Dogtown and Z-Boys

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS

7/10

dir : Stacy Peralta
(documentary)
cin : Peter Pilafian
edi : Paul Crowder
mus : Terry Wilson, Crowder
mins : 91

Infectiously exuberant chronicle of LA’s mid-70s skateboard scene. Director Peralta was one of the key members of the legendary ‘Z-Boys’ team that operated out of the Zephyr surf/skate shop in a run-down corner of Santa Monica, and here he alternates between grainy footage of the gang in their prime and interviews with the survivors. Though the feel is engagingly rough-edged, the style is very MTV – conventionally unconventional – and there are moments when it all gets a little too back-slapping for its own good. It’s like Peralta can’t stop telling us just how cool him and his pals were back then, boasting of their influence and f****ing cool they were – the expletives are deleted, which is odd, but in keeping with a film that’s disappointingly muted on anything involving sex and drugs.

The Z-boys probably were as seminal as they claim, but there’s still an element of blowing their own trumpets about the enterprise, especially during the bizarre moments when Peralta appears to be interviewing himself. Modesty, of course, was never a factor in this street-tough ethos, and neither, it seems, was loyalty. We’re blithely informed that, as soon as the Z-boys attained a degree of wider fame, they immediately cut loose from the Zephyr management, like the cocky boxer who thinks nothing of discarding his wheezing old trainer as soon as he’s got a title-bout sniff.

But its sheer energy makes Dogtown compulsively watchable, and it stands comparison with (and would make an excellent double bill alongside) The Filth and the Fury,   the fine Sex Pistols documentary that covered much of the same time-frame and proto-punk ideals. The soundtrack is poundingly well-chosen, and there’s a fortuitous abundance of 70s footage to choose from, though it’s irritating that so much of it is played slo-mo. This nimble brand of kickass kinesis is always best at full volume, full speed.

25th August, 2001
(seen Aug-22-01, Cameo, Edinburgh – Film Festival)

now check these out

1 Dazed and Confused – it’s 1975, and school’s – out – for – ever!

2 Ghost Dog:The Way of the Samurai – RZA soundtrack elevates Zen-assassin tale

3 Kids   – seminal if overrated NYC skatepic

by Neil Young
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