WE: A Collection of Individuals
Despite having terrific big mountain sequences in their films in recent years, Poor Boyz still has a rep as a park and urban ski movie company. It’s about time that conception was put to rest. With WE: A Collection Of Individuals, Poor Boyz delivers their most well-rounded film to date. Their big mountain segments with Pep Fujas, Dane Tudor and Mike Henitiuk mesh terrifically with the pounding urban and electrifying park segments featuring Bobby Brown, Jossi Wells and again, Poor Boyz regular Dane Tudor. Opening with Brown throwing a switch 9 and joined by Joss Christensen, Banks Gilberti, Alex Schlopy, Sean Jordan and Karl Fostvedt, editors Tyler Hamlet and Cody Carter weave together footage from a half dozen sunny day park shoots and then underpin it with Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”. With the skiers throwing insane big air jumps and with the hiphop pushing the vibe into the red, the result is classic Poor Boyz ski porn. It’s here that you see how Hamlet and Carter have stepped up the editing with a style that cuts to extreme slow motion in the middle of the skier’s flight. It was a technique that was hinted at in Simon Dumont’s diced half-pipe sequence The Grand Bizarre, last year’s Poor Boyz offering. It’s one of the advantages of using cameras with a very high frame rate: when it’s slowed down there’s still enough data to render absolutely beautiful images. That editing style is perfect for the style of skiing here as the tricks are so intricate and fast, this technique ensures the viewer gets every drop of juice out of the scene.
Next up is Pep Fujas attacking huge steeps in Alaska with a haunting underscore from Fever Ray and dizzying heli shots from the bird above him, trailing him down the mountain. It’s a different vibe altogether from the park sequence but the skiing is astounding and it is clear evidence that Poor Boyz has got a deep enough bench of talent and the willingness the put together a movie that will be, in essence, all things to all people.
And the scope of the skiing stays huge into Leigh Powis’ segment where he delivers some blistering, bruising urban. He hits long rails, high walls and closes out with a beautiful inverted run underneath a Whistler overpass. Unfortunately, the pain Powis experiences is huge too, as he dings himself with a season-ending torn ACL while trying to land a trick after dropping off from 2 stories up.
In keeping with the idea that these ski movies also serve as sports broadcasts keeping the faithful up to date, there’s short segment showing Sammy Carlson working out on the road to recovery after he tore his MCL at the Winter X-Games in January 2012. I hate seeing the segments where the dude gets badly hurt but watching the physio training for the come-back is inspiring least of all because it gives you the juice you need to kick up your own training for the season ahead.
The segment on the The Kids which is the crew of Sean Pettit, Joe Schuster, Riley Leboe, Ian “Chug” Cosco and Mike Henitiuk among others, epitomizes the overarching theme of this movie which is that you can have your own style and push your own limits but it’s a whole lot more fun when you’re doing all that with your friends. The Kids look like they’re having a good time horsing around on the mountain which is all cool for a minute but things get serious again as Henitiuk steps up to ski some back-country and big mountain lines. As the flamenco guitar touches of Andrew Oye’s “Matador” provides the soundtrack, the vibes seems out of place for about two seconds until you realize that Henitiuk’s agility matches that of a bullfighter in the ring gracefully avoiding a violent goring or, worse, death. By the end, with his last run down an ice-covered rock cliff with just enough snow on it to provide skiable pillows Henitiuk tempts fate –take a look to his right side as he’s about 100 feet into the run and tell me you didn’t lose your stomach – but his skills are supreme and he stomps it. I could get all Hemingway and Death In The Afternoon on you and provide a dissertation on the big mountain skier’s life dealing with fear and facing it with courage – but that’s an essay for another day. Suffice to say, that one run of Henitiuk’s is among the standouts of WE: A Collection Of Individuals.
Perennial Poor Boyz favorites Josh Stack and Charley Ager deliver in their segments, as they always do, with balls-out backcountry skiing in the case of the former and his patented style switch landings in deep powder in the case of the latter.
Cam Riley, Sean Jordan and Clayton Vila’s segments bring the whole Stept Productions urban skiing vibe to this movie, which I can seriously appreciate. It gives editors Hamlet and Carter a chance to work their magic on that vibe and it adds nicely to the movie.
Bene Mayr, having been a Poor Boyz regular in Every Day Is A Saturday (2009), Revolver (2010) and The Grand Bizarre (2011), is now joined by his LOS film company partners Paddy Graham, Tobi Reindl and Thomas Hlawitschka. Their segment is short, and fast and works like a good punch in the face. However, under-pinned with Turbowolf’s screaming hard rock which is very similar to what you’d hear in any LOS film, you get the feeling this is more like an advertisement for an LOS film in the middle of WE: A Collection Of Individuals. Honestly, you’re better off going to the source and seeing Nothing Else Matters or Hurt So Good where you can see the brilliance of LOS director Andre Nutini for yourself.
The new talent on display this year from Poor Boyz is Ketchum, Idaho’s Karl Fostvedt who’s been seen in the last two movies from Toy Soldier Productions. He hits a radically shaped kicker that lifts him high vertically and then drops him onto a quarter pipe that redirects back the way he skied in. This is exactly the type of adventurous new talent one expects to see from a top line film company and he’s a welcome addition here. Having won “Rookie of the Year at the 2012 IF3, others are taking notice too.
Sean Pettit closes out WE: A Collection Of Individuals in a sequence that is normally expected in a Matchstick ski film – big lines, big talent and beautiful shots. I’d expect nothing less from the two-plank wizard – he’s one of the best skiers on the planet.
WE: A Collection Of Individuals has a great feel, sick footage and a well-chosen soundtrack. It makes you anxious for snow and when that happens in the autumn, then you know the ski movie has done its job. By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail