Paranoid Park

Not rated yet!
Director
Gus Van Sant
Runtime
1 h 25 min
Release Date
21 May 2007
Genres
Mystery, Crime, Drama, Experimental, Underground
Overview
The teenager and skateboarder Alex is interviewed by Detective Richard Lu that is investigating the death of a security guard in the rail yards severed by a train who was apparently hit by a skate board. While dealing with the separation process of his parents and the sexual heat of his virgin girlfriend Jennifer, Alex writes his last experiences in Paranoid Park with his new acquaintances and how the guard was killed, trying to relieve his feeling of guilty from his conscience.
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VJ Morton4
Right Wing Film Geek



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  • TIFF Capsules — Day 6

    TIFF Capsules — Day 6

    (Saving the OPERATION FILMMAKER doc to pair with MY KID COULD PAINT THAT … essay coming after the fest).


    MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, Noah Baumbach, USA — 8
    I complained about the “does-he-or-doesn’t-he” ending of IN MEMORY OF ME that it didn’t matter which way the film-makers turned it. In MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, whether Nicole Kidman’s Margot gets on a bus at the end of the film is every bit as arbitrary as whether Christo Jivkov leaves the seminary. But unlike Costanzo, Baumbach has made a film about that very fact, which makes the ending perfect even if it doesn’t make sense (and I agree that as a matter of strict logic, it doesn’t; but this whole movie is not about strict logic). The characters on MARGOT — primarily about Kidman visiting sister Jennifer Jason Leigh on the week of her planned marriage to Jack Black — are typical Baumbach characters. The film thus stands or falls — or rather stands marvelously — on the writing and delivery. These people are a certain type of upper-class New Yorker, schooled in the arts of passive-aggressive one-upmanship. They are deeply self-absorbed, but with a bad conscience about their wealth and social status (they are liberals, after all) which leads to hyper-defensiveness on every manner of subject. And they fit Baumbach’s writing style, as the stretch for the bon-mot that might lead to an inadvertantly humorous/damning juxtaposition, is what matters to them. The speech about the Puerto Rican plumber, with its gaggle of subordinate clauses, qualifying, clarifying, qualifying the clarification and clarifying those qualifications — it’s some kind of masterpiece of hyper-articulate writing. But ultimately, their unselfconscious privilege leaves them as clueless as Cher Horowitz (or … ahem … Emma Wodehouse). And here’s a premature Skandies Plug for Best Scene: Kidman’s Book Q-and-A, with her ex-husband, natch. Compared to Baumbach’s Year-End Top-5’er THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, this follow-up feels a bit less urgent, cuts less deeply and is more of a divertissement (though there have to be some autobiographicalish elements; there’s a crushed-by-family male character who would have been born around 1968). It just goes on until it ends, but the fact that I wouldn’t have cared if it had gone on in the same vein for 30 minutes more says what’s near-great about MARGOT. The fact I would have felt the same way had it ended 30 minutes earlier is what limits it to near-greatness. MARGOT is just an excuse to spend time in the Baumbach universe. But that’s a very nice place to visit.

    PARANOID PARK, Gus Van Sant, USA — 3
    I utterly detested Van Sant’s ELEPHANT as complicit with mass murder and forcing the audience into the same complicity, to no good end beyond that achievement. This movie — about “the skatebard community” — isn’t quite as evil because it doesn’t tip its hand until the end (thus leaving alone the existential experience of watching most of the movie for the first time) and doesn’t lock in the viewer. Hence a grade other than 0. But the attitude Van Sant objective and impressionistic direction exemplifies — which adds up in this milieu to a sort of ironic “whatever” — links him inseparably to these characters. Look, I won’t pretend to be the biggest fan of the emo personality-type. Nor will I deny my suspicions about Van Sant’s interest in teen culture (though he is far more subtle than the drooling perv Larry Clark). These facts DO feed into my repulsion for ELEPHANT and PARANOID PARK. And don’t get me wrong — PARANOID PARK is shot by Christopher Doyle and thus lovely to look at, particularly in its use of both narrow and deep focal depths; the sound mix is incredible, with Felliniesque music cues, natural sound and expressionistic use of spoken dialog. And its narrative is an exercise in structural denial, as Van Sant constantly fills in gaps in what happend “that night” down by the skateboard park, which resulted in a security guard’s death in being run over by a train.

    But this structure leads into what is disgusting about this movie — it’s engaged in the same acts of denial and delay as the film’s protagonist Alex (flatly portrayed by Gabe Nevins, like a Bressonian model). Neither its including a homicide nor the killer “getting away with it” are my point at all; nor is it that Alex that denies what he did, but rather I am saying that Van Sant does this also. He puts off telling us that Alex killed a security guard and then after that it’s all about Alex, i.e., the very narcissism and selfishness that led to the killing in the first place. Besides the story structure, Van Sant’s Alex-identifying direction and the flat affectlessness of his Bela-Tarr-style correlates with Alex’s attitude. PARK even invites the comparison, by having Alex write a letter called “Paranoid Park” telling what happened. The film ends with the “smart chick” telling Alex, without knowing exactly what is “troubling” him, that “it’s good to put it out there even if nobody reads it.” Alex supposedly does (the film jumps around in time a lot, but is never unclear). And then he burns the letter. End of movie (more or less). But wait … there’s a human being who has been cut in half here, and is this exclusively “telling=catharsis” ending morally acceptable? Can this film end by cutting to one more lyrical interlude of skateboarders doing their schtick? For an act of that gravity? When the movie has no other possible “there” there? No.

    SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO, Takashi Miike, Japan — 7
    There really isn’t any way to react positively to this movie — a tribute to Westerns, particularly Sergio Leone and spaghetti Westerns acted by an (almost-)all-Japanese cast but in badly spoken English — except with slobbering fanboy worship. So let the slobbering begin: the pre-credits sequence involving Quentin Tarantino as Charles Bronson in a hyper-artificial take-off on the start of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is awesome; QT’s other scene apes the Uma-Gordon Liu scenes in KILL BILL, only it’s about cooking, and it’s even awesomer (consider these Skandie plugs); two souls fighting over control of one body has kicked ass ever since ALL OF ME; characters wanting to be Shakespearean heroes rocks; swords stopping bullets roolz; Japanese people mangling English is never not funny; Japanese people innocently spouting Western terms they only half-understand (if there’s a “social criticism” angle to the film, that’s it) never isn’t either. OK. Perspective. (Victor goes to dry out mouth.) Like all recent Miike, DJANGO is too long and often drags. Miike seems to be better at coming up with wtf-premises than at executing them from fade-in to fade-out. After a half-hour I was sore with laughter but thinking “he can’t keep this up.” And he can’t. The last hour runs on the fumes of movie in-jokes (I apparently was the only person in the insane Ryerson Midnight Madness crowd to get a joke about Japanese MLB players.) But the fumes are high-octane-grade enough to kick the comic engine into gear often enough to recommend.

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    September 13, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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    (Review Source)
  • TIFFing time again
    (”Paranoid Park” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFFing time again

    If this year’s Toronto International Film Festival lineup is any indication, it will be a long fall, with the Artist-Industrial Complex lecturing about the evil that is (in the words of this blurb) “the so-called War on Terror” (and the rest of the usual demonology). With that in mind, I didn’t give a bunch of films playing at this year’s festival so much as a second look — here’s the whole list of Toronto movies and presentations that I would not see on principle. I saw the subject matter or read the descriptions, crossed it off and moved on.

    Looking at that list, or rather the length of it (20 films and several presentations) — I really have to wonder if alienating conservative viewers is something Hollywood, Indiewood and the Festival Mafia do as a conscious marketing strategy or is just so much their unstated “Dasein” that they can’t even step outside themselves to see it.

