Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Circle of Trust #8: The Paranoids (2008)

It's been quite a while since I last posted, let alone done an entry in my Circle of Trust series, but in the interest of not letting a good excuse go to waste I'll blame it all on learning a bad habit from the main character of the film I'm looking at today. For first time readers or those who may have forgotten, in these posts I examine the awesome films distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories that I receive as a member of their Circle of Trust. Continuing their track record of great films, this time Oscilloscope brings us a quirky little film out of Argentina; Gabriel Medina's The Paranoids.

Instead of focusing on a group of paranoid individuals, as you might expect from the title, The Paranoids focuses on the life of Luciano Guana. An odd, twenty-something, slacker who has who has fallen into a bit of rut with his writing, Guana spends his time making ends meat performing at children's parties in an alien costume and getting high. To make matters worse he is extremely paranoid of everything, hence the title, from catching diseases to appearing stupid to others. While his life could have continued like this for quite a while, it begins to spin out of control when he reunites with an old "friend" who has become successful and his beautiful girlfriend.

While a bit of The Paranoids premise may sound tired, with dozens of slacker-centered films coming out every year, it breaks the mold in a number of areas. First and foremost, is the characters. Difficult, unique, and yet somehow realistic; the writing and actors meld together nicely making the film enchanting but also visceral. Trading clever lines for real dialogue and blank stares for nuanced expressions and movements, writer-director Medina gets exactly what he's looking for on the screen both from his actors and his words. This brings us to the film's next strength, it's precise vision. Each shot feels meticulously crafted and each set is carefully lit and arranged. Normally this would give the film a plastic, fake look but it is done to such a degree that it looks and feels just right. One of the characters even calls attention to it early on, but you can't help agreeing with it. 

Part of these meticulous sets is the strong presence of symbolism the film has that I enjoyed. It may seems a bit heavy handed in parts, such as using a boxing video game to portray the obvious conflict, but is quite elegant in other areas and leaves you something to find with each new viewing. Saving perhaps its best strength for last, The Paranoids also boasts a killer soundtrack. Utilizing club beats, soft instrumentals, and rock it gets a bit of everything while still maintaining a nice, cohesive sound. In fact, the trailer even gives a perfect sampling of it.

All in all, The Paranoids is a good film and I give it 4 out of 5 stars. The DVD gets the same score, as it features some awesome visuals (such as the cover shown at the top of the post) and the soundtrack in it's entirety instead of traditional features. Not going to leave you much time between this and my next CoT entry (as I already have it in hand) but be sure to check out The Paranoids soon, maybe even click here to add it to your netflix queue.

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