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Dogtown and Z-Boys (R)
Sony Pictures Classics
Official Site
Director: Stacy Peralta
Producer: Agi Orsi
Written by: Stacy Peralta and Craig Stecyk
Cast: Zephyr Skateboard Team, their admirers; narrated by Sean Penn

Rating: out of 5


I love skateboarding. If I do say so myself, Iíve become quite good at the sport, mastering the vertical and street courses alike. A braggart, Iím not, but Iíd be willing to bet that if I were to go up against some of the best amateurs in the world, Iíd leave with a medal or two. Now, understand that when I speak of my prowess on four wheels, Iím referring to my skill at Playstation 2ís seminal classic, Tony Hawk 3: Pro Skateboarder. Man, at that game, I am a tower of dominance. Should I ever be placed on a real skateboard and asked to do actual tricks and whatnot, wellÖ letís just say the paramedics would be earning their pay that week. However, despite the fact that I have the natural grace and balance of a dumptruck, I am absolutely enamored of the sport, no the art, of skateboarding. Itís fitting then, that I should find myself in a theater watching Dogtown And Z-Boys, a new documentary from skate legend Stacy Peralta about the early days of skateboarding.

The scene is the 1970s in a place called Dogtown, which is really a section of beach along the California coast. A group of misfit teenagers banded together and, with a few mentors, formed the Zephyr Surfing group, founded by surfboard makers Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom. While surfing was the origin of the group, they soon turned to skateboarding, not out of love for the sport, but simply to have something to do between waves. Using their surfing knowledge and skills (admirably good for them at such a young age) they pretty much abandoned all traditional rules of skating and invented their own style. In 1975, the world was introduced to the Z-Boys (as they called themselves) at the Del Mar Nationals, sponsored by Bahne Skateboards. They took everyone by surprise by winning several of the competitions. It was only a few steps before they became cult figures, as famous in the world of skateboarding as Michael Jordan is in basketball. A lot of their fame is due to one man, a young photojournalist named Craig Stecyk, who documented their exploits for Skateboarder magazine. Fortunately for us, Stecyk had the presence of mind to videotape much of their practices and their lives, leaving a remarkable record of the rise of the Z-Boys skate team.

What makes this movie such a treat to watch has really nothing to do with the content. You could show me badly scratched, out-of-focus prints of people skateboarding and Iíd be at least mildly interested. No, the thing that makes Dogtown And Z-Boys so much better than your average skate video is the sure, quirky direction from Peralta. Peralta, who has the distinction of not only being one of the star members of the Z-Boys squad, but of also discovering current Skate God Tony Hawk, is an amazingly evocative documentarian. The style he uses could be called an aping of the MTV flashy editing school, but really itís so much fresher than that. Rare it is that I walk away from a movie noting fondly the editing and sound mixing, but what lies within this movie is truly a marvel. Using handheld digital, old 16 mm, and a variety of other stocks, Peralta weaves together a tapestry of enthralling interviews cut with breathtaking skateboarding footage that really must be seen by a wider audience than it will get. In a genre thatís so often lacking of fun and excitement, Dogtown And Z-Boys is a breath of icy cool air, refreshing all of us with its style, excitement, and true, undying love for the sport.

óClinton Davis

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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