I remember ski movies before Nimbus Independent’s Idea came out. I know that to think of aesthetics in a ski film was like worrying about global warming at a monster truck rally, a misplaced affectation. There were no videos in “crew” format, and nobody dared upset the accepted ratio of park : powder : contest footage : urban. It was a really good film in its own right, but compared to what had come before, it’s a classic.
Given their position as a breath of fresh air in the ski industry, I was willing to forgive some of Hunting Yeti’s faults. Sure they felt the need to include quasi-intellectual reflections on style, war, peace, and everything else your favorite college pothead would want to talk to you about. They had to tell us that they’re a crew who finds nirvana in the mountains, and they don’t like the daily grind of other lifestyles. It was repetitive, but they were such a departure from the norm that it made sense for them to hammer the point home with a bit too much force.
In Contrast we have the Nimbus crew’s third full-length product, and I’m sad to say nothing’s changed. The cardinal rule of “show us, don’t tell us” is broken from the outset. The monologues have grown longer and less organic. We have the riders sitting on a white chair in a borderless white room pontificating on: learning, creativity, crew, and adventure. The tired platitudes of skiing as passion, self-expression, and bonding are uttered once more. Even the guys seem bored of it.
As a visual product the movie is about what you’d expect from Nimbus. It’s about 90% backcountry, with one park jump for good measure. They’ve taken a break from the crew format, and gone with more traditional rider segments. The segments are nicely shot, aside from the tendency to film everything from a mile away (especially step-ups). The skiing is fluid and creative, we really can see all their theories about style, in action, without being told repeatedly.
If you like movies with tons of park and urban, then this is not the film to spend money on. It’s nearly all big mountain stuff, and for a solid quarter of the movie you are watching someone’s head move through a cloud of kicked up powder. If powder and nature get you going, you’re going to get a fair share of what you like.
Moral of the Story: There’s definitely beauty in it, but I wish they’d let us find it for ourselves.