Los Paranoicos

 

The Paranoids

Written Gabriel Medina & Nicolas Gueilburt

Directed by Gabriel Medina

2008

 

Cast:

Daniel Hendler

Jazmin Stuart

Walter Jacob

Martin Feldman

Miguel Dedovich


Crew:

Cinematography by Lucio Bonelli

Art direction by Sebastian Roses

Edited by Nicolas Goldbart

Sound by Fernando Soldevila

Music by Guillermo Guareschi

 

Production:

Theatrical: Aeroplano Cine & Mondo Cine

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories

 

Video:

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Format: NTSC

Disc Size: Dual Layer

Avg. Bit Rate: 7.46 Mbps

Runtime: 105 minutes

Chapters: 17

Region: All

 

Audio:

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

 

Subtitles: English


Extras:

• Music video for "Nada de Nada" by Farmacia (3.15 min.)

• The Paranoids complete soundtrack (MP3s)

• Theatrical trailer - in HD (1:50)


Presentation:

Custom Paper Gatefold Blu-ray case: DVD x1

Release Date: April 12, 2011



Introduction

Oscilloscope Laboratories continues its exploration of independent films with this sly, offbeat comedy from Argentinean writer/director Gabriel Medina.  Medina was born in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the year 1975. He studied film at the "Universidad del Cine", set in the very traditional borough of San Telmo, where he got his Degree in Film Arts in the year 1998.  He then traveled a long and varied road in the Argentinean industry, first in television as a producer, editor, writer and director, then in film where he worked as an assistant director both in features and commercials and finally, and while developing his first film's script, as a screenwriter and script doctor.


    


The Movie: 7

No, Gabriel Medina’s 2008 art film and Sundance favorite, isn’t about a conclave of psychotic counter-revolutionaries.  The title refers to a TV series developed by Manuel, the best friend of our anti-hero, Luciano Gauna.  “Los Paranoicos” is doing very well in Spain, and Manuel wants to promote it in Argentina where lives Luciano and where the action of our movie takes place.  Unbeknownst to Luciano, Manuel has based the main character on him: the series is about a government agency that trains paranoid men to be operatives in covert operations.  In fact, the characters name is “Luciano Gauna”.  It’s bad enough that Manuel borrows his friend’s persona, as Luciano points out with some righteous distress when he learns of what feels to him like a personal sabotage, but he even uses his full name.


    


The truth is that Luciano, while not exactly paranoid, is more than a little anti-social.  He’s hypochondriacal to the point that he obsesses about getting an STD (I assume AIDS) after a single encounter; he hates his job where he wears a furry purple suit for children’s parties; he is exceedingly high strung with a fuse of negative length; he gets stoned every day, and burns incense and closes the curtains to make sure the neighbors won’t notice.  He seems unable to finish anything he starts: he has been “working on” a movie script for the past two years but we never see him write word.  Luciano does enjoy music in his offbeat way.  He has a Ramones poster in his room and, in the first of the movie’s two great dance numbers, he practices his moves in a mock-karaoke fashion.


    


When Manuel comes to town he tries to interest Luciano in what promises to be a lucrative position in the production company that will make the series in Buenos Aires.  Meanwhile, Manuel’s subtly hot and low-key girlfriend, Sofia (Jazmin Stuart), moves out of Manuel’s parents’ pad where she was staying temporarily, and imposes herself on Luciano.  The rest is comedy - and would be entirely successful if it weren’t that the film is so damnably episodic.  Even the scene where Luciano tosses his cookies in his toilet after too much wine while insisting an ambulance be called is so long it becomes a scene itself instead of the flourish it should be. Still, the characterizations are deliriously spot-on, especially by Hendler, who gets my vote for best stoned man, and Stuart, who is as naturally striking as she is a natural foil for Luciano.  Their two big scenes - the one where they attempt meaningful communication while blotted - done to death, I know, but not like this - is hysterical; and their dance duet to the music of “Farmacia” (a droll name under the circumstances, is it not?) - Psycho Killer by way of Deep Breakfast - is quietly erotic.


    


Lucio Bonelli’s lighting and camera work is naturalistic yet ingenious, full of shadows and chiaroscuro.

High marks, too, for the audio palette arranged by Fernando Soldevila.  He complements the imagery with an array of smartly mixed musical numbers from live and recorded sources.


Image: 9/7

Once again, Oscilloscope proves themselves to be without peer in the art and science of transferring movie elements to video.  In this case, they had to deal with a excessively dark image, one that indulges in black and shadow since its main character permits very little light into his world.  His neon purple party suit makes for startling contrast.  Oscilloscope gets both right: unbrightened blacks even in the deepest shadows and darkest nights. What little noise there is appears to come from source elements.  Colors, often strikingly lit form an apparent window source, are rich and deep and never invade the dramatic space by “leaping off the screen.”  Resolution and image coherence at times seems to rival some Blu-rays.  Edge enhancement is non-existent.  The finale in the club includes strobe effects and spotlights that stare right into the lens, but the image remains stable, leaving only the actors to threaten the moment.


    


Audio & Music: 8/8

Oscilloscope offers two mixes: the original Stereo and a 5.1 remix, both in Spanish.  There are no English dubs - and it would be manifest insanity to try.  The dialogue is always clear and properly shaped and balanced - on the stereo track at any rate.  The music at the club, over the credits and accompanying the video boxing match between Manuel and Luciano has plenty of punch and a wide frequency range.  My only gripe is that the stereo mix is not LPCM.


    


Extras: 2

Contrary to their usual practice (in my experience) Oscilloscope provides few extras here.  Even so they would have been choice if they had lived up to expectation.  There is no commentary nor even a production featurette.  In their place we find a music video of the final musical number “Nada de Nada” by a group that calls themselves “Farmacia.”  In the context of the movie, the number appears as a riveting, seductive dance between Luciano and Sofia, but in the thinly produced music video, it has nothing going for it.


    


In addition to a smart trailer for the film, in HD no less, Oscilloscope offers what promises to be an unusual treat: an easily downloadable (PC or Mac) soundtrack featuring eleven MP3 files plus a pdf listing of the titles.  But here’s the rub: as an MP3 file “Nada de Nada” is just another tinkly rock tune, without any weight whatever. Same goes for “El Feretro” the Todos Tus Muertos number that Luciano struts and gyrates to in his apartment. They are both clear and clean, but lack huevos.  Clearly whatever Los Paranoicos sound man Fernando Soldevila did to treat the original gave these substantial presence with little sacrifice of clarity.


On the positive side, Oscilloscope once again has designed a smart and artful paper case to house their DVD, which can be safely stored and easily accessed.


    


Recommendation: 8

Despite its flaws, I have to say that I rather enjoyed this movie. Its episodic nature lends itself to revisiting in the same way we play favorite tracks off a record, and I have done so to the delight of guests.  Bonus features suck, but image and sound quality are top drawer for this format.



Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

April 3, 2011



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