Dogtown and Z-Boys - Classic Film Pick
Skateboard-legend-turned-filmmaker Stacy Peralta rips open the paradigm of the documentary form in much the same way that he and his young Santa Monica Zephyr Competition Skate Team revolutionized skateboarding in the mid-'70s. Peralta's use of tough rock music from the likes of The Stooges lends an infectious tone to his ingenious use of photos and vintage archive footage. "Dogtown and Z-Boys" swells from the late '50s invention of skateboards, built from planks of wood with roller skate wheels on them, to a group of disenfranchised California kids who copped the tactile style of Hawaiian surfer Larry Bertleman to create an approach to skateboarding that transmogrified the sport into something personal and sublime. The team would eventually consist of Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Chris Cahill, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, John Muir, Stacy Peralta, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml, and Allen Sarlo,
Nostalgic, thrilling, and culturally explosive, the film examines the story of a small group of aggressive lower class kids mentored by surfboard designers Jeff Ho, Skip Engblom, and Craig Stecyk (owners of the Zephyr Surfboard shop) to develop a skateboard style that was all their own. Adjacent to the surf shop stood the remains of a once grand amusement park called Pacific Ocean Park (a.k.a. P.O.P.) which contained a protected cove where perfect wave breaks propelled local surfers through a slalom of jagged pilings until it was demolished in 1973. It was here that the Zephyr team of skaters honed their "Dogtown" craft amid a group of fiercely territorial surfers. A drought in California led the group to discover disused empty swimming pools as an ideal vertical terrain to push the limits of their abilities. Their fluid style naturally lent itself to creating breakthrough maneuvers that inspired generations of skateboarders. The key to the film is photographer Glen Friedman's and writer/photographer Craig Stecyk's pictures that Peralta examines with fetishistic attention under Sean Penn's pitch-perfect narration.