Lords of Dogtown

Dir: Catherine Hardwicke, 2005. Starring: Heath Ledger, John Robinson, Emile Hirsch, Nikki Reