Who Would’ve Though We’d Actually Miss This: Our Review of ‘Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game’

Who Would’ve Though We’d Actually Miss This: Our Review of ‘Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game’

An elaborate Jack joke, plays hanging Jean Chrétien in effigy, The Matrix and its philosophical implications are on the tip of everyone’s tongue; 90s nostalgia is alive and well in the phenomenally titled Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game. If the 10s were the decade of ubiquitous 80s revival, then the 20s are almost certainly set up to be the decade where the 90s are viewed through rose-colored glasses. It’s simple arithmetic really; nostalgia goes in thirty-year cycles, and thirty years ago was 1990. Grunge has entered the chat.

If these 90s nostalgia products are going to be as good as Ted Stensons’ feature debut is, I’m almost certainly going to be less irritated by whatever the upcoming 20s answer to Ready Player One is. At the same time, I have a difficult time imagining a world where this is the case. Events Transpiring is really good, and in a way that few nostalgia films are. For starters, it’s creative; the hyperlink structure providing ample room for humor. But what separates this from the more puerile films of its ilk, is the way the nostalgia is a coating, a flavor so to speak. This ain’t about simply remembering the thing, but rather, it’s about something real.

That “real” is multi-layered. The surface layer is a deeply funny hyperlink teen comedy. There are several stories here, all of which vaguely revolve around the titular High School Basketball game. Our combatants are the Middleview Ducks and their much superior opponents who have one, no two, no a whole starting five who can dunk and destined for American scholarships. But assistant coach Brent (Andrew Phung) is certain that victory can be achieved if only head coach Mr. Davidson (Paul Dowling) will let him run Phil Jackson’s famed Triangle Offense. Meanwhile, the school’s radical theater group debates methods of protest. A tamer sit-in, or radical ceremony feature buckets of blood and possibly streaking? Oh, and there’s a dog on the loose after deadbeat basketball referee Ken (Jay Morberg) accidently let her loose. If you can imagine, hi-jinks ensue.

Aesthetically, there a real Roy Andersson vibe to Stenson’s work. Lots of static shots and hard cut based humor. This doesn’t nearly have the same existential vibe to it, but it definitely has the same delightful humor. There’s one gag in particular involving two real sad looking teens trying to blow-dry thaw a bucket of frozen “blood” that had me in stitches, largely because of the cut back to it. Where many would fail at emulating Andersson, Stenson succeeds in large part due to his impeccable frame composition. He is always aware of what needs to be at the edges, and how movement into and out of the frame provides Events Transpiring with a sense of life. There’s not a single camera movement in this, and yet, it feels alive.

This humor serves to undermine everyone in this film. The nostalgia here is almost entirely based around hammering home the idea that “we were all such dorks weren’t we”. At one point, two characters start arguing about Camus’ The Stranger in the locker room. Joel (Benjamin Arthurs), a scrawny basketball player who seems very disinterred in playing, tries to convince just about everyone who will listen to him for more than five seconds that The Matrix is an existential masterpiece. Few people take themselves seriously, which only serves to make those who do seem more ridiculous.

No one takes themselves as seriously as Andrew Phung’s Brent does. Phung, of Kim’s Convivence fame, is probably the most experienced actor Stenson has, and thus, the rookie director leans on him to provide a major performance. Phung comes up clutch, perpetually referencing Phil Jackson. It’s humorous as hell, especially when Phung finally does get his moment to run the much-ballyhooed Triangle Offense. When his “moment” finally arrives, he cannot impose his will upon it, and it kills him—slowly, and then all at once.

It’s in interrogating this lack of control that brings up the second, more beautiful layer, of Events Transpiring. Stages of our life move fast; High School is hyper sonic. We try to hold onto these moments to control them. It’s foolhardy, but human. When we hold on to these moments, we only serve to turn them into nightmares. It’s in letting go that our true glories are found. Who would’ve thought we’d actually miss the events that transpired before, during and after a high school basketball game? I sure didn’t, until I did.

Editor’s Note: Check out our interview with Writer/Director Ted Stenson…right here.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
Comments are closed.