Rite of Passage
Last week, I wrote about the new movie from Deus and Raen, a nostalgia-laden jaunt through Indonesia. Friday, Reef released their new movie, ‘De Passage,’ which wears its own brand of heavily stylized surf cinema on its sleeve from the get-go. The opening credits’ clear homage to Wes Anderson, featuring distinct block lettering, silhouetted head shots against open landscapes, often with props (Alana Blanchard with a spear gun, Rob Machado with his own hair) set the tone that this movie isn’t going to just jam its surfing down your throat without having a little fun in between sessions.
Over the last few years, there’s been a bit of a trend in surf movies to be a little more avant garde (some would say, ‘hipster as fuck’). Kai Neville may have led that charge with Dear Suburbia’s topless donut-eating sword-holder peppered in between Dane and Kolohe and crew. Dion Agius gulped down a handful of mushrooms and tore through Indo in mostly black and white. With Deus’ “I Had Too Much To Dream” and now Reef’s “De Passage”, it seems there’s a trend towards adding a layer of nostalgia to films. Maybe it’s a reaction to the increasing popularity of web clips with no context and little style, but the cinematography and little touches (the scene titles are always in French) give you the sense that Reef is out to evoke as a feeling as much as it is showcase the surfing (and, let’s not forget, sell a product).
But whereas the Deus movie’s surfing and choice of equipment matches the feel of its style and soundtrack, Reef delivers a whole different brand of surfing. There’s no doubt this is modern performance surfing. Mick is as fast as ever; Mikala gets barrelled out of his gourd; Machado and Rosza are terribly fun to watch. Taylor Knox at JBay should be required in every surf movie from here on out. If Ottz surfed a world tour heat the way he blasts through sections in this movie, he’d make it through a lot more of them. Alana is, once again, unfortunately outclassed, despite the fact that she leads off the section. We all know she’s got some decent surf talent hidden away (not in those tiny bikinis), but the show is stolen from her by the other girls in the section, hammering big turns and coming out of solidly overhead barrels (Tia Blanco’s expression and smile coming tearing out of a Tahitian tube is probably the highlight of that section).
All in all, Reef’s put together a solid surf movie with great style (which should be the recipe for great surfing in itself). They were smart enough to realize cramming their calendar girls in between sections as is their normal wont wasn’t going to help the feeling they did such good work to craft. So until the next time you need to sell me some sandals, au revoir, Reef, merci beaucoup.