    But in a festival of almost 300 films, that’s not an insurmountable loss. In fact, here is another pretty distinguished list (will try to reconstruct later, VJM) — the films I really wanted to see but probably will not (I may juggle stuff around, depending on buzz). For the most part, it was simply a matter of scheduling, trying to squeeze a quart of 60 must-see films into a pint pot of 50 time slots. You can get to their individual pages from this list-page.

    • Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, Britain) — no explanation needed, I hope
    • The Last Lear (Rituparno Ghosh, India) — Amitabh Bachchan, the world’s biggest star, in his first English role
    • Beyond the Years (Im Kwon-taek, South Korea) — the pansori singer was the best part of Im’s Chunhyang
    • Christopher Columbus: The Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal) — another weird-out conversation piece like A Talking Picture?
    • The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette, France) — every film by the New Wave Masters is an event
    • Juliette Binoche in films by Hou Hsiao-hsien and Amos Gitai — can maybe the world’s greatest actress help out torpid auteurs?
    • The Pope’s Toilet (Enrique Fernandez/Cesar Charlone, Uruguay) — wack premise could make a great semi- (or even non-) blasphemous black comedy
    • Juno (Jason Reitman, USA) — Thank You for Smoking as a debut film; plus, later, Mike d’A says strong buzz from Telluride
    • Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, USA) — Ryan Gosling; the word “Lars” and the use a puppet to substitute for a person (Ryan, stay the hell away)
    • Boy A (John Crowley, Britain) — echoes of Nolan’s Memento and the Dardennes’ Le Fils
    • Ellen Burstyn presents Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More (Martin Scorsese, USA) — No explanation needed, I hope

    So … bitching over.

    Unlike last year, I got all my first choices, and this festival is shaping up with the potential to be the greatest ever. After a so-so first day, the potential masterpieces come in daily and in bunches — Andersson, Herzog, Rohmer, Maddin, A. Lee, Baumbach, Olmi, Lee M-s, Ozon. Plus enormous buzz on the Bar-Lev, Van Sant, the Coens and Matsumoto. The films by the uneven Miike and Loach look to fit the maker’s good molds rather than the bad ones. Plus Cannes prize-winners by Mungiu, Kawase, Lee C-d. And my first exposures to Tarr, Reygadas, and Jiang. The Breillat and Arcand even seem tolerable. A rediscovered Ford silent, plus a contemporary-made silent slapstick homage. Even Greenaway, whose last film became the first I ever walked out on, is cause for optimism — getting back into Dutch paintings and a group of militiamen, so can we expect The Draughtsman, The Thief, His Wife, etc.? And to top it all off — Max von Sydow presenting one of Ingmar Bergman’s movies a few weeks after his death.¹

    This will be an awesome week-and-a-half. Here is my planned schedule.

    6 SEPT
    630pm Fugitive Pieces (Jeremy Podeswa, Canada)
    900pm The Brave One (Neil Jordan, USA)
    1159pm The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento, Italy)

    7 SEPT
    915am You, the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
    noon The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase, Japan)
    400pm One Hundred Nails (Ermanno Olmi, Italy)
    715pm Les Chansons d’Amour (Christophe Honore, France)
    900pm Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, Taiwan)

    8 SEPT
    1000am Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, France/Iran)
    1245pm The Man from London (Bela Tarr, Hungary)
    330pm The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey)
    600pm No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, USA)
    900pm The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, USA)

    9 SEPT
    200pm Bucking Broadway (John Ford, USA, 1917; presented by Peter Bogdanovich)
    345pm In Memory of Myself (Saverio Costanzo, Italy)
    600pm Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway, Britain)
    900pm Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland)

    10 SEPT
    1000am 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
    1215pm Happiness (Hur Jin-ho, South Korea)
    300pm Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, Britain)
    700pm Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, USA)
    915pm My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, USA)

    11 SEPT
    1100am Children of the Sun (Yaldey Hashemesh, Israel)
    100pm Chaotic Ana (Julio Medem, Spain)
    345pm Operation Filmmaker (Nina Davenport, USA)
    600pm Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach, USA)
    915pm Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, USA)
    1159pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, Japan)

    12 SEPT
    930am It’s a Free World… (Ken Loach, Britain)
    noon The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, France)
    230pm Atonement (Joe Wright, Britain)
    600pm A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol, France)

    13 SEPT
    930am Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer, Australia)
    1230pm Reclaim Your Brain (Hans Weingartner, Germany)
    300pm Days of Darkness (Denys Arcand, Canada)
    515pm Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea)
    915pm A Gentle Breeze in the Village (Nobuhiro Yamashita, Japan)

    14 SEPT
    900am Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, France)
    noon M (Lee Myung-se, South Korea)
    300pm The Walker (Paul Schrader, USA)
    545pm Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years (Jacon Thuesen, Denmark)
    800pm The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1960; presented by Max Von Sydow)
    1159pm Dainipponjin (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)

    15 SEPT
    945am California Dreamin’ (Endless) (Cristian Nemescu, Romania)
    1245pm Angel (Francois Ozon, France)
    245pm Son of Rambow (Garth Jennings, Britain)
    600pm The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen, China)
    800pm My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada)
    1100pm Just Like Home (Lone Sherfig, Denmark)

    ——————
    ¹ Was there nobody in Italy to do the same for Antonioni? Or is/was any tribute programming done at Venice?

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    Me and MaxIn "Ingmar Bergman"

    Gratuitous lists-1In "TIFF 2008"

    TIFF Capsules -- Day 8In "Denys Arcand"

    September 5, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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  • TIFF Grades — Days 6/7
    (”Paranoid Park” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFF Grades — Days 6/7

    11 SEPT (skipped two morning “filler” films to catch up sleep
    OPERATION FILMMAKER, Nina Davenport, USA — 7
    MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, Noah Baumbach, USA — 8
    PARANOID PARK, Gus Van Sant, USA — 3
    SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO, Takashi Miike, Japan — 7

    12 SEPT
    ITS A FREE WORLD …, Ken Loach, Britain — 5
    THE LAST MISTRESS, Catherine Breillat, France — 4
    ATONEMENT, Joe Wright, Britain — 8
    A GIRL CUT IN TWO, Claude Chabrol, France — 4

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  • Skandies season
    (”Paranoid Park” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    skrunnerscarell

    Skandies season

    We’re now in film-geek awards season. Paul has started going through the awards categories in the Muriels (next year, I fearlessly predict a knockdown drag-out in the 50th anniversary category — NORTH BY NORTHWEST vs. SOME LIKE IT HOT). And in the Skandies poll in which I vote, and which I went to considerable time and expense to see a single eligible film right at deadline, Mike already has reached #12 in the daily countdown.

    In deference to Mike’s oft-expressed wishes, I will not reveal my ballot until after the end of the countdown, when it becomes public anyway.

    But this is what got left on the cutting-room floor — i.e., the performances, scenes, etc. that I short-listed as I put the ballot together and went over my “film seen” list, but got shucked away as I whittled the list in each category down to 10. So these are all thing I *did not* vote for, but was of a mind to at one point. The asterisks indicate the entry was the last one to get eliminated — the #11, as it were.

    LEAD MALE
    Jeff Goldblum, ADAM RESURRECTED — Can’t quite overcome the basic wtf quality of the movie, but does a damn good job trying.
    Jason Statham, THE BANK JOB — Has the charisma and physical presence needed to be a major action star that you can bear to see act (cf, the Rock).
    ** Steve Carell, GET SMART — Actually gave us a Maxwell Smart who was both funny and not a Don Adams clone.
    Jean-Claude Van Damme, JCVD — Nobody else could play this role half as well, and not simply “by definition.”
    Muthana Mohmed, OPERATION FILMMAKER — Forget that this is a documentary; he is playing a role, a self-conscious “selling of himself (or a narrative of his travails)” at every moment.
    Sam Rockwell, SNOW ANGELS — James Reston in F/N was a strident one-note rant compared to this … ahem … strugglingly-religious struggling-drunk.
    Will Poulter, SON OF RAMBOW — The Bad Boy has all the fun in goody-good-good movies, and gives it all back to us.
    Francois Cluzet, TELL NO ONE — Cluzet would have been an ideal Hitchcock leading man — closest to Jon Fitch in FRENZY.
    Mark Ruffalo, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU — Why did the studio dump this perfectly accessible crime movie, which Ruffalo makes deeper and more-original than it looks (which admittedly isn’t per-se saying much)?

