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maryann johanson, not crying

Paranoid Park (review)

Gus Van Sant’s latest dreamy homoerotic ode to confused male adolescence is, well, a dreamy homoerotic ode to confused male adolescence, all pretty teenaged boys moping distractedly while mops of hair flop in their eyes, all gorgeously cranky cinematography more concerned with lending the film a feel of beat-up sneakers than with telling a story. There’s not enough story here, is my problem with Van Sant’s (Finding Forrester) adaptation of Blake Nelson’s novel about a Portland, Oregon, high-schooler who finds himself accidentally in the middle of criminal mess and no idea what to do about it — and the moodiness is of a type that doesn’t speak to me, perhaps since vaguely androgynous young men don’t inspire me as they clearly do the filmmaker. Adventurous teens may appreciate it, though, if they see something of themselves in inarticulate skateboarder Alex (newcomer Gabe Nevins; Van Sant discovered him on MySpace), who is, at least, a more realistic portrait of baffled male youth than we typically see at the movies. And of course all the ratty footage of the badass titular skateboard park — some of it shot in groovy, grainy Super 8 — is way cool, too, even if there is more of it than is strictly demanded by the dictates of atmospheric filmmaking.

MPAA: rated R for some disturbing images, language and sexual content

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