04 March, 2008

Not Your Average Skate Music

Paranoid Park sounds like the title of a bad '90s slasher-pic with sub par alliteration. In reality, it's the new Gus Van Sant movie about a teenage skatah boi from Portland who stumbles into his roll as a notorious murderer. I'm still on the fence about the movie. I probably won't be viewing this gem in theatres, just because I was slightly turned off by the screaming D-R-A-M-A of the trailer. Paranoid Park seems to be just a little too caught up in its own seriousness to be any fun.

The soundtrack on the other hand, is loads of fun, and incredibly lacking in anything nasally, youthful, and loudly nonconformist. It begins with the European cinema sounds of Nino Rota. "La Gradisca e il Principe" is the sound of a day spent tooling around beautiful, scenic Italy and a night bursting with wine and stars. Elliott Smith somberly follows with "Angeles" and "The White Lady Loves You More". A Portland boy at heart, Smith sets the tone for a town made by trees. His songs are quiet and still, they barely move but they have a spooky energy that reminds me of dark, damp forests and hidden life. Nino Rota returns on tracks four, nine, and eleven with frenetic tempo changes and an eerie use of horns that could make even the most hardened heart joyful and paranoid within the same few seconds. The other tracks run the gamut from the jazzy New Orleans swing of Henry Davies' "Tunnelmouth Blues" to the trip-hop of Cool Nutz' "I Heard That" and the electronic uber-chill of Ethan Rose's "Song One".

Taken as a whole, the soundtrack is incredibly impressive. It stoops to none of the stereotypes of bad thrillers or skate movies, and yet it strikes chords of both creepiness and alienation. It isn't often that I find a soundtrack that makes me more interested in watching the movie, but the Paranoid Park soundtrack has instantly affected me more than any trailer ever could.

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