The latest installment of HBO's excellent documentary series, The Crash Reel, focused on the pro snowboarder Kevin Pearce and the 2009 head injury that interrupted his career. In the tradition of great documentaries, The Crash Reel was about way more than its ostensible subject. Tangents regarding Pearce's rival Shaun White, other athletes who suffered brain injuries (including freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died in 2012), and Kevin's brother David, who has Down syndrome, rippled out of and enhanced the main narrative.

The last of these I liked best — David discusses his life frankly and his frustration with the condition he was born with is similar to Kevin's frustration with the condition that resulted from his snowboarding accident (he went from a coma to limited motor function to thinking he might be able to compete again to realizing that would not happen). The movie is somewhat organized by Kevin's and David's progress in coming to terms with their parallel narratives. It's masterful.

I met the film's director, Lucy Walker, at a friend's apartment this weekend. I would not have watched a documentary about snowboarding had I not had a conversation with the person who made it. When I asked what her movie was about, she told me, "Life." I asked if it was abstract, and she said no and briefly explained the premise. It turns out that her initial description was a fine one.