Blake Nelson and Gus Van Sant, 2007
#6, 2008 Skandies
I liked this better when it was called 4 Months,
3 Weeks and 2 Days. Apparently so did the Skandie voters, since
4 Months placed five spots higher.
Like 4 Months, Paranoid Park is an attempt to evoke the
dissociated state of someone consumed by a terrible secret while the world
goes on around him/her as normal. Just swap out the Romanian family talking
about whether the meatballs are made of pork and swap in a little brother
recounting a scene from Napoleon Dynamite and you've basically got
Actually, that's not fair to 4 Months, which I did prefer by a
significant margin, in that it's also an interesting portrait of Romania in
Ceaușescu's last days and of a woman who goes to astonishing lengths to
help out a friend (and apparently not a particularly close one). Paranoid
Park, by contrast, is set among the "skateboarding community" of Portland,
in which I could hardly be less interested, and the protagonist is thoroughly
unremarkable in every respect. Why am I supposed to care about this guy?
One last difference: 4 Months tried to convey existential states
through the lead actress's performance, while Paranoid Park does it
with editing tricks, camera tricks, and audio tricks. It seems as though
the point of the project was largely to explore how to use specifically
cinematic effects to strike a mood. I've already discussed in other articles
that I'm much more interested in things like character, plot, and ideology
than in mood; to that, I will add the following:
There are certain media in which form interests me. Interactive fiction is
one, though I have little patience for it as a member of the audience.
Comics is another, though I seem to have settled into a pretty rigid style
in my own efforts in that medium. But the specifically cinematic aspects
of film form don't particularly interest me. Any movie whose chief raison
d'être is to explore how to convey something with a camera is pretty
unlikely to be my thing.|
Jon Ingold, 2000
Fail-Safe is a wonderful little story. The beginning is full of moments
that seem a little odd, and then when you reach the end everything clicks into
place — things that didn't even seem like hints suddenly jump out at
you and make you say, "Ha ha, how could I have missed that!"
Assuming that you reach the end. For Fail-Safe also suffers
greatly from guess-the-phrasing puzzles that pretty much derail the
thing — I played it with Elizabeth and she was ready to bail until
I did a text dump and figured out a few key commands. With every single
interactive piece I encounter I become that much more appreciative of Star
Control II and the way it wasn't at all frustrating to solve and yet still
provided a sense of accomplishment. The premise of Fail-Safe requires
that there be a fair amount of toaster-fixing, but still, there has to be a
better way. More synonyms, fewer unimplemented objects, more flexible verbs.
But as it stands, Fail-Safe has to go into the bin marked "more fun to
have played than to be playing."
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