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DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS

SYNOPSIS:
In the early 1970s, the sport of skateboarding had so waned from its popularity in the 1950s that it was virtually non-existent. In the Dogtown area of west Los Angeles, a group of young surfers known as the Zephyr Team was experimenting with new and radical moves and styles on the water. But since the surf blew out by mid-morning, this group turned its attention to skateboards in the afternoons. With the development of urethane wheels, skateboards became faster and more maneuverable. Soon, lead by surf shop revolutionaries Jeff Ho and Craig Stecyk, this tightly knit and protective group were experimenting with new forms on the land, including skating dry swimming pools in the midst of LAís worst drought on record. When competition skateboarding returned in 1975, the Z Boys turned the skating world on its head.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Directed with as much style and verve as the Zephyrís revolutionary riffs and verticals, Dogtown and Z-Boys is a truly fascinating case study of just how an underground sport ascended on the world. Director Stacy Peralta, one of the twelve original Z-Boys, does a great job of pinpointing the exact milieu and attitudes that made skateboarding so attractive and the Z-Boys such an insular band of outsiders. With Sean Pennís narration, we see how the group began as ultra-aggressive surfers from broken families that would resort to violence to keep outsiders off their beach. Jeff Ho was their unpredictable leader and father figure, and his surf shop was both a refuge and breeding ground for talent. Urban outlaws, they were attracted to the similar qualities of the relatively new sport of skateboarding, the first boards of which were called Sidewalk Surfboards. Itís amusing to watch original footage of the groupís relatively archaic maneuvers in the 70s, even though todayís interviewees from the group speak of how cutting edge they were at the time. These guerrilla sportsmen used asphalt playgrounds, aqua-ducts and backyard swimming pools to practice their slides, twists and cuts. Most amazing are the scenes where they would drive though the laneways of rich seaside homes spotting backyard pools. They would skate them for a day and leave, and if a pool was full, they would come with equipment to empty it. It was here that Tony Alva would be the first to go vertical Ė over the lip of the pool Ė in a move that still defines the sport today. Alva would become a world champion skater and the first to market his skills and start his own skateboard company. It was a move that signalled the fragmentation and eventual demise of the Zephyrs. This is a terrific slice of Americana, and although a little long, itís a touching tribute to the gang that started it all.

Review by David Edwards:
At first blush, the story of a group of skateboarding kids from the wrong side of the tracks seems like an odd choice for a movie, even if it is a documentary. But in Dogtown and Z Boys, director Stacey Peralta (one of the original Z Boys himself) taps into a great American (indeed, universal) tradition. Itís the tradition of Babe Ruth, Charlie Parker, Jackson Pollock and Mohammed Ali Ė to take a field of human endeavour and to create something new and remarkable from it. The film reveals how the likes of Jay Adams and Tony Alva, kids with problems and pent-up aggression, managed to transcend those difficulties and to make a success of themselves by doing what they did best. Of course, as with any great American story, thereís a dark side to that success; and the film reveals how at least some of the Z Boys found that attaining success was often a lot easier than maintaining it. Peralta injects a punk sensibility into the film, using found footage, archival images, interviews (mostly shot in black and white), and clips from TV shows of the time. Sean Pennís narration is a big plus, as is the wonderfully constructed soundtrack. The whole thing comes together to create a compelling picture of the brief time during which the Z Boys were at the top of their tree. You have to question however whether, nearly 30 years later, some of the participants (and perhaps Peralta himself) arenít looking at things through the rose coloured glasses of nostalgia; and whether it isnít just the tiniest bit self-indulgent. Those reservations notwithstanding, Dogtown and Z Boys is a brilliantly made film that will entertain, educate and uplift.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILERS

DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS (PG)
(US)

DOCUMENTARY
NARRATOR: Sean Penn

PRODUCER: Agi Orsi

DIRECTOR: Stacy Peralta

SCRIPT: Craig Stecyk and Stacy Peralta

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Pilafian

EDITOR: Paul Crowder

MUSIC SELECTED BY: Stacy Peralta and Paul Crowder

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Craig Stecyk

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 3, 2002







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