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Sub-titled "The Birth of Extreme", this documetary takes a look at the transformation of skateboarding from its former image as a land-bound pastime for surfers to its status today as an extreme and acrobatic sport in its own right. Starting from the California surf community of Dogtown, the film follows the evolution of modern skateboarding through it's 70's heyday, its decline during the 80's, and its eventual (and highly lucrative) return in the 90's. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
When skateboarding became more than nose wheelies and handstands.
Anyone looking to learn more about the development of skateboarding should find Dogtown and Z-Boys adequate research material. This is not to be confused with Lords of Dogtown, that sorry Hollywood attempt to cash in on the success of the original Dogtown revival.
Directed by Stacey Peralta, a former Z-Boys himself as well as pro skater and mastermind behind the 80s Bones Brigade, and co-written with skateboarding photojournalist Craig Stecyk, this documentary traces how a group of surfing kids from Southern California's mean streets (known as Dogtown) who formed the Z-Boys skateboard team (actually there was one girl--Peggy Oki) revolutionized skateboarding. The film contains interviews from nearly all of the Z-Boys (Chris Cahill's whereabouts are unknown) with the most noteable being bad ass Tony Alva and the youngest, Jay Adams, who's talents (along with Perlata) seemed to transcend the rest of the teams. There are interviews of the team's (and the Dogtown shop) founders, surfboard designer Jeff Ho, Skip Engbloom, and Craig Stecyk. There are also interviews of folks like Tony Hawk (obviously), Ian McKaye (Fugazi), and Henry Rollins, who were young kids in the 70s when Dogtown was making it's influence on skateboarding (skateboarding was a whole other context in previous years as the documentary explains).
It really shows you not only who the Dogtown team was and how they formed, but why their style changed not only skateboarding tricks (pool skating became immensley popular, and thus gave way to vert skating), but also facilitated the sport (though not into the extreme commercialism it is today) as more than just the fleeting fad it had been earlier as these surfing kids who's waves ran out in the early morning needed ways to spend their time and eventually got into skateboarding. The days of Russ Howell and Alan Gelfand were long over as the Dogtown, at least through the publicity of their skate team, paved the way for the new generation of skaters. Because Dogtown got all the attention, they were able to push skating to the next step.
It's a great documentary in the way that it is put together, though Stacey Peralta always knew how to do this even when producing the Bones Brigade mini movies/skate demos like "Ban This" and "Search for Animal Chin." Narrated by Sean Penn, the film is accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack, contains lots of terrific archive footage, and lots of interview to give you a genuine feel of who the Z-Boys were and how they made their mark on skateboarding.
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