20 June 2006

the search for animal chin




this one takes me right back. i started skateboarding in my driveway when i was about 8. my older brother matt was a skate rat and used to ride one of the several backyard half-pipes, so of course i started to ride too. i put my back wheels in a crack in the driveway and learned to ollie that way. and i used to watch "savannah slamma" and this movie over and over and over -- so much so that our vhs copy is fucked now as a result -- all you get is static.

that was formative for me, and i realize as a result that skate videos informed part of my notion of what looks good on film. when i shoot -- and you can see this if you've seen "10 months" -- i like big open frames with one or two lines of clean action, i like long tracking shots similar to fisheye follow filming, i like montages. these are all hallmarks of skate videos and are used extensively, and i'd be remiss to not admit that its part of what i look for when i watch stuff, and part of what i try to emulate.

i feel good about being a part of skate culture, however admittedly minor it is -- i can ollie a curb, and that's about all i got. but i am working on the effort boards video, slowly but surely. and its fun to do, and i admire skate culture. its a force, influencing shoes, fashion, teenage behavior ("jackass" started as the "big brother" and "cky" videos). and look at all the crossover stars: stacy peralta, spike jonze (oscar nominated!), jason lee, bam, tony hawk.

ok, onto "animal chin". the movie itself is no great shakes. but its charming in a throwback way, in that it is a low-budget ape of some classical hollywood conventions -- the road movie, using exotic spots and globetrotting and silly comedy. its also notable for probably being the first skate footy cut using match-on-action. in addition, there's all kinds of other filmic techniques that you usually don't see in skate videos: establishing shots, cross-cutting or reaction shots in a scene, even POV shots! its no surprise that stacy peralta ended up making "real movies", because his interest was clear from the get-go.

this movie probably isn't for anyone not into skating, unless you happen to want to see a 17-year old tony hawk, but for me its a piece of nostaglia, one of those movies -- like "goonies" or "smokey and the bandit" -- that i can watch and be instantly trasported back to being a kid.