Paranoid Park (2007)

Paranoid Park (2007)

Starring Gabe Nevins, Daniel Liu, Jake Miller, Taylor Momsen, Lauren McKinney, Scott Patrick Green, John Burrowes

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Expectations: Moderate. I’m not a Van Sant fan, but my buddy Mike loves this one.


My good friend and frequent commenter Mike D (not of Beastie Boys fame) has been trying to get me to watch this movie since it was released. I always planned to watch it, but it was one of those movies I consistently put off for whatever reason. I have a strong aversion to Gus Van Sant movies, but my friend assured me that this one was different. I finally decided to just sit down and watch the damn thing and man, Mike spoke true. Paranoid Park managed to impress me, engage me and win me over. Maybe this Van Sant guy isn’t always so bad.

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Mini-Review: To Die For (1995)

Starring Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Alison Folland, Matt Dillon, Casey Affleck, Illeana Douglas, Dan Hedaya

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Expectations: None.


This is a mildly entertaining movie about a pretty girl who has high aspirations to be on television. She’ll do anything. Simple enough. Usually with this type of film, there’s some level of intrigue, but this is not the case with To Die For. The film is told through a pseudo-documentary style and you know pretty much what happens in the first couple of minutes. I’m okay with that, as long as the characters are interesting, but I’m sorry to say that they aren’t. Nicole Kidman’s character is the only one even remotely absorbing and she does well in her role, with some exceptional moments. Most of the other players are overacted caricatures of American stereotypes with Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix battling for the main offender trophy. Illeana Douglas is the best of the supporting cast, but then I always enjoy her in anything, so I could be biased.

This is all coupled with Gus Van Sant’s ugly, boring camera work and editing, making it readily apparent that this one just wasn’t made for me. I can say one thing about Van Sant’s work, he’s consistent. His shot selection never ceases to frustrate and annoy me. I had seen this before when it came out and I didn’t like it then. I like it less now. Avoid it, unless you generally like Van Sant’s work or you want to see Joaquin Phoenix or Casey Affleck in early roles.

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