Paranoid Park: By far the most effective of the series of teen anomie films that Gus Van Sant has released since abandoning a potentially lucrative career grinding out Good Will Hunting clones. The Warholian stoner ogling of vacuous, pillow-lipped boys around which Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days were centered still dominates, but the chronological games awaken him. Exploiting non actor Gabe Nevins’s wan interest in sex and the world of adults is a shrewd move; when things go wrong, so completely is the film’s sensibility tied to Nevins that we get no sense of imminent doom, which makes PP’s impact vaguely horrifying hours later.
Standard Operating Procedure: Although much more effective than Errol Morris’ hagiographic portrait of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara called The Fog of War (it could have been called The Fog of Interviewing), it fetishizes blood and guts (closeups of dripping noses and mouths) and intercuts dramatic recreations of events that look like “Unsolved Mysteries” stock footage. Another strike: who told filmmakers that Philip Glass-inspired scores suggest mystery and seriousness?
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: In 2020, teens will watch this on their computers and smirk at the fashions, attitudes, and music. Director/screenwriter/retired child actor Michael Cera will explain their intentions on a rueful, punchy commentary track. Adults will note that hackneyed plot contrivances and vomit jokes still charm the young (and some adults). Michael Cera is smart enough to note it publicly too.