    LEAD FEMALE (weakest category)
    Katherine Heigl, 27 DRESSES — I don’t think I’m thinking with the wrong organ when I say that I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
    Meryl Streep, DOUBT — If you’d toned it down a bit, Meryl, I’d have joined everybody else’s hosannahs.
    ** Kierston Wareing, IT’S A FREE WORLD — Where does Loach find all these terrifically natural actors, and why does he surround them with Laverty’s horrifically contrived scripts?
    Kate Beckinsale, SNOW ANGELS — Stuck in my memory, though I honestly can’t remember why beyond being surprised she could pull off middle-aged unhappiness at all.

    SUPPORTING MALE
    Daniel Mays, THE BANK JOB — Scene-stealing character actors like Mays are what pushes the competent heist-action movie into at least “pretty good.”
    Peter Mullan, BOY A — Not an inauthentic cell in his body, though somewhat limited by the schematic role the script gave him.
    Aaron Eckhart, THE DARK KNIGHT — Ho hum … Eckhart awesome again. Though I thought he was better (careful wording) early on, where he could use his endless supply of oleaginous charm.
    ** Brendan Gleeson, IN BRUGES — The very opposite of Eckhart in every way, but also provided exactly what *his* movie needed — gravitas.
    Raymond Mearns, IT’S A FREE WORLD — Just a couple of scenes, but an unforgettable Glaswegian “character.”
    David Straithairn, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS — The most “tang” in any character in Wong’s overripe hymn to fruity melon-collie (sorry …)
    James Franco, (speaking of which) PINEAPPLE EXPRESS — I really believe that this dealer would be a man’s best friend.
    Quentin Tarantino, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO — A horrifically bad actor, but Miike knows how to harness a bad-actor — use him as a kind of self-parodying presence for comedy.
    Tom Cruise, TROPIC THUNDER — A horrifically bad actor, but Stiller knows how to harness a bad-actor — use him as a kind of self-parodying presence for comedy.
    Tom Wilkinson, VALKYRIE — More Wilkinson’s persona and presence than the role, really, but this movie needed some of both.
    Richard Dreyfuss, W. — Easily the “best” performance in the film, but Stone is so all-over-the-map with his actors that I decided that I can’t even really be sure that this is a “good” performance in the film’s context.

    SUPPORTING FEMALE
    Emma Thompson, BRIDESHEAD REVISITED — Liked this performance less after seeing Claire Bloom in the 11-hour TV series, but Emma simply doesn’t know how to not make you watch her.
    Frances McDormand, BURN AFTER READING — Of course she’s overacting, Mike. In this movie, that’s a problem?
    Tilda Swinton, BURN AFTER READING — But *here* was someone I was astonished to see could comically overact as effectively as McDormand.
    Catinca Untaru, THE FALL — Movie’s very hazy in the memory (I saw it when the GOP controlled Congress), but her naivete and willfulness have stuck with me.
    Anne Hathaway, GET SMART — I don’t suppose it’ll count as giving away my ballot if I say that the “I’ve got her taken care of elsewhere”-factor hurt Hathaway’s chances here.
    ** Karina Fernandez, HAPPY GO-LUCKY — I don’t suppose it’ll count as giving away my ballot if I say that the “I’ve got that movie taken care of elsewhere”-factor hurt Fernandez’s chances.
    Joan Cusack, KIT KITTREDGE — I don’t know if there’s right now an actress who’s better at playing “dotty.”
    Debra Winger, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED — Wished she had more scenes, though I understand why dramatically-speaking, her character couldn’t be around too much.
    Samantha Morton, SYNECHDOCHE, NEW YORK — The only thing I can really say is that I remembered her at all in this meta-mess that pretty much ends my interest in Kaufman.
    Marie-Josee Croze, TELL NO ONE — Can’t say why I liked her without giving away too much, so I’ll just say that she has one of the best acting-faces this side of Liv Ullman (I’ve never seen her and not at least short-listed her).
    Penelope Cruz, VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA — Never quite shook the notion that she’s overdoing the “Latin firecracker” bit, but she was such an entertaining firecracker that it hardly matters.
    Rebecca Miller, VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA — Never quite shook the notion that she’s overdoing the “repressed stick-in-the-mud” bit, but she was such an effective stick that it hardly matters.
    Ko Hyeon-geong, WOMAN ON THE BEACH — Hard to believe that “the Jennifer Aniston of South Korea” (Theo’s phrase) could be the subtlest actor in the film.

