December 8, 2009 George Foster

Creams of the Christmas Crop: DVD Reviews

Grit Flick:
Got this sent all the way over the pond to me in the States the other week….that’s a testament to the amount of hype that’s starting to surround Al Lee’s films at the minute – can the golden boy and darling of film festivals the country over do no wrong?

To my eyes he can. His latest DVD is just another piece of shit in a veritable diahorrea of offerings over the past few years. For me it’s all gone downhill since the mighty ‘Set in Stone’. ‘Psyche’ – apart from the McClure bit – was bollocks, ‘Onsight’ wasn’t bad admittedly, by all accounts ‘Asgard Project’ is a joke and now there’s ‘Grit Flick’. The problem is that either no-one notices or they’re just scared of him and his reputation to go about writing the truth about the piss-taking that is going on, with him as the ringleader. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that it’s not because no-one notices, that would be to assume that we’re all morons and my mum says i should never assume. 

The joke has well and truly been on us, as the climbing-media consumer, in believing all these glowing reviews that follow him round like a bad smell, throwing our money at the self-confessed saviour of climbing movies, blindly following the words of Mick Ryan and Colin Wells – who have been duped as much as we have. Fuck this isn’t in any way meant as a personal attack on Al at all so i’d better stop a bit as it’s in danger of being so. I’ve met the guy a couple of times and he seems cool enough, but then with a company by the name of ‘Posing Productions’ is it any wonder that some of this ‘fame’ goes to his head??

To the film………Al has a very recognisable style when behind the camera and he’s shit hot at it. Ian Burton – the other dude – has a very distinctive style too and he’s just shit at it. To borrow and paraphrase someone else’s words his default position is to sit at the top and let the camera roll idly on his lap getting situations where you have no idea what part of the body you’re meant to be looking at. For the most part the film, split into ‘main events’ (or something lame like that), is just a medley of shots sewn together by the hand of a spacker. It doesn’t flow in the slightest and perhaps Al knew that, choosing to add some obscure moments of perceived comedy going for a cheap laugh, which are about as funny as wanking over your dad. 

It’s £12.99 more than you should ever have to pay for it and frankly, aside from a couple of points, i’d be embarrassed to put my name to it. Also does Al have tourette’s or something? The reason i ask is that he feels inclined to spray the place down every chance he gets during his films. Shut the fuck up! Same goes for you Creamer, you’re boring, or at least you appear boring, if you’re not i apologise, but in any case i’m afraid i couldn’t watch more than a minute or two of that particular ‘main event’ cos i kept nodding off. Where’s the tension? It was obviously lacking in ALL segments, even the good ones, which is why the 3 ‘good’ bits can only be described as ‘okay’ at best.

Ryan Pasquill’s bit (spelt ‘Pascal’ in the film – that’s just rude Al, and not the first time it’s happened in his films) had the potential to be very good but was again spoilt by the lack of creativity in camera work (Buurtonnn…..was that you??) and shite comedy clapping. John Dunne’s bit was funny….but only cos he’s such a twat, go eat a pie. Widdop Wall with Jordan Buys was far and away the best bit and if it had all been like that this wouldn’t be such a vile and vitriolic review. It was well shot and i went away liking both Jordan and his wife Naomi (only cos she’s a hottie i’ll admit) quite a lot as it was the only segment where any sort of character development happened – THIS IS IMPORTANT IN A CLIMBING FILM. Ben Bransby’s highball at Rylstone was also pretty good – but then it was shot by Rich Heap so that’d explain why.

Rant over. I KNOW i can’t do any better but it’s pretty hard to do much worse. Al WTF???


Why are you still reading this?? Piss off and either watch ‘Progression’, as you obviously already own it, or get down to Asda and camp out till the morning to get your hands on a copy – if they don’t stock it they soon will.

Rest assured ‘Hard Grit’ it’s not at your stratospheric level yet…..but it’s well up there.

What a film. For me it’s perhaps the best climbing film i’ve seen, if not then like i said it’s up there with the best. Not much to say wrong about it, the music is excellent, cinematography is far and above anything we can get close to in the UK certainly, and probably better than anything anyone else is doing in the US – yes even you Peter Mortimer. To me it flows very well with a clear subject, the progression of climbing, and interesting characters. Wow it’s everything ‘Grit Flick’ isn’t (in case you hadn’t noticed this is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde post – i’m sorry).

I think it’s also the first time that competition climbing has been covered extensively – let’s just forget ‘Hard Plastic’ ever happened. Now i’m not one for competitions but it was one of the strongest sections on the DVD – an Ondra amongst a team of Sharma clones. There’s only one Fatty Arbuckle moment and that’s got to be the Rocklands bit, don’t get me wrong it’s awesome and does well to introduce Tommy Caldwell (Time Child) before his single feature on big walling, but watching guys crush and making V14 look utter piss is a bit on the boring side as you just can’t comprehend any of it.

The highlight for me has to be Time Child high up in the heavens thumb-hooking his way up back-to-back 5.14s and V13 cruxes 1000m off the deck. It’s WILD and easily the best footage – courtesy of Corey Rich – that i’ve yet seen anywhere, on a parallel with the North shore footage in ‘Roam’. Time Child is a total beast and i’m glad it’s as good as it is cos i was beginning to get into the mindset of ‘not another TC Yosemite segment – yawn’.

Another gold bar amongst gold bars was the footage of Sharma working his 9b project in California. How fucking funny is it to watch him getting shut down like the rest of us and bitching and whining about it like the rest of us. What a hero.
KJ, A-Hol and Steven Segal in the UK whipping out their cocks and pissing over everything we have is brilliant, disspelling the myth and exposing the gritstone aura for what it is. Publicly mocking our E-grades is refreshing and schooling us in the art of unpretentiousness is just what the doctor ordered.
I could easily go on and on about this film but what’s the point, all it’ll be is just endless word-wanking waxing lyrical about the greatness that lies on a little shiny disc. The best is can do is refer you back to the top of the review……now piss off the lot of you, haven’t you got homes with DVD players to go to??

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