If there were Beard Awards for eye candy (which is, I suppose, what you could call the Oscars‘ design and technical achievement categories), Spike Jonze would have his tables booked months in advance. I don’t mean “candy” in the sense that what he does is somehow insubstantial; he works in the pop idiom is all, and his enormously influential accomplishments therein are no less important to art than those of people like Takashi Murakami or Jeff Koons. The “candyness” of his work comes from his ability to execute something inherently simple absolutely impeccably. (Write down a description of anything he’s done in his career and look at it: One or two sentences, tops.) It’s within that minimalism, though, that he excels. If anything, he elevates each of the few choices he makes into brilliance by knowing exactly how to frame them.
Those are the kinds of skills that come in handy for a director. I’ve anxiously awaited another Jonze-helmed feature for awhile now, having seen what he can do with a good screenplay; I guess in the interim this new shoe commercial/documentary/skate porn project Fully Flared will have to do.
Jonze shares directorial billing with Ty Evans and Cory Weincheque and it’s clear the engine of the project is shoe manufacturer Lakai, but for now the lion’s share of attention has focused on the film’s introduction, which is unmistakably Jonze.
He’s not breaking any ground here, artistically–the title sequence was obviously seized as the perfect opportunity to expand upon the concept he used so winningly in his video for Wax’s Southern California–but that doesn’t keep it from being narcotically watchable, and the core conceit (that 45 seconds of crazy shit is even better when you stretch it out to five minutes and add a bitchin’ soundtrack) is certainly not going anywhere, nor is it particularly revolutionary.
What I respond to in the Fully Flared intro is that, like other well-executed slow-motion shots of extreme physicality, is that it’s more effective than almost anything else at lucidly explaining the complex mechanics of instinctual movement. As a follower and practitioner of dance, I am essentially obsessed with observing and investigating the body’s capacity for and inherent knowledge of movement, as well as identifying complex spatial geometries in their most elemental and natural forms. It doesn’t hurt that sk8rs are frequently above-average in the looks department, but it’s watching people move that really gets me excited.