Less? More like “More”. Seriously. More tricks, more spills, more imagination and most particularly, more new talent. If you follow ski movies, you know director Josh Berman’s style: fast edits and clever, gliding dolly shots where the camera rolls along beside skiers doing insane shit. This is not to say Less is predictable. Being Berman’s 15th film and working with long-time collaborator Freedle Coty in the director’s chair, these guys have built a shooting style that has become the Level 1 trademark. So, if you know their work, let’s say Less will not surprise.
What will surprise even veteran ski movie addicts, is the talent on offer. There are appearances by veterans like Wiley Miller and Ahmet Dadali, who slay it as expected but it’s the newer guys whose development over the past few years impresses big time and it’s the brand new guys who make you sit up and say “what the hell did he just do?” New blood means new vision and new vision is what is takes to put the essential progression into the sport. When you look at it like that, Level 1 have dropped an explosive device into your lap and that’s a crazy way to start off the 2014 ski movie season.
Every segment in Less is strong but standouts like Shay Lee and Magnus Granér (graduates from last year’s Level 1 Superunknown showcase) show the new guys are on it. Will Wesson and Tim McChesney continue to be powerhouses showing strong skiing and straight-up skill. For my money however, the killer sequence is LSM’s (Lucas Stål-Madison) urban sequence where he shows ways to rip through streets, stairs and rails that would make the late JP Auclair proud. His skiing makes traditional city surroundings seem as smooth as the inside of a swimming pool when they are anything but. Somehow the laws of physics and gravity just don’t apply to LSM. I liked what LSM did two years ago in Level 1s Sunny and he’s proving me right here. Tom Wallisch, one of Level 1’s regular greats, might be sidelined with injuries but these new guys are holding it down just fine.
Level 1’s only weak spot this year is the soundtrack. No tracks jump out at you and elevate the shots to another level. That’s kind of a drag because a great soundtrack can make a ski movie eminently re-watchable and that way you really get to appreciate the skiers’ performances without the pain of listening to lackluster music.
No matter, Less shows there’s a continuing bright future in this sport with the progression and enthusiasm these athletes bring to the rails and the booters.
By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail
Watch the Trailer for Less