Posts Tagged ‘human hubris’

The Best Night of Sleep Sanger Rainsford Ever Had

May 13, 2018

In Richard Connell’s 1924 classic ‘The Most Dangerous Game,’ a big-city trophy hunter washes up on a remote island, soon revealed to be inhabited by a philosophizing fellow hunter. Over a stately dinner, the host identifies himself to be a prize hunter too, as well as something of a freethinking homicidal. Stalking elephants and leopards had grown tiresome, he explained — hence the island equipped with treacherous waters, occasionally delivering via shipwreck to its proprietor the only remaining worthwhile quarry: Men. Soon, a new hunt is on.

Among the improbably growing ranks of skateboard filmers, the thrill of the hunt tends to scale alongside duration. Instagram-ready clips are single-digit ‘Duck Hunt’ level potshots; the one-off/solo part barely Bambi. There is a worthy challenge in nailing and transcending the attention-span sweet spot that is the 15 to 20-minute promo, with a couple full parts and a couple montages, or the footage-dumping ‘mixtape’ project of similar length. But in this woolly realm, the most dangerous game is the full-length video —- its gaping maw of hubris, its difficult-to-wrangle girth, its often unbearable weight, threatening to trample less-seasoned filmers under viewers’ colossal expectations.

Having conquered skateboard professionals, shops and the upper-shredding masses, what prey remains for those moneyed alphas of the industry, the industrial shoe merchants? Mastering the full-length video, that great unquantifiable, that tantalizing money pit, that great ‘Branding Statement,’ continues to beckon and tempt international sporting goods manufacturers like some VX1000-mic’d siren song. For Nike Inc., this has been a slow process. The Oregonian sportswear conglomerate dipped in its toe-piece with 2004’s ‘On Tap,’ flexing some plotting and production and a little bit of those Rodriguez acting chops, but never fully committing. Nike saved that for 2007’s bloated misfire ‘Nuttin’ But the Truth,’ which saddled some truly great skating, a still-corralable team and perhaps the all-time greatest Danny Supa part with an insistent storyline that, while intriguingly bizarre, asked far too much of a skate video viewer base freshly armed with DVD ‘skip’ buttons. Jason Hernandez’s excellent ‘Debacle’ project from 2009 hit all the marks for length, range and focus, but led into the increasingly rote ‘Chronicles’ series, which by the third installment had devolved into a transactional, paint-by-numbers affair.

Adidas, which for a while mastered the five-to-six minute road trip video with rotating picks from its more diverse roster, also veered into a predictable pattern to where it eventually seemed obligatory to attempt something bigger — and they wound up with 2016’s ‘Away Days,’ overlong and too top-heavy with too many good parts that wound up buried. The Juice crew seemed to struggle to construct a project greater than the sum of its parts, linked by something more than Gonz vignettes and blurred shots of streetlights and moving cars.

Now comes Cons, Nike’s subsidiary for the thrift-shop set, which moves without the weight of the world’s biggest sporting goods franchise stuffed into its canvas and rubber. For this reason Cons maybe squares a bit easier with skateboarding’s historic resume of scruffiness, artsiness and a general low-fi bearing, and ‘Purple’ headmaster Ben Chadbourne plays up this angle from the opening frames, typing out an introductory monologue on mid-century equipment (though not without some mobile-phone shorthand).

‘Purple’ justifies a good chunk of its 45-minute runtime in a way that, say, a Primitive full-length might struggle with, that is, diversity in style and approach. Straightaway Bobby De Keyzer pops out of all the backside noseblunts, sets his wide-bottoms whipping with a switch backside 360 in a line, and displays a mean halfway half-cab flip — but then you veer into Sage Elsesser, languid over tall bars, and what seems like whole-body lipslides. Kevin Rodriguez brings his abrasive wallrides and grabs in a Neubauten shirt, though Pontus Alv’s more-frenetic framing maybe was a better look for him, while Aaron Herrington stays on his ‘Welcome to Hell’ shit and there’s a weirdly endearing amount of Corey Duffel clips throughout. Underground style soldier Eli Reed swerves switch over a China Bank long bench, Frank Gerwer briefly reprises his star-making Transworld turn and Brian Delatorre somewhere in the middle dishes out maybe his best part ever, a half-switch scorcher that incorporates some brawny Al Davis moves and a wild new branch line from Black Rock. There’s some curated roll-ups courtesy of Sean Pablo, a mind-numbing Sean Greene ollie and then Louie Lopez, offering another few minutes of heaters with the occasional curveball — the rarely seen fakie frontside shove-it, a night line at Third and Army.

But it is Ben Chadbourne’s choice to close not with the obvious enders from a SOTY coulda/shoulda-been, but rather a comparatively skimpy contribution from the mercurial Jake Johnson, that argues strongest for Cons pulling off the full-length better than its larger-revenued predecessors. It’s easy to make the ‘quality over quantity’ argument justifying Jake Johnson’s solemn two minute wind-down to ‘Purple,’ even if it’s also a little disappointing, given prodigious recent output elsewhere. This though is the same logic that placed Guy Mariano’s ledge-heavy part last in ‘Mouse,’ not Eric Koston’s handrail-heavier section with its NBDs; or when Birdhouse’s blockbuster ‘The End’ stuck by its winking sketch to close on a shorter Bucky Lasek section rather than the stadium-touring Tony Hawk; or how Bill Strobeck’s ‘Cherry,’ among the strongest full-lengths of this aging decade, came with hardly any conventional ‘parts’ at all.

Does humankind’s hope for deeper Jake Johnson satisfaction now hinge upon the coming Quasi video? How many angles did Sean Greene’s ollie need for real? Was Adidas putting Dennis Busenitz last in ‘Away Days’ a left turn or playing it safe? Were people allowed to smoke in prior big shoe company videos? How come there were no Game Genie codes that let you shoot the dog in Duck Hunt?

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