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STEP INTO LIQUID

SYNOPSIS:
Documentary filmmaker Dana Brown explores contemporary surf culture around the world. Interviews with legendary surfers, including Jerry Lopez, are intercut with footage of professionals and amateurs searching for the perfect wave. Brown's travels take him to Ireland, where the American Malloy brothers teach Protestant and Catholic children to surf off the coast of Donegal. Texans ride waves created by supertankers, Wisconsonites catch the once-a-year swell on Lake Sheboygan and daredevil "tow riders" chase 60-foot waves 100 kilometres from the California coastline. Uniting all participants is their connection to the sea and the sense of freedom that surfing engenders.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Cowabunga dudes. Step Into Liquid, is, like, totally awesome. In 1966 Bruce Brown made the all-time classic surfing documentary Endless Summer. Brown's talent pool back then numbered a few thousand dedicated surfers. Thirty six years later, surfing is practiced by millions of devotees and Brown's son Dana has followed in the old man's footsteps by documenting the most brilliant, fascinating and eccentric practitioners of the ancient Hawaiian pastime. If it's meaningful philosophy you want, look elsewhere. The interviewees here don't have much to say beyond "it's really cool" and "surfing is my freedom", but what else is there to say about such a beautifully simple sport that just about anyone can at least master the very basic steps.

One of the pleasures of Step Into Liquid is its embracing spirit. As far as Brown's voice-over commentary is concerned, surfing is about pure enjoyment and the testimony of his interview subjects reinforces the point. When Brown asks her opinion on who the best surfers of the day might be, 6-times world women's champion Layne Beachley doesn't bat an eyelid before replying "the one who's having the most fun". That sense of fun and the smiles it brings are what you'll take away from this film - along with images of the most spectacular waves and daring riding you've ever seen.

The sight of maniacs riding specially modified boards on 60-foot waves 100 kilometres from the San Diego coast and the astonishing cutbacks and zig-zag moves of rising Australian star Taj Burrows are nothing short of breathtaking. On the flip side there's the incongruous sight of Irish children (Catholic and Protestant) being taught to ride by a trio of American brothers in Donegal and an ex-soldier and his son showing the locals how to make the best of a six-inch ripple on a trip back to Vietnam. For my money the Texan surfing fraternity wins the novelty stakes with their dedicated pursuit of supertanker waves.

Step Into Liquid isn't a major achievement in documentary form but succeeds admirably in its primary aims of dropping our jaws with superbly shot footage of the world's greatest exponents and making us understand the life-long passion surfing inspires among the legions of everyday riders. It's the kind of film that makes you want to run straight to the beach, pick up a board and plunge in. There's not much better recommendation than that.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

STEP INTO LIQUID (PG)
(US)

CAST: Documentary with Rochelle Ballard, Shawn Barron, Layne Beachley, Jesse Brad Billauer, Taj Burrow, Ken Collin, Ami DiCamillo

PRODUCER: John-Paul Beeghly

DIRECTOR: Dana Brown

SCRIPT: Dana Brown

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John-Paul Beeghly

EDITOR: Dana Brown

MUSIC: Richard Gibbs

PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 15, 2004

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 11, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

VIDEO RELEASE: August 18, 2004







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