Published in Whitelines Magazine Issue 94, January 2011
VOL. 4 - 5*
Tadashi Fuse, formerly of Burton fame and now one of the YES team, is nothing short of legendary in Japan. Heart Films is his pet project – a chance to ride with friends, have some fun and put the unique snowboard scene of his home country on the map. Vol.4 is, funnily enough, his fourth film.
WHO’S IN IT?
Tadashi Fuse, JP Solberg, Romain de Marchi, Akifumi Hiraoka, Takafumi Konishi, Futa Adachi and lots of other Japanese riders whose names you can’t pronounce.
The film isn’t divided into traditional rider sections as such, but takes us on a rambling tour of Hokkaido (the powdery north island) Honshu (the powdery main island) and Whistler (the powdery resort in Canada). Yes, there’s a lot of powder in this movie. Standout moments include Romain losing at a local drinking game and getting progressively more drunk, and pretty much any of Tadashi’s awesome runs through the trees.
Do not watch this film unless you are prepared to rob your gran and book yourself on the next flight to Japan. Seriously, the conditions on display here are sickeningly good – it looks like they basically ride powder every single day over there.
Hearts Vol. 4 is, though, a breath of fresh air in the sometimes boring world of shred movies. It is honest, it is fun, and above all else it makes you want to go snowboarding more than anything else in the world. Apart from Tadashi, the riders in this film are pretty much unknowns to most of us, but that doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. Through the documentary format and a few handy subtitles you get to know their different personalities and realize that, polite and exotic as their culture is, they are mad for the shred just the same as us. There are some genuinely hilarious moments, such as the scene where one of the boys asks his mate to do a backflip “while shouting your name" and we see him flying over the camera going “Akkeeeeeeeeeeee!"The addition of JP Solberg and Romain – who turn up for the YES tour of Japan - does help things, as we kind of see the country through their eyes and share their pie-eyed confusion during endless Japanese drinking games. Party animals they might be, but it’s pretty obvious that they too have been humbled by the warm local welcome and blown away by those unbelievable conditions. Plus, they know how to get the job done with a hangover, meaning the film contains some genuine bangers to go with that class-A white powder. This is our kind of snowboard flick.
HOOKED - 3*
Pirate Movie Productions
Under the guidance of director Basti Balser, the Austrian based Pirate crew have been capturing the finest European snowboarding since 2003. What started out as a bit of fun shooting friends on Super 8 has grown into something much bigger, but their essential underdog appeal and a commitment to 16mm film remains. Hooked is their eighth main film.
WHO’S IN IT?
Tyler Chorlton, Gigi Rüf, The Helgasons, Sani Alibabic, Arthur Longo, Bjorn Hartweger, Danny Larsen, Weirni Stock, Stian Solberg, Elias Elhardt and more.
We’ve got to say Tyler haven’t we? Silky smooth skills from the UK representative. Juuso Laivisto catches the eye with some perfectly stomped powder tricks, and Halldor Helgason’s ender is just mind bogglingly good.
In the days of the internet and global snowboard media, you sometimes wonder if the ‘European movie’ is an outdated concept. Isn’t it all just a collection of local scenes? The Pirates are sticking doggedly to the idea of pitching the cream of the continent’s talent together, however, and you have to admit it still offers something unique. For the likes of Gigi, it means a break from the American spotlight to shoot with old friends; for other riders it gives them a platform to step up to the major league; and on the filming side, Hooked has an arty, almost old school feel you just don’t get across the pond anymore (you get the feeling Basti’s favourite film growing up was Volcom’s The Garden, such is his passion for that warm cine film look).
Riding wise this latest flick doesn’t disappoint, with a good mix of rails, powder kickers and creative stuff e.g. spins into rockslides! There’s pretty much nothing but A-grade bangers in here. Disappointingly though, Tylerfails to be given a full part for a second year, leaving the WL crew mumbling about Euro bias and which sponsors might be paying what. He’s certainly got the skills for a bigger role. The film also suffers from its cheesy pirate theme, which has surely been stretched to breaking point; the riders-infancy-dress skits at the start of each section remind you of a bad porno film. There’s no doubting the quality of the action, but the section-after-section format feels a bit stale and after you’ve seen a few double corks into powder you’ve seen them all. This is an interesting time for the Pirates: they are no longer small time but not yet in the Absinthe league, and in a digital age they are flying the flag for the traditional analog film. Don’t get us wrong, this is a classic, beautifully shot movie, but where exactly are they heading?