No one asked me to review my own video, I will admit that. It’s not common practice. If Rollingstone or GQ or the New Yorker had floated the idea to me, I would have said, “Thank you, popular magazine editor, but that’s not common practice. Do keep in touch!”
Words: Michael Kraft
Photography: David Dodge
However, this is no common video. Neither the length, nor the soundtrack, nor the caliber of tricks lends itself to any ordinary scrutiny. Perhaps this is why even some of the most seasoned professional reviewers have taken such peculiar approaches to writing about SE7EN:
“Watching Seven is like cracking open a safe, only to find it crawling with eels.” – Sean Means, Film.com
Confusing! What kind of eels?
Another writes: “Not even bags of body parts, a bitten-off tongue or a man forced to cut off a pound of his own flesh keep it from being dull.” – Elvis Mitchell, the New York Times
It seems to me this reviewer had perhaps unreasonable expectations; may I instead recommend Saw 7?
But even approbatory articles seem to be only technically positive: “This weirdly off-kilter suspense goes well beyond the usual police procedural or killer-on-a-rampage yarn due to a fine script, striking craftsmanship, and a masterful performance by Morgan Freeman.” – Variety
I’m not sure which one of us Variety thinks skates like Morgan Freeman, but even the critical adoration here misses the point entirely (while adding left-field, pointed jabs, such as dating the review as if from 1995, rollerblading’s heyday). Many of the reviews are so specific in their criticism that it’s almost as if they weren’t reviewing a skate video at all. But hey, it’s Hollywood: some people are just clueless!
Today, dear cinephiles, against common practice, I will attempt to provide you with a comprehensive review of my own video, SE7EN, the latest installment in the Buddy Tour series — a series so underground, even to most rollerbladers it remains largely unknown.
There’s an all-star cast this time around! No denying that. Famous and popular as you can get for our budget. Devotees will know them by their famous catchphrases (“Corndog basket!”), but first-time viewers will get to meet a crew of eager-eyed, rollerskating ragamuffins whose personalities — at first glance so incongruent and mismatched so as to be the premise of a reality television show — coalesce into a kind of friendship-Voltron, but never at the cost of each Buddy’s distinctly original and unforgettable persona.
Ian Copp (the tall one), Grant Hazelton (the gem collector), Mike Torres (the diet root beer fanatic), Garrett Slobey (the kinky one), Michael Kraft (the egomaniac/hat wearer), & David Dodge (the literal vampire) [not pictured]
While not the biggest names in rollerblading, these guys are by no means new to the game; each has appeared in numerous skate videos throughout their careers; a few of which some readers may have heard of. As SE7EN progresses, the cast is given space to let their personalities shine, giving a more emotional element to what is otherwise a video of six 30 year-olds chasing each other.
While there are exciting new cameos in this video (Eric Gieg, Rob Squire), certain beloved Buddies from the previous heretical installment, 666, disappointingly, did not make an appearance (Jeremy Lister, Adam Bazydlo, and Thomas Martin come to mind).
All things considered, I would give this line-up an A, but there’s a scene in the video where it becomes clear that most of the cast doesn’t know all the words to Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 global hit, “Torn,” which is embarrassing.
Line-up Final Grade: B+
Perhaps it’s telling that the first word that comes to mind to describe the SE7EN’s editing is “masturbatory” when the previous Buddy video literally begins with a segment of its editor sprawled supine on a bed of dildos and popular skate DVDs, donning a Sriracha pentagram, possibly actually masturbating (to date, his most popular work). And yet, is there a better word for a video that gives 20 minutes of skating a 33-minute runtime?
With what I suppose now seems to be his signature style, the editor (me, Michael) incorporates found & original media into skating sequences for both comedic and atmospheric effect. The video starts strong by establishing a reality show motif, but this pastiche more or less vanishes from the rest of the video after the intro. There are allusions to 666 peppered throughout the SE7EN for Buddy diehards, but, unlike 666, SE7EN’s interstitial segments aren’t consistent enough to carry the video and sometimes end up feeling more like filler.
The editor (again, me) also incorporates video-glitches (apparently now quite popular, according to an Adobe e-mail) and rapid-fire flashing colors between skating, as well as vocal modulation and abrupt, jarring audio cuts (not yet as popular). With the exception of the ever-wacky intro segment, these effects are used more or less conservatively, but, like rainbow sprinkles on a doughnut, these colorful fragments inexplicably, but undeniably enhance the consumptive experience.
There are, however, many odd directorial choices in the video: skating clips often play longer than necessary and it’s unclear if the cuts are stylistically sloppy or someone just missed a day or two of editing school. A preternaturally athletic dog makes a brief appearance early on, but disappointingly never again. The closing segment seems hastily slapped together. One of the audio tracks was already used in Better Than Baseball. There’s also an extended segment of psychedelic visuals in the middle of the video that possibly hearkens to David Lynch and makes me wonder which particular drug this video is best viewed under the influence of. And for a video series whose schtick is celebrating friendship, the editor sure did inject a lot of himself in the video.
Kraft’s (hello!) strongest suit as a videomaker is tone. This, of course, is where SE7EN really shines. The video’s mood fluctuates from between chaotic, cool, disjointed, and old fashioned Buddy Fun, while generally not straying too far from the spirit of the songs that guide it. Truly the most successful parts of the video (and any video, really) are moments when the audio and video don’t just coexist, but actually fuse to create a whole new context for the two. These moments don’t make up the entirety of SE7EN, but there are enough to make for a feelgood, if at times sluggish viewing experience.
It’s no Satanic dildo video, though.
Editing Final Grade: 0/6 Dildos
Inline skating was recorded with a video camera.
Filming/Camerawork Final Grade: One safe filled with eels
It turns out that Cyndi Lauper did not even write Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It was written by Robert Hazard, whose original demo sounds like Dracula had a brief foray fronting a power pop group in the 70s. If you’re like me, you immediately cringe thinking about a man who Freudian slips the lyric “Oh, daddy dear, you know you’re still number one/but girls, they wanna have fun” into a song to be sung from a young woman’s perspective. But fret not, fellow Cyndi fans, because 1) There are multiple kinds of daddies and not all of them are familial (Garrett, the kinky one, can confirm this). And 2) while the song structure is mostly the same, Hazard’s lyrics are actually a little different (and include an extra verse). I’m not 100% on this, but as far as I can tell, the narrator in Hazard’s demo is preoccupied with convincing his parents that it’s chill if the woman (girl) he’s romantically involved with likes to sleep around (and to a lesser extent walk in the sun), because that’s what women should be free to do if they want. Both of these are oddly progressive sentiments for Dracula. However, this is just conjecture. There’s a pivotal line in the additional verse that would probably clarify exactly the intent of Hazard’s original song, but unfortunately it’s sung with a mouth full of blood.
Cyndi Lauper Net Worth: $30 Million
Quite possibly the defining feature of a skate video, and what 100% of mainstream reviews of SE7EN fail to even mention.
For more information about Cyndi Lauper, visit cyndilauper.com
And now finally, the video.
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