A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across the trailer for Jobs? Never!!, a new skateboarding film directed by, and starring, Jim Greco. Through its nefarious algorhythm, Instagram has correctly pegged me as a former skateboarder and distant fan of the sport, and so these kinds of clips pop up in my feed pretty often. Still, this one seemed different. The video didn’t show any tricks–no flashy 360 varial flips, no nollie crooked grinds–just a man pushing through the streets of L.A., a dusty suit jacket flapping open in the breeze.
This was strange enough to entice me to click the link to see the whole film, which I finished in a state of awe. Greco plays a semi-fictional version of himself who seems to be skateboarding as a way of spending his astonishing energy and keeping at bay a stultifying ennui. In the opening scene, he takes a brutal fall, and the rest of the film is a kind of dream sequence from his hospital bed, in which Greco, approaching 40, mulls over his fading career, old addictions, and persistent love of a sport that may one day kill him.
Instead of giving viewers the usual march of technical virtuosity set to the latest trap anthem, Jobs? Never!! emphasizes raw physicality and atmosphere, unrolling these languorous shots of Greco skating through LA, sometimes accompanied by friends, but always in his mind, alone. The meandering 16 mm camera work makes the film seem as if it were discovered in some kind of time capsule, while the old fashioned soundtrack is Lynchian in its contrast with what you see on screen. My favorite scene is a surreal sequence of Greco watching TV in a sparsely furnished loft with a young women who seems to be his girlfriend, then restlessly skating around the apartment and catching air over his refrigerator. And yet, the beauty and absurdity of these moments are laced with a melancholy, existential quality that stays with you long after the credits roll. If Jean-Luc Godard were to direct a skateboarding film, this would be it.
Throughout Jobs? Never!!, Greco appears in improbable steezed, sporting vintage tailoring and gold Supra shoes of his own design. (They call to mind Dorothy’s red slippers.) Just as viewers at home should be warned against imitating his stunts, Greco’s sprezzatura is beyond what most men are capable of–his jackets are so lived in, they’re practically bursting at the seams, his shirts sometimes so tattered they might serve better as rags. Yet all of this wear somehow adds up to a picture of charming insouciance? Many of the film’s best sequences were shot in LA’s Skid Row, but you would never mistake Greco for a vagrant; he has one of those genetically ordained, athletically trim frames–with a slightly weathered, but still handsome face. And Greco’s graceful movements make the weathered state of his attire seem neither an embarrassment nor an affectation. His movie seems to suggest: “This is just the way I dress, dude.”