Premiere Season! And all the Judgment that Comes with it.
Reviews of Ruin and Rose, Tight Loose and The Fourth Phase
(Main image by Andrew Wells)
Welcome to fall! Or as the pretentious like to call it: autumn. It’s an adorable time of year when all of the ski bums are mixing pumpkin spice with their doobies instead of tobacco and everyone’s flexing their hot new scarves on the village stroll.
WHAT A GLORIOUS TIME OF YEAR.
It’s also film premiere season, where we watch the skiing and the boardin’ instead of actually doing it. It’s kinda like watching porn, without the release at the end.
Indeed, fall is a time for blue balls for men and whatever the equivalent is for women (feel free to clarify in the comments).
Either way, it could be argued that this strange sense of purgatory causes us to be extra judgmental about the season’s new shred flicks.
Here are some takeaways from three of the big ones, all of which premiered in the last week.
Ruin and Rose – MSP
Quote from the crowd: “That’s the worst ski movie I’ve ever seen in my life.”
For the most part, I’d be inclined to agree with this declaration. There are definitely some worthy bits. Though I do think the narrative element could have been spiced up with a roving band of bloodthirsty cannibals.
If you’ve seen the film, you know I’m talking about the post-apocalyptic narrative that takes up at least half the screen time. Ben Sturgulewski, whose ability to weave storytelling into ski movies was showcased in Valhalla, ventured into bold new territory with Ruin and Rose. That departure from the norm, along with a strong environmental message, is totally admirable and entire film is beautifully shot. Unfortunately it failed in doing the one task that a ski movie is usually meant to achieve: it just didn’t stoke out the crowd.
It certainly could have, especially since the human-powered trip in Alaska’s Tordrillo Mountains is one of the most memorable segments I’ve seen in a long time. And Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson has a strong presence in the movie, shredding the absolute shit of the Selkirks.
I hope MSP is releasing athlete edits after the fact, because both Hoji’s and Abma’s will be amazing. (UPDATE: Ask and you shall receive. Hoji, ladies and gentlemen…)
As for the rest of the movie, a shout out is in order for having the balls to do something different. But I think Ruin and Rose will ultimately stand as a mistake that MSP learns from in the future.
Tight Loose – TGR
Quote from the crowd: “I guess we better get our asses in gear. Those guys made it look easy.”
That they did. TGR has managed in the last couple years to assert themselves as the crew that’s capturing the absolute forefront of big mountain freeriding. Not just skiing, but snowboarding too.
And yeah, that’s some pretty serious shit. But TGR also manages to document the part about being in the mountains that keeps us all coming back: the best fuckin’ times in the world with old friends and new. Inside jokes, fits of laughter and an overall sense of silliness that takes the edge off the fact that we could die at any given second.
The late show at Whistler’s Millennium Theatre was a raucous affair, with near constant cheering, a half-boozy peanut gallery and a steady stream of laughter making its way through the crowd.
Some of the highlights, for me anyways, were all the old lifestyle shots between sections. The mountains are full of hilarious people. But that won’t translate onto the screen unless you point the camera at them at the perfect time. TGR’s been doing this for 21 years now, and that’s one of the things they seem to have dialed in over the years.
“Listen, we’re not trying to win an emmy here,” said Ian McIntosh as he introduced the show. And while a lot of productions are introducing narratives into their films (with extremely mixed results), TGR is being rewarded for sticking to the heavy hitting shred porn motif.
Standouts included McIntosh, Dane Tudor and Griffin Post shredding three absolutely facemelting lines in three weeks (!) during their human-powered segment in AK and all of the snowboarding in the movie, especially last year’s FWT winner Sammy Luebke. Now there’s a guy who knows how to make it look easy.
Also, aside from a few backcountry booters, there’s no jibbing or park riding in the movie. I’m sure a few people will criticize the movie for that. But none of them were at the late show of Doglotion’s Whistler screening.
Vive le Freeride!
The Fourth Phase – Red Bull Media House
Quote from the crowd: “It’s like a band putting out an album with a new sound. I preferred their earlier stuff but it’s still good.”
That quote seems to capture the sentiment of just about everyone I talked to. “But it does make me want go snowboarding immediately, so that’s a success.”
And yeah, I’d agree with that as well. The boardin’ action was just so damn hot that I wanted to hit the slopes immediately.
But I do wish that Travis Rice would just shut the f@#k up and let his boardin’ do the talking. He’s like an alien who boards amongst us. And while those in the know seem to be criticizing the freestyle sections of the film for not being “progressive enough”, Travis’s mountain riding skills are absolutely next level, if a little reckless (SPOILER ALERT!).
But yes, back to my previous point, here’s a hot tip for any aspiring filmmakers out there: unless you hire real actors, voiceover has a 79% chance of ruining your movie. Surfing movies seem to have gotten the memo, with John C. Reilly narrating View from a Blue Moon and Edward Norton narrating Bustin’ Down the Door (both of which, incidentally, are amazing movies).
Anyways, The Fourth Phase introduces a cool concept with our relationship with the hydrological cycle. But it falls a little flat, mostly because Rice is the one doing most of the explaining instead of… Morgan Freeman? Or maybe even just leave it to that Dr. Gerald Pollack character, the guy who starts explaining the actual “fourth phase” of water at the beginning of the film. Either way, it’s a decent theme which makes for some epic imagery.
Eric Jackson is an absolute beast throughout the Fourth Phase and I’d say that the section of him and Travis shredding low-tide Tordrillos was some of the best damn boardin’ I’ve ever seen. And with no girls in the movie, the bearded EJack takes the top honours as the hottest chick at the party.
Travis is a close second, especially when the wind catches his hair on the sailboat. But I’m getting a little off-topic here. This movie is sick, very sick. But I hope Travis ultimately realises that the audience doesn’t need him to be anything other than the highly-paid-athlete-followed-around-by-a-massive crew-with-expensive-cameras that he is.
Cheers to a good season coming! These are the only movies that I’ve had a chance to see this year but I look forward to checking all the other ones out too.