EXISTENTIALIST SURF CINEMA
Derek Rielly interviews Alex Knost on the emptiness of the modern surfing experience as revealed by Al’s new film Beach Blanket Burnout… Many years ago, there existed a French cinematic movement called La Nouvelle Vague (The New Wave). A continent and a cultural lifetime away from the conventions of Hollywood cinema, New Wave directors like […]
Derek Rielly interviews Alex Knost on the emptiness
of the modern surfing experience as revealed by Al’s new film
Beach Blanket Burnout…
Many years ago, there existed a French cinematic movement called La Nouvelle Vague (The New Wave). A continent and a cultural lifetime away from the conventions of Hollywood cinema, New Wave directors like Jean-Luc Goddard chose to emphasis the absurdity of life by telling mostly nonsensical stories, supposedly swollen with symbolism and allegory.
As Mr Goddard said, “Films are the only things by which to look inside people, and that’s why people are so fond of movies and why they’ll never die.”
It was as awesomely pretentious as it sounds. Which is why my heart skipped a crazy beat when I took possession of Alex Knost and Tyler Manson’s low-budget film, Beach Blanket Burnout. It contains every Nouvelle Vague convention: cigarettes, kissing, leather jackets, girls with short dark hair and tattoos and polka dots, red wine and a passionate ending filmed from two different angles. The best, and most existentialist part about it, is the surfing doesn’t start until minute 22. How chic is that?
And the soundtrack is out of this world: music by Jonathon Richman, Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman and Leonard Cohen fill the gaps.
I suggest you find it (try RVCA) and buy it. You’ll discover the meaning of love and hate.
Stab: I want to be totally honest here, even if it leaves me open to a justifiable and totally indefensible claim of worshipping another man, and say that I haven’t been this excited by a movie trailer since Caligula came out on video… AK: What… what… since what came out?
Stab: Caligula, oh man, don’t tell me you haven’t seen it? The movie version of the Gore Vidal classic? AK: Oh, I must’ve missed that one.
“Look at the American economy. Everyone wants their clothes cheaper, their food cheaper, their rent cheaper. So, guess what? The clothes get made in China, the food is made of low-grade, hormone-pumped, shit-meat preservatives, and the houses are built on top of each other. That’s my generation’s culture. All my friends, they notice but don’t care. We fill our days with our nights and our nights with social lubrication and drug-fuelled, conversation.”
Stab: In a nutshell, a Caesar of Rome goes mad, fucks everything including his horse and sister, executes just about everyone in his coterie with his awesome decapitation machine, and ends up on the end of a disgruntled subject’s sword. And, by sword, I mean the steel weapon, although with this movie you’d never know… Anyway, tell me, little genius, from where does your inspiration spring? AK: Lately, like, more than ever I’ve realised a few things about the current situation of our human race. We are all here today and before we know it we are dead, gone and forgotten. In between now and that dying day you have the opportunity to do whatever the fuck you want. This simple idea has been tainted to its near extinction. The common thread of idea and ideas, in general, have been brushed aside by distractions and bruised by egos and government. The confusion is that everything is all figured out for you when it’s not. You know, get up go to work, only associate yourself with certain types of people and live in fear of those who critique you and your ideas, ideals or motivation. It took me 23 years to realise, you know, fuck it, I have nothing to prove, because there is no proof, there is no pudding. There are people, ideas, death and the drugs that distract you from all of it. So where do you want to put your money?
Stab: My money is firmly in property, despite the recent hiccup. Now, tell me all about the plot of this movie. AK: Well, first, it wouldn’t have been possible without my friend Ty-Buds (Tyler Manson). He had just as much to do with this as I did. It’s hard to make a movie with two people involved. But, to be honest, I wish I would have gone further with it. I think to really nail what I set out to do it could have been better – it’s an average film in my book. I’m kinda proud I did it, it’s just most movies I like or want to watch are way better than this one.
Stab: Talk to me about the movie’s protagonist, Buster Olson, and his journey in the filmAK: I guess the sub line says it all, “The hangover of a pop culture.” Y’see, surfing is a giant, multi-billion dollar extremesport industry. Everything is a billion-dollar market. Look at the American economy. Everyone wants their clothes cheaper, their food cheaper, their rent cheaper. So, guess what? The clothes get made in China, the food is made of low-grade, hormone-pumped, shit-meat preservatives, and the houses are built on top of each other. That’s my generation’s culture. All my friends, they notice but don’t care. We fill our days with our nights and our nights with social lubrication and drug-fuelled, conversation. Igniting our morality with hopeless teenage criticism on ourselves and each other. It’s the hangover of a pop culture led by sweater’d teeth and the money in the hands of those we are taught to admire, envy and respect.
Stab: Should I wait for the sequel? AK: I am writing it right now, for better or worse.
Stab: You’re very sixties, very Newport, very Vampire Weekend, very boho. Do you trawl through movies and vintage racks for styling, either for your clothes, moves or overall style? AK: I wasn’t around in the sixties, but from what I’ve heard it was an interesting time – when people almost came together and accomplished something, but then got too fucked-up, and the government stomped them out like ants at a picnic. But it’s ironic and inspiring. I think that time is about to come again. Within this next generation something will give. The bomb is gonna go off.
Stab: Have you ever been tempted by Nazi paraphernalia ala sixties Malibu? AK: Tempted, yes! But only when I was far too young and ignorant to realise the cost and gain of shock value through the negligence to learn from humanity’s flaws.
Stab: Wow, that’s almost as existential as your movie. You seem like the sorta guy who’s into Miki Dora. Tell me. Da Cat was either, a, an international man of mystery or, b, a leeching putz whom you couldn’t trust with your wife or car. Discuss. AK: I met him once, so its hard to say. It seems that today in a generation of anything but free press, we should admire his heyday ability to shrub the media hand jobs and just jack himself off.
Stab: Speaking of, can you tell me your thoughts about surfing culture circa 2008? AK: Its somewhere it’s never been. People are incredibly talented and fearless. I have respect for the athleticism of these surfers. I am not really one of those people and I am okay with that. It affords me the time and ability to do other things.
Stab: What sub groups of surfers are there? AK: At 23, I am out of the loop and don’t really know.
Stab: How would you describe your sub group? AK: People that don’t want to have real jobs.
Stab: If you could be another living creature or thing, what would it be? AK: I’d be a girl.
Stab: What is your current motto? AK: My friend Matt McClure say’d something of the sort, “What you are doing right now is what you are doing with your life, so figure out what you want and get it!”
Stab: Pop culture, I love it! AK: Thanks. And keep stabbin…
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