Paradise (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/05/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 82 mins

Arguably much more of an artistic video installation project than a theatrical documentary, Michael Almereyda's film is nevertheless weirdly compelling in a 'what's on next' sort of way.

What's it all about?
Directed by Michael Almereyda (who made underrated arthouse vampire flick Nadja), Paradise is an experimental documentary that strings together several snapshots of real life in a series of unrelated video clips. Almereyda shot the clips himself, over a period of ten years, in around twelve different countries, though he never appears in the clips and there's no voiceover or caption to link the pieces together.

On top of that, there's only one recurring subject (actress Elina Lowensohn, star of Nadja, and even she's only in two segments) and very little dialogue, since hardly anyone acknowledges the fact that they're being filmed and most people don't even notice.

The Good
Inevitably, some of the clips (none of which lasts more than a couple of minutes) are more interesting than others. Highlights include: a boy falling into a swimming pool (Paradises's only You've Been Framed-style moment); a pretty girl waiting to get off a bus; a beautiful sunset filmed from a moving car as music plays on the car stereo; a rug salesman explaining why he doesn't have a rug at home; a man fixing a bed while Kylie's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' plays on the radio; a girl catching a bug at night in the woods; a drummer pulling stupid faces as his hipster doofus band make a terrible noise during an outdoor gig; and, in the film's best moment, a group of people driving to a hill in order to get a great view of multiple firework displays in a neighbourhood down below.

The Great
The effect of the film is weirdly compelling, in much the same way that if you're channel-flipping on cable television, you inevitably cycle through every available programme, even if they're all rubbish. In that sense, the film is skilfully edited, since each clip lasts exactly the right amount of time before you're ready to move on.

Worth seeing?
Whether or not Paradise achieves the press notes' stated aim of opening up “a space for each viewer to reflect on the moments that make up their own lives” is open to question, but it's fair to say that the film is better suited to a video installation project than a theatrical documentary.

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Content updated: 17/10/2017 13:58

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