    In case it isn't obvious, this is Canet directing (fellow runnerup) Marie-Josee Croze on the set ... I couldn't find a pic of him writing with partner Philippe Lefebvre.

    SCRIPT
    J. Michael Straczynski, CHANGELING — Actually made a wtf real-life story halfway, not exactly credible, but entertainingly in-credible. Pity about the direction though.
    Emmanuel Bourdieu and Arnaud Desplechin, A CHRISTMAS TALE — Has that let’s-take-everything-in ambition, but the resultant meandering quality somehow avoids coming across as wheel-spinning.
    Mike Leigh, HAPPY GO-LUCKY — Ho hum … loaves, fishes … you know the drill from the world’s greatest writer-who-didn’t-make-a-film-called-MEMENTO. But mikebud … kill the insane dude … seriously.
    Peter Morgan, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL — Actually made a wtf real-life story halfway, not exactly credible, but entertainingly in-credible. Pity about the direction though. And your damn F/N script from later in the year.
    Eric Rohmer, ROMANCE OF ASTREA AND CELADON — Has an innocence and purity that subsequent reviews made me see, but I still don’t fundamentally get why the film was made at all.
    ** Philippe Lefebvre and Guillaume Canet, TELL NO ONE — Such a strong story that I really regretted shucking away every short-listing I gave the film and wound up giving it no points at all.
    Hong Sang-soo, WOMAN ON THE BEACH — So wildly ambitious in its antecedents (8 1/2 and VERTIGO — a director trying to mould a woman into the perfect leading lady for life) yet still fits within the same Hong patterns

    DIRECTOR (strongest category, I think)
    Christopher Nolan, THE DARK KNIGHT — I’ve a feeling I’ll regret this omission more than any other, perhaps not seeing Nolan’s direction because blinded by his being simply the best scriptwriter in the world (um … spoiler I guess).
    Jacques Rivette, THE DUCHESS OF LANGEAIS — Except maybe for this one, only the second Rivette to really send me. He should make more movies about nuns in my opinion.
    ** Fatih Akin, THE EDGE OF HEAVEN — The script so completely falls apart in Act 3 that it’s a tribute to Akin’s direction that the film still sometimes works (and the memory of the first two acts isn’t tainted too much).
    Tarsem, THE FALL — Yeah, yeah, make fun of me all you want, you hipsterdudes cracking about “perfume commercials.” Giganticism never gets held against Fritz Lang.
    Michael Haneke, FUNNY GAMES — Yep. Haneke doing what he does best in a language he doesn’t speak well, and it’s still not enough for the Top 10. The film’s repetitiveness, in the context of the guy’s career, also hurt its chances.
    Patricia Rozema, KIT KITTREDGE — The biggest surprise of the year for me and the credit goes to Rozema’s restraint and her control of the tricky and unfashionable tone this story needed. Wished I could have found a slot for her.
    Wong Kar-wai, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS — Yep. Wong doing what he does best in a language he doesn’t speak well, and it’s still not enough for the Top 10. The film’s repetitiveness, in the context of the guy’s career, also hurt its chances.
    Gus Van Sant, PARANOID PARK — Why did I think I would give points to a film I so morally detested? Maybe that question is its own answer.
    Stuart Gordon, STUCK — OK … maybe THIS was the year’s biggest surprise (though word of mouth at TIFF 07 was strong), and like Rozema’s film also a great job of maintaining a tricky tone — here between semi-gore and semi-comedy.

