The Grand Bizarre
What do you do when your formula turns stale, your strain less potent? You fix it, right? Maybe you press “reset” and start afresh. Maybe you refine, you tinker, you change a few small things, remove a few impurities and see what the result yields.
Last year’s ski movie offering from Poor Boyz Productions, Revolver, was an engaging work. Well shot, well edited, it delivered the goods for the Poor Boyz brand. Yet, there were voices in some quarters that were heavy on the criticism. They either felt Revolver was too much like PBP’s excellent 2009 movie Every Day Is A Saturday, or that it wasn’t as good, or the soundtrack sucked – just do a search on Newschoolers.com and it’s all laid out.
The Grand Bizarre is PBP’s answer to the complaints and the effort is clearly a careful recalibration of the PBP style and not a complete overhaul. How are the results? Well, if winning best film at the 2011 International Freeski Film Festival is any indication, the new strain is rich in all the right areas and is going to easily satisfy the discerning ski movie heads.
Following a wry, mocking, circus carnival side-show opening title sequence soundtracked with Pleasurekraft’s underground club hit ‘Carny’, Bobby Brown gets down to business after literally setting himself on fire (well, in effigy anyway). Burning his current image is a clever bit of self-deprecating commentary after his perfect “100” scores in the 2010 Winter X-Games. He hits some bridges and expands his repertoire into the urban skiing discipline but the showstopper is the triple cork 1440 he lands, proving that he’s not content to let last year’s achievements sit still.
Dane Tudor’s segment follows and he too pushes his limits stomping double rotations off cliffs and shredding some big mountain lines with sluff cascading down around him. It makes for beautiful footage. There’s a big-air segment shot a Keystone backed with Colourmusic’s “You For Leaving Me” that goes beyond huge as the posse including Bobby Brown, Clayton Vila and Simon Dumont stomp and drop jaws. The result is absolutely thrilling.
LJ Strenio has more than a few sequences in the 2011 crop of ski films (including Metahead’s 2011 film Prime Cut) but his sequence in Grand Bizarre is probably his best work. He’s a popular figure on the freeskiing circuit as his kinda goofy antics keep things light but he’s going to get a new level of respect from peers and audiences alike for his skiing after seeing this movie.
Likewise, Bene Mayr, Tim Durtschi, Mike Henitiuk, Nick Martini and Sammy Carlson all deliver awesome work here and there’s a couple of compelling scenes that stand out. Simon Dumont has one of them when he rides a chopped quarter pipe. This pipe requires a little more concentration to master but the payoff is an amazing visual as the helicopters buzz around this snow sculpture. The other is the scene where Cam Riley has a meltdown tantrum as the frustration (and probably the physical pain) of falling on the urban rails pushes him past his limits. He pitches helmets and thrashes ski poles and then when he does nail the slide on a treacherous rail the success seems even sweeter. Funny enough, the exact same scene plays out with Cam Riley again in Stept Productions’ new film this year, Weight (and you still find yourself cheering for him when he slays it all).
With Jeff Thomas’ departure from Poor Boyz to work on his own sports action production company (Switchback, with Mike Douglas) a director’s chair opened up and long time Poor Boyz production manager and editor Cody Carter got the call to move up. Partnering with Tyler Hamlet, Grand Bizarre’s shots glide, pulse, and explode when needed. At 50 minutes, it’s definitely a shorter film than Revolver but it also seems tighter. The action flies and by the end you just want to see it again. And, of course when that happens, you know you have a winner on your hands.
By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail