Paranoid Park (2007)
Two words: Severed Corpse. No, not the GWAR song, but what is ostensibly the crux of Gus Van Sant's pre-Milk effort, Paranoid Park. What Van Sant is really interested in here, though, are not the gory details (and they are surprisingly VERY gory) of the death, around which everything in the film revolves, but once again, the faces, backs and showering bodies of high school teens. Not as creepy as it sounds. In PP, he mines the same territory and style he explored in the superb Elephant and underrated Last Days, though Van Tarr gets a bit lost in this one. I don't know if it's the script, or the oft-horrendous non-actors' acting, but the film feels a bit flimsy. As usual the cinematography is soul-crushingly gorgeous, and there are some beautiful instances of soundtrack and film meshing synchronicitously (probably not a word). But overall, fans of the director will probably feel cheated by the threadbare plot and what feels like two movies in one: the first half's experimental-film feel cut with grainy super-8 slo-mo footage of skaters riding "Paranoid Park" (actually Portland's Burnside, and what are seemingly outtakes from Fruit of the Vine, Northwest, and Tent City); and the second half, which focuses more on the murder mystery, the implications of which are sadly hard to care about. If he had have picked one side and ran with it, there could have been an excellent film in there; as it stands, Van Sant has made a mildly interesting, but frustratingly flawed one.