murder is “solved” about halfway through, you realize that it
was just a dramatic red herring; as a result, “Paranoid Park” is about
something else entirely, and I have to admit I’m not exactly sure what that
something is. This is the sort of fare that could probably hold different
meanings for different viewers. It’s strange and unsettling and will likely
stick with you long after the credits roll – far more so than Van Sant’s take
on “Psycho,” anyway.

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