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Dogtown and Z-Boys

September 7, 2013

Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
Director: Stacy Peralta

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Synopsis: A portrait of the Zephyr surf crew that emerged in the Dogtown district of LA in the 1970s to transform skateboarding.

Review: Stacy Peralta’s film on the rise of skateboarding into the consciousness of American (and indeed world) culture in the 1970s, succeeds in not only documenting a simple pastime and its group of progenitors so well, but in merging it so convincingly into a fascinating macro-portrait of how skateboarding’s genesis grew from a variety of geographic, economic and sociological factors too. It’s especially interesting for those interested in the history of LA, and how the now prosperous and ‘cool’ beach communities of Santa Monica and Venice Beach gave root to this movement from the badlands in-between the two districts in the depressed years of the early Seventies.

Sure, there is a certain pretentiousness and self-mythologisation about skateboarder/director Stacy Peralta’s thesis on the Dogtown/Z-Boys legacy (and the accompanying commentary by the various players and personalities of the era), but to some extent that buoyancy is permissible in that it appropriates the confidence and gusto that was the hallmark of the Z-Boys pioneering spirit as they took their guerilla surfing skills to the arena of skateboarding. Peralta’s style is a very MTV-esque, hyperactive pot pourri of edits, Super 8 camerawork and black-and-white stills, and that aesthetic mirrors the punk kineticism of the Z-Boys aptly. (September 2013)

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