    SCENE
    Interview with Henry Waxman, BIGGER STRONGER FASTER — The guy is such a self-righteous smarm that I was cheering when Bell made him look a fool.
    ** Inside the car, BURN AFTER READING — (vjm goes off to cry somewhere at cutting this howlingly-funny scene that sold me on this film fergood)
    Che at the UN, CHE — Just about the only spark in the film, and also the only moments that aren’t back-of-the-throat treatment, by secular-liberal lights.
    Family history, A CHRISTMAS TALE — As someone who wasn’t a great fan of Desplechin, this early scene’s mixture of whimsy and economical exposition won me over right away.
    The roach game, CJ7 — Wished the film hadn’t gotten all serious, as this scene rivaks LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL in the terms of a “make lemonade” game being used as a comic denial-of-misery.
    First office confrontation, DOUBT — If Steve McQueen had staged this conversation, in a single static take — or maybe two or three, this could have been the scene of the year, in a walk.
    At the convent, THE DUCHESS OF LANGEAIS — The sudden cutting at the end is as shocking and violent as any onscreen-stabbing.
    The Pakistani couple, FROZEN RIVER — Another scene I really regretted having to lose, it’s really the movie’s moral trajectory in miniaturem suspenseful as all hell, and on two different grounds. But Melissa Leo allowed me to make it up.
    Hancock vs. France, HANCOCK — C’mon … you know why I love this scene.
    Flamenco!, HAPPY GO-LUCKY — Whenever I think Leigh should can his actorly one-scene bits like the homeless guy, along comes a masterful scene like this one to remind me how handsomely his gambles often pay off.
    “Bapu Can’t Dance,” JAANE TU YA JAANE NA — Yo, Academy … *here* is AR Rahman at his best (OK … maybe not *very* best, but *way* better).
    Opening scene, JCVD — I agree with Mike … wtf were y’all thinking (see the scene there). Even if JCVD’s 4th-wall scene isn’t cringeworthy, this one is WAY more fun.
    Stuck in windshield, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS — This was a good year for people getting stuck in windshields in my opinion.
    Encounter group, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED — (vjm just goes off to cry again … I so hate the confessional mode that being emotionally involved with a group like this blew me away … maybe my self-conscious aversion to bloc voting hurt it)
    The Stepford breakfast, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD — I don’t care what y’all say … Kate’s mannered Sirkian recitation and gestures *made* this scene.
    Reaching for the cell phone, STUCK — So much drama and suspense turns on (quite literally) the most minute of gestures and the smallest of spaces.
    QT and cooking, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO — If you’re unsympatico with the film’s whole concept — deliberately mangled recapitulation of Western tropes as pomo-gesture humor … I couldn’t even begin to make the case for this scene.
    Retardation explained, TROPIC THUNDER — (repeat vjm crying drill from above … probably the year’s most memorably quotable scene. And it’s film criticism!! And spot on, too!!!)
    Restaurant confrontation, WOMAN ON THE BEACH — In some ways an even more uncomfortable scene than the confrontation in DOUBT above, because the characters are so self-consciously (making a show of being) “explosive.”

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    February 10, 2009 - Posted by | Skandies

    1 Comment »

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure it’s only a two-horse race for next year’s 50th Anniversary Muriel- I’m guessing we’ve got a good Nouvelle Vague contingent among our ranks, which would make THE 400 BLOWS and BREATHLESS major players in the game. Plus there’s also PICKPOCKET, RIO BRAVO, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR… you get the idea. Way more going on than in ’58. And the other Anniversary awards- ’84 and ’99- should be interesting too.

      Comment by Paul C. | February 23, 2009 | Reply


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