Days Of My Youth
It’s been two years since Matchstick has released a full-length ski movie. Last year’s offering, the excellent documentary on the life of Shane McConkey, took Matchstick off their annual delivery schedule. So while Days of My Youth has the broader scope made easier with a two-year production schedule, where the crew can travel to Peru, Alaska and British Columbia to get footage, it does not seem like a “big” film because of the globe-trotting. Instead, its “big” feel comes from the all the philosophizing about the value of a life well spent, a life where the decisions made are those that will provide the deepest, most meaningful happiness for the individual. In the same way that McConkey was a meditation on the meaning of life and death, Days of My Youth continues that approach, reflecting on the meaning of life as a spiritual quest in that transcendentalist/Henry David Thoreau school of 19th Century American literature. It’s replete with philosophical voice-overs and transitional segments with a white-haired grizzled mountain man (the hermit from “Walden”, no doubt), played by ski legend Bobbie Burns. That’s not to make it sound too heavy, because it’s playful as hell with its fast edits, goofing around and wicked shredding. It’s just interesting to see Matchstick, one of the heavy-weights of the ski movie production world in the we-have-more-helicopters-than-you-do type of ski movie, get all deep on us.
Matchstick’s current dedicated core group of skiers rip some great lines and provide bangin’ big mountain footage. The highlights this time aren’t so much the helicopter shots but the POV helmet cam shots delivered as Richard Permin, Banks Gilberti and Cody Townsend tear through the trees in the Snowbird/Crested Butte/Revelstoke in-bounds sequence. You get more of the same as they float down Alaskan spines in a later sequence. There’s a positively poetic segment leading up to Bobby Brown’s gig on the big air kicker, all nicely sound tracked with Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra’s “Kiss The Sky”. Some might call that maudlin but it works well with the overarching theme of the movie. Townsend, a staple skier for Matchstick since his brilliant work in “As I See It”, delivers the goods again in this outing culminating in a blaze through a rock-sided couloir that’s only about six feet wide at one point. You hear him say “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done!” No shit, bro. It looked insanely scary even from my couch.
Days of My Youth is not Matchstick’s best film. Though it’s shot well and edited brilliantly, you can say that about pretty much all of their last five films. It does not introduce any exciting new, young talent in the way the In Deep showcased Sean Pettit. But it’s a solid offering to the ski movie world and it’s still great to watch a ski movie on Blu-ray instead of watching edits on YouTube all day. By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail