During the height of California's suffocating drought in the mid-1970s, quiet, long-haired Peralta (Elephant's John Robinson), cocky Alva (Raising Victor Vargas' Victor Rasuk), and self-destructive Adams (Emile Hirsch) began transferring their ocean-skimming techniques to the city's blacktop and empty swimming pools, resulting in an almost instantaneous phenomenon that thrust them onto the covers of magazines, into lucrative endorsement contracts, and onto the set of Charlie's Angels. Hardwicke's film (written by Peralta) presents this real-life tale with a mixture of exuberance and cautionary wariness, depicting the benefits (sex, money, fame) and pitfalls (jealousy, clashes over girls, obligations to their less-than-supportive parents) of these adolescents' sudden rise to superstardom. Thanks to Elliot Davis' bleached-out, nostalgically hazy cinematography (which mirrors the pulverizing propulsion of street skating by twirling, spinning and sticking low to the ground) and liberal use of thunderous '70s tunes by Hendrix and Sabbath, Hardwicke's period piece has a groovy, hard-charging dynamism. And as in her last film, the director - via Peralta and Adams' rivalry over Alva's sister Kathy (Nikki Reed) and Adams' difficulties at home with his irresponsible mom (Rebecca De Mornay) - laces such heady, sun-dappled optimism with an undercurrent of looming menace.
Continue reading: Lords of Dogtown Review
Dogtown refers to a downtrodden section of the Venice and Santa Monica beach communities that was home to the Jeff Ho and Zephyr Production Surf Shop in the mid '70s. The shop also served as a meeting place for a group of misfit local teenagers, whom the store's owners, Jeff Ho, Skip Engbloom and Craig Stecyk, have assembled into a fearless unit known as the Zephyr Skating Team. Collectively and individually, these kids would revolutionize the sport and culture of skateboarding.
Continue reading: Dogtown And Z-Boys Review
While Dogtown was a historical document concerned with chronicling the circumstances and socio-economic conditions that created its particular subculture of rough-and-tumble skaters in the 1970s, Stoked takes place in the 1980s, well after the sport was established, though still on the fringe on mainstream culture. Its hero, if you can call him that, is Mark "Gator" Rogowski, one of the hottest vertical skaters in the late 1980s. A charming, brash, death-defying antihero, he not only outperformed many of the other skaters on the pro circuit at the time, but also turned his popularity into a managed media circus. Captured on video and film, and featured all over the ads that filled out the pages of skate magazines like Thrasher, Gator made himself into a poster boy for a sport that had more to do with freedom and attitude than regimented athleticism. He even scored a small part in the 1989 Christian Slater skater classic, Gleaming the Cube. Before the age of 20, Gator was making over $15,000 a month.
Continue reading: Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator Review
It begins with a peppy history of surfing, tracing its origins from ancient Polynesia to 19th century Hawaii, where missionaries secularized the sacred sport, and into the early 1900s, when Hawaiian Olympic athlete Duke Kahanamoku introduced the sport to Californians. Riding Giants really starts, though, with its look at Hawaii's North Shore in the 1940s and 1950s, where some adventurous early surf giants rode the massive waves at now-legendary places like Waimea Bay. Captured mostly through some talking head interviews with big wave legends like the engagingly vulgar Greg Noll and herky-jerky home movie footage, Peralta means for this period to look like a golden age - and he succeeds. The surfers captured here are carefree blonde rebels who couldn't care less about actually rebelling, they just want to get on the waves; the flip, fun side of the Beats, they chucked the 1950s status quo and lived a primordial existence at the end of the world, with no jobs and no money, catching fish to eat and surfing all day every day.
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Without the Z-Boys, there would be no X-Games. The very concept of extreme sports was born on the hot asphalt of a dilapidated south Santa Monica in the 1970s, when a group of teenage surfers took up skateboarding to keep busy in the afternoons when the waves died down.
The inventive, kinetic, spirit-capturing documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys" recounts with vivid enthusiasm the history of how those kids led a mini-revolution in a street sport, dismissed by the mainstream, that continues to influence youth culture to this day.
Skateboarding had been around in some form since the 1950s, but it wasn't until the invention of urethane wheels -- replacing the metal rollerskate wheels that had been jury-rigged onto planks of wood for 20 years -- that skateboards became more than a novelty.
Continue reading: Dogtown & Z-Boys Review