Skate Gnus: Oscar Season Continues

It seems remiss of me to write about anything apart from all the amazing skate videos being released this month.

There’s been stuff popping up all over the place—TJ Rogers’ surprisingly enjoyable Blind part; Tanner Van Vark’s wild minute for Real; and of course the Sk8Mafia video which includes the most heartwarming switch hardflip in history. A couple of releases of the past week stood out—one for its rewatchability and the other for its undeniable gnarliness. And of course, each houses a couple more contenders for that elephant in the room: Skater of the Year. I still think it’s Mason’s to lose (he brought out yet another part the other day—a behind the scenes type thing for HUF, but along with the rest of you, I welcome the continued grade-A viewing pleasure.

Converse Cons’ Seize The Seconds

There’s an air of ‘90s simplicity about Seize the Seconds; it recalls the unfussy perfection of classics from the World Industries era such as Tim and Henry’s Pack of Lies or the Spitfire Video.
I understand filmmakers want to get creative and introduce more cinematic elements to the genre, but it’s a tough sell because the skate video was perfected all those years ago, almost by accident. It’s a simple formula: shit-hot skating from a spicy team set to a solid soundtrack, plus a few slams and a couple of laughs. That’s not to say that success is assured; there’s nowhere to hide in a simple skate video. It’s like how the measure of a good chef is their plain omelette.
French filmmaker Ben Chadourne’s latest effort for Cons, Seize The Seconds, is perhaps the best omelette to emerge in this memorable year. It’s a doozy, and exhibits a light touch from Chadourne that perhaps wasn’t there in Purple, his last full-length for Cons that felt a little too heavily curated. Perhaps it’s the format: two full parts plus a few tricks from everyone else. The video stands up well to repeated watches, revealing nuances as you become more familiar, like a good album. It also makes you want to skate.
Alexis Sablone blows the doors off with her best part to date, exhibiting bouncy purposefulness, a perfectly ambipedal flip technique and an amazing ability to compress both before and after her tricks that my knees are extremely envious of. That she skates to Breeders ‘Iris’ is the icing on the cake. Sablone’s part has a couple of tricks that are possibly homages or references to her earlier work or Elissa Steamer’s, but I won’t know that until she answers my emails (hi Alexis!).

A series of montages follow, showcasing the deeper cuts of the Cons team, which must’ve been a nightmare to coordinate but comes off feeling like a collection of footage of whoever’s been ripping for the past six months. It’s a heavenly few minutes punctuated by numerous highlights—Jake Johnson footage is always incredible, Brad Cromer seems to be part-helium, and Sammy Baca nearly steals the show as per usual. I mean, Tommy Guerrero even gets a clip.
A Ben Raemers dedication is heartbreaking and sensitively done, leading nicely into the curtains, which is, of course, Louie Lopez. The likeable Lopez has been at the top of the heap for a few years now—he narrowly missed out on SOTY with his West End part from 2017. But this is his best footage yet and sees him moving into a new absurd, rubbery zone in which anything is possible. His song is cool, too.

Deathwish’s Uncrossed Video

I must admit I’m not really the Deathwish ‘type’. Though I have enjoyed the work of the team over the years, in particular Jim Greco and Erik Ellington, the whole idea of the brand seems a bit forced for my tastes. Yeah, we get it: you’re a gang, killing yourselves out on these streets, living for the clips, etc. But the longer I sat through Uncrossed, the more I felt like maybe these guys are the best. The vibe is infectious. Even the three times handshake thing is endearing.
Taylor Kirby has his most bionic showing yet, getting towed into every massive trick with his lion’s mane changing lengths dramatically in every clip. His part is awesome.
I was always on the fence with Jon Dickson (call me shallow, but the whole Almost Famous look doesn’t really do it for me) but his recent Emerica part proved he is a lightfooted flip genius. This part confirms.

New recruit Julian Davidson puts it down, mainly on his old sponsor’s boards. Word is he only had a couple of months to film for the video, so we’ll forgive him this time.
Another new recruit Victoria Ruesga follows. (Side note: I had to look Victoria’s name up. I can’t wait for names to be included in videos again.) She shreds and seems cool and down with the whole Deathwish thing, and I’m willing to overlook whatever issues I have with skate brands recruiting one token female in this case.

There’s a sort of sad montage in the middle of what seems to be a trip to a bedraggled New York. As surreal as it is, Covid-era NYC footage from people who don’t live there feels sort of opportunistic and vaguely insensitive, like a smash and grab.
Sydney transplant Jake Hayes bashfully displays his mammoth pop and sticky-footed flippery in a sick part that feels the most ‘Baker’ of the video, giving rise to weird comparisons in my head like, ‘He’s like a hybrid between Antwuan and Bryan Herman!’ Hayes’ ender made me spit chips on my keyboard. Neen Williams does a bunch of heelflips and smiles a lot.

Jamie Foy’s shit is incredible. He basically takes on a bunch of handrails that were made iconic by the last generation of handrail warriors (Arto Saari, Geoff Rowley, Heath Kirchart et al) and does unthinkable crooked/feeble variations on them with his tongue stuck in his cheek while wearing a Red Bull hat. His final trick manages to combine all of his trademarks into five seconds. There’s nothing subtle about it, but that’s sort of why it’s so rad.

Pedro Delfino

There’s nothing subtle about Pedro Delfino, either. His somewhat worrying trademark is concussion, and there’s plenty of that sort of stuff here. He’s like a subscription to Thrasher magazine in human form. After a hairy lipslide down a gnarly rail, he rolls into oncoming traffic and gestures aggressively toward his crotch, and it seems fine, somehow.
Delfino’s final sequence set to Blondie’s ‘Fade Away and Radiate’ (excellent music supervision, by the way) is a thrilling couple of minutes of life on the edge, real stuntman shit. And possibly, along with Louie, a late threat to an ‘already in the bag’ 2020 SOTY trophy.

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