Friday, June 03, 2005

Lords of Dogtown

Lords of Dogtown (Director: Catherine Hardwicke)

Hardwicke made Thirteen, a highly acclaimed movie that I didn't much like. Written by former Z-Boy Stacy Peralta. A documentary was made a few years ago called Dogtown And Z-Boys that covered this very material.

Skating flicks are all about balls and dickswinging, just like anything involving incredible stunts or amazing physical feats that get the girls all giddy and the money and fame come pouring in. It's interesting to see the pioneers of the sport, what circumstances led them to this kind of recognition, and in a way, the movie reminded me a little of Boogie Nights--but that's way ahead of where I'm going to place this film.

The Z-Boys of the film are mainly Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk), and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch), who begin as surfers and join up with surf-store owner Skip Engblom (Heath Ledger, who you will see compared a lot to Val Kilmer if you read more reviews). Their inventiveness on skateboards in the 70s was well ahead of the times, and their skills led to all the perks you see discussed in the above paragraph. Of course, there's a rise, and there's a fall, but a fairly bright future.

What I loved about the film is the low-angle skating scenes. I'm sure this is an interesting "making-of" topic on its own, because those are brilliant. Where the movie starts to fall apart, and this is the Boogie Nights comparison, is when the movie shifts from portraying these "outlaws" as the sellout famous guys that they become, and the consequences involved with that. Nights started falling a little apart when Dirk Diggler gets into drugs and the porn industry is moving into video. It's either a function of the story, or filmmakers have a hard time making those downfalls on par with the high points. In a whirlwind montage, all sorts of things change that I felt needed a little better explanation. The movie starts to lose the focus of all its characters.

That said, I thought everyone did a fine job here. I liked Ledger, who sounds like he's using the trick of having something in his mouth while he talks. I liked Emile Hirsch a lot, too. He's one of those young actors that, with time, we'll probably see him in something on a larger scale where he can really shine. The skating is cool. But like I said, when this movie shifts into another gear, it starts to crumble and become unenjoyable.


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