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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday, April 19, 2014 - Edition No 893 

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LORDS OF DOGTOWN

SYNOPSIS:
In 1975 Venice Beach California, Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk) and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch) are three mates who hang out at the local surf-shop run by pot-loving Skip (Heath Ledger). Skate-boarding is a way of life, and when Skip forms the Zephyr Team, they begin to compete in local skate-board competitions.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's been four years since Stacy Peralta's documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys told his story of the pioneering skate-boarders in the mid seventies. Now, based on those events, he has fictionalised that time by writing a feature film canvassing the era, the mood and the sport. Peralta is close to his subject, and director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) has brilliantly captured the ambiance, although the appeal is strictly limited to skate-board buffs. There is no real emotional or dramatic curve, just an insight into the upside-down world of kids from the wrong side of the tracks who use their natural talents, nerve and instincts to follow their dreams.

The reality Hardwicke creates is the star of this dense drama in which kids from this tough neighbourhood escape from their lives and turn their hobby of skate-boarding into a profession. It's hard to know how far from the truth Peralta deviates, but casting and performances are excellent as we get a great sense of the times and the world of these kids. The film achieves a realistic sense of the 70s with the music, the long hair, the crochet bikinis, hippie clothes, and promiscuity. This was the era when Cher enjoyed the height of her fame. John Robinson portrays the long-haired blond Peralta as sweet-faced and innocent and Emile Hirsch is the energetic Jay Adams, who always tries to help his mother (Rebecca De Mornay) make ends meet. Victor Rasuk (Raising Victor Vargas) is a standout as the ambitious and aggressive Tony Alva, whose destiny eventually leads him to become skateboard World Champion. Heath Ledger, sporting a large set of teeth, side burns and shoulder length frizzy hair could be doing a Val Kilmer impression, as he portrays the unlikeable, always stoned, surfing shop proprietor Skip who calls everyone 'bro'.

Dogtown is the name of the place in Venice Beach California, where Peralta, Adams and Alva manoeuvre and negotiate the curves on their skate-boards - in streets and up the sides of the neighbourhood's empty swimming pools. These kids pushed the boundaries of the sport forming a foundation for the extreme sports of today. I found the never-ending circle of skates, booze, drugs and girls rather repetitive and boring, but skate-board fanatics will lap up every intense moment.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LORDS OF DOGTOWN (M)
(US/Germany)

CAST: John Robinson, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, Heath Ledger, Rebecca De Mornay, William Mapother, Julio Oscar Mechoso,

PRODUCER: John Linson

DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke

SCRIPT: Stacy Peralta

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Elliot Davis

EDITOR: Nancy Richardson

MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chris Gorak

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 25, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Enteratinment

VIDEO RELEASE: December 7, 2005







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