Gus Van Sant’s penetrating focus on teenagers, in “To Die For,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Elephant,” might be creepy, if Van Sant were not so effective in capturing the lives of his subjects. Van Sant (age 55) carries on, in both subject matter and quality, with “Paranoid Park.” The low-budget film, made with nonprofessional actors, intrudes intensely on Alex, a quiet, removed skateboarder who has witnessed, or committed, some foul deed in the sketchy Paranoid Park section of Portland (Van Sant’s hometown). The film builds its tension not so much in plot, which is revealed bit by bit in out-of-time sequences, but through the psychological landscape of Alex, who tries to maintain his normal life (family, girlfriend, skateboarding) while figuring out what to do with a far out-of-the-ordinary event. Consider it a more internal version of the 1986 teenager classic, “River’s Edge.” Starring a very competent Gabe Nevins as Alex, “Paranoid Park” shows Monday and Tuesday, May 12-13, at the Wheeler Opera House.
The numbers are impressive: In nine years, the Basalt Battle of the Bands has raised nearly $30,000 for the typically cash-strapped music departments of local schools. Even better are the sounds: the mash-up of garage punk and trained jazz bands, folkie singer-songwriters and jam bands, classical and Mariachi. This year’s 10th annual Battle of the Bands ” or BOB, as the T-shirts have it ” is set for Saturday, May 17, in Basalt’s Lions Park, with 30 acts over six hours. Over the years, the BOB has grown into a community festival, with street vendors, food booths and more lining the streets of Basalt.
On the Cloud Cult website, the band’s frontman Craig Minowa lists 36 past occupations (window handle factory worker, water velocity measurer). In a recent interview, he said that one job he may soon give up is leading Cloud Cult, the Minnesota group he formed in 1995. From the evidence of “Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes),” that would be a premature career move. The album, released last month, cackles with energy as it mashes up glorious melody, folk and classical sounds, and crunchy, indie-rock guitars on a spacious landscape. Minowa is said to be fueled by the death, in 2002, of his 2-year-old son, and from the songs on “Feel Good Ghosts,” the memories still haunt, but they also fill him with yearning. “Live on, baby, live on,” he sings in a fragile voice on the hopeful “The Ghost Inside the House.” Cloud Cult makes its local debut Friday, May 16, with alt-rock duo Kid Dakota opening.
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