Dir. Ross Cairns
In ‘Lives of the Artists’, Ross Cairns takes three different, but in his view, related 'artists’. These are not painters or sculptors, but a British and Irish trio of surfers (Tom Lowe, Fergal Smith and Mickey Smith), a French free-riding snowboarder (Xavier De La Rue) and a hardcore band from Watford (Gallows).
Cairns’ belief is that these disparate creative practitioners, through their commitment, dedication and the passioned execution of their various disciplines are true artists. They are able to communicate in a powerful yet abstract way. This thesis, here beautifully illustrated in high-definition and often in slow-motion, is often found in more cerebral soul sports publications, and when accompanied by such stunning cinematography is persuasive. However, Cairns’ exposition is undermined by his subjects.
To be an artist is to communicate, and all three subjects are communicative, both in their chosen fields and in individual pieces to camera. But to be an artist, as opposed to an aspiring artist, there must be something to communicate, a life lived. Unfortunately, as so often in soul sports and contemporary music, the candidates offered here know too little of life to be genuine artists.
That’s not say that the talents of those on show are not exemplary, and in time they may go on to excel and transcend their individual disciplines, but only Xavier De La Rue is able to suggest something other than committed obsession. In one chilling sequence De La Rue talks of his renewed resolve and love of the mountains after a near fatal avalanche. It’s a moving moment, especially when accompanied by footage of the 'chute’.
Ultimately the film fails to prove the theory. It is a beautifully illustrated and argued point, but perhaps due to budget or sponsors involvement the triptych is uneven. This is unfortunate as Cairns is able to move effortlessly between the disciplines and carefully constructs his narrative. A flawed, but engaging film.
2010-02-07 23:28:39 GMT permalink
Usually practitioners get better with age (writers, conductors, visual artists, directors etc..). However the shelf life of sportsmen and pop culture musicians (to take the Adorno definition) seems to be relatively short, with a very narrow ‘sweet spot’. They are in many ways the pursuits of 'young people’.
Perhaps this is why a certain type of person (usually men) obsess over sport and (usually obscure) music. It’s a way of holding on to (and in many ways enhancing) a lost adolescence.
2008-07-25 07:56:00 GMT permalink