Used to be, one could throw any group of, oh, say, half a dozen or so fanatics sharing the same interest together and before long, there’d be a ‘zine pertaining to that particular interest on the newsstands, no matter how obscure it might be. Now, of course, that same concept has spread to the internet; full of dime a dozen web pages all conspiring to shove the venerable ‘zine off to the recycling pile. Which is why it’s not at all a stretch to believe that a website exists for the rather cryptic sport known as “Vert.” In this wry documentary short of the same name, directors Kirk Hostetter and Evan Mather explore this maybe real/maybe not phenomenon.
Not to be confused with skipping stones — “Skippers don’t bleed,” leading Vert aficionado Hostetter huffs, proudly displaying a lacerated palm — the sport seems to involve, well, hurling rocks as high and as vertical as possible into the air and having them plop into the water with as little splash as possible. Hostetter spends a considerable amount of time discussing the perfect Vert rock while an unidentified groupie — presumably Mather? — waxes poetically about the game and Hostetter’s passion, skills, and what makes him the world’s best Vertophile. The film also introduces us to Damian, an intensely unlikable rival Verter who openly scoffs at Hostetter’s prowess.
“Vert” is an amusing send-up on arcane sports and hobbies and the people who take them way, WAY too seriously. In a brilliant stroke, we never really learn the details about the game itself; the presumption from its adherents that since the game is their life, it must be everyone else’s as well.
Hostetter and Mather play the whole thing with an utterly believable poker face; not pausing for the laugh track and thus selling the audience on the authenticity of this ridiculous game — or at least sewing enough doubt that we buy into it anyway. Sign me up for “Vert Weekly.”!