Friday, November 28, 2008

Three Scenes I Love: Paranoid Park

Whitney and I just watched Gus Van Zant's Paranoid Park. I'm a fan of his other work, and am especially looking forward to Milk since I was living in San Francisco during the time of its filming. Elephant still impresses me while continuing to make me ask the question: does this guy know what he's doing or does he just guess and experiment while the cameras are rolling?

Paranoid Park was hyped to me by a friend and fellow film student back in San Francisco. He swore the film was amazing and tried his damnedest to get us to attend one of the many screenings taking place around town. Sadly, I never got the chance. Well, that's not true, I had many chances and took advantage of none of them. Stupid me. The film was amazing and I recommend it to all of you. It's on DVD now and in attempt to rectify my stupidity, I'm dedicating this week's Three Scenes I Love solely to Paranoid Park. Thanks for the hype, Taylor, I wish I had listened.

Scene One
Alex is in the shower and the water is falling off his hair. It's difficult to explain with words, and my aesthetics professor would have probably advised me to keep this one to myself in an attempt to somehow protect it's specialness. But I'm going to share it anyway because I like you guys. Don't let me down.

Scene Two
Alex inaudibly breaks up with his girlfriend. One of the most pleasing scores I've ever heard plays over the scene and the camera focuses solely on her facial reaction. She's talking but we don't hear her voice. "Oh my God" forms on her mouth and a dual-handed shove hits Alex in the chest. The deed is done. Damn, that feels satisfying.

Scene Three
Alex's little brother goes on and on describing different scenes from Napoleon Dynamite to him. It's hilarious. I would guess that Alex's brother is probably the most underrated character in this movie. Not only was the actor's performance good, Van Zant wrote a hell of a character. I'd bet Blake Nelson had a little something to do with it as well.

His parents are split up and getting a divorce. He can't keep his food down. With all that going on, he still tries to keep his spirits up and his family's too. Whitney has a theory that the kid didn't know the cameras were rolling and he just happened to deliver one of the funniest scenes I've seen this year. Maybe others won't find it as humorous as I did, but it killed me.

Here's a video clip with the second and third scenes in it. Fast forward to the 4:30 mark and hit play. The two scenes are right after one another. Enjoy the clip, but you should really see this movie. Taylor from my film program was right, Paranoid Park is incredible. Turns out, it actually did deserve the praise you gave it. Everyone, go watch this the next time you're in the mood for high-quality moviemakin'.


Ed Howard said...

Nice. I really loved this film as well, and the three scenes you highlight are among my favorites. My own review also tried to grapple with the hard-to-express nature of that shower scene, which is just impossibly gorgeous and mysterious.

The Napoleon Dynamite scene reminds me quite a bit of the equally hilarious scene in Van Sant's Gerry, in which Casey Affleck incoherently mumbles, at great length, about the experiences he had playing a Civilization-type video game. It has the same vibe, dropping these bizarre pop culture references into otherwise very serious films.

Daniel said...

Oh no! I HATED the first scene you list.

But I LOVED the third - so it evens out!