The Education of Style
This is not the movie that Tanner Hall needs at this point in his career. After two serious leg injuries and a slow and careful climb back onto the saddle, Hall needs a movie that will showcase his still considerable skills and continue to build on his story as the most influential skier of his generation. He needed something that will remind fans why he’s still relevant and to demonstrate his natural, graceful form. His earlier films fit this framework, coming to a head with the excellent Like A Lion and showing tentative hope as Hall started skiing again, post-injury, in last year’s Retallack. What he needed was a well-shot film with careful camera placement to get the full impact of the ability level at which he and his co-stars Harlaut and Casabon ski.
Instead, what we get is a barely watchable collection of old-school video effects that, in the case of Phil Casabon’s segment, totally detract from the ski skills on display. It’s like watching an old ski movie shot using a convenience store security camera though a kaleidoscope. Was this shot on an iPhone using some 1979-O-Vision filters? And then, on top of the annoying video effects, there’s a sub-plot involving a picnic in the woods with some psychedelic stew producing shamanic visions. Now, I like a good DMT trip as much as the next man, but this skit is too much. WTF?!
Hall’s segment follows and even though his skiing is so devastatingly on point, on first view it looks like garbage. Grainy screens take away the power of the skier’s performance, plain and simple. If you’re making an art film, then make a freakin’ art film but if you’re making a sports action movie and filming some of the best skiers on the planet (and all three of whom are packin’ style), then find a way to make that really explode off the screen. One thing I’ll give to director Eric Iberg here though, he’s chosen to include quite a few helmet-cam shots from Hall while he surfs down pillows – that is one thing I cannot get enough of. Terrifying and exhilarating and that’s while sitting on the sofa watching it on a massive screen – like some kind of dream. Bloody hell in reality. It almost makes up for all the scenes of Hall chilling in that ski mecca, Jamaica.
And then to cap things off, Harlaut’s segment loads in with a vignette with E-Dollo himself passing words of career guidance to a younger skier in the best 8-Mile fashion. Jeez, can we get past this Eminem on Skis thing? I mean, I know this vibe is the gangster jibber clique’s stock-in-trade but shit’s getting old. Even rappers and hip-hop heads grow up. Hell, Jay-Z’s image has grown from what it was when he started. Ice-T’s image has morphed too. It’s how one grows as a public persona and keeps the audience interested in your skiing. Mercifully, the picture quality tightens and you actually get clear shots of Harlaut seriously shredding in the park and in competition.
I feel like I’m dispensing too many film-making rules here. But, this movie is coming from Inspired and I expected more. It’s not like this is Eric Iberg’s first movie. He’s done better than this and is capable of more than this. And don’t tell me Tanner’s just keeping it real because the only “real” here is “real” disappointing. Dare we hope for something better next year? By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail