Pixel Skate Voodoo ( DVD reviews )


kick-flipping einstein's skullAye Aye, Tony Hawk as Talking Head, Rodney Mullen as Talking Feet, and Talking Head as Wandering Feet. In other words: 3 new DVDs through Stomp films ( stomp.com.au ).

Video Game Invasion:
The History of A Global Obsession.

Probably more famous now as a virtual character within his skateboard games, Tony Hawk makes an ideal choice as the lead wooden narrator for this documentary ‘chronicling the rise of video games from its primitive beginnings to the multi billion dollar industry it is today’. The history of video games is a fascinating one that bleeds into our obsessions with technology, play, art and identity – and is surely deserving of a much better treatment than this. There are some interesting moments on here, but mostly it’s been bludgeoned together by someone with a copy of a 1st year doco-film-school rulebook, hell-bent on adhering to telling the story exactly the way stories are supposedly meant to be told. Tony Hawk is a bad actor, but he’s an even worse compere – but to give him credit he comes across much better in other documentaries than this and was probably forced to follow some strait-jacketed script that would have most of his skating friends throwing their decks at the screen. Othr Talking Heads include : Atari’s Nolan Bushnell, Electronic Arts’ Trip Hawkins, Activision’s David Crane and Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamato – and they have some funny anecdotes and footaeg to share, but ultimately this could have been so much better – evident by the crappy lame-assed packaging the DVD comes in.

Almost Round Three
Rodney Mullen on the other hand doesn’t say much in this, which is probably good – it’s hard enough keeping up with his steadily shifting feet above a board spinning and flipping in various directions and landing sometimes on its side and sliding before flipping, sometimes upside down and sliding before flipping, and sometimes on landing 4, 2 or 1 wheels. Rodney Mullen owns flatland, and this is much anticipated DVD mostly because of his last incredible video part screened next to Daewon Song’s. The cinematography is lush, soundtrack is alternately fat and pumping, and there’s a stack of extras including a 3D component – which they provide a set of 3D glasses for with the disc. There’s a few skaters spotlighted, but ultimately, it’s all about trying to figure out what kind of invisible string Rodney has tied to his feet and board that allow him to flip, grind and slide off and onto all manner of obstacles. If you haven’t seen a skate video in a while, this one is stupendous.

The House Of Life
David Byrne was the enigmatic frontman for Talking Heads who barraged through the eighties with the anthem ‘We’re on the Road to Nowhere’, usually wearing a giant shoulder padded outfit – and we’re talking really, really art-performance-sculpture-giant here. Turns out he also made this quite poetic audiovisual exploration of ‘Candomble’, an African spiritual cult in Brazil. Commissioned in 1989, it splices together sacred bells and drums, ritualistic *actual* trance dance footage and an original score recorded by David Byrne with Brazilian musicians in Bahia and New York. It’s a mesmerising if somewhat confusing film, the surreal imagery of the large African Brazilian women pirhouetting and trancing out while wearing weird formal Victorian era costumes kind of hard to comprehend at times. Watching it with David’s audio commentary made a lot more sense, and makes it a lot richer experience. Another fine addition to the impressive Plexifilm label ( distributed through Stomp in OZ).

jean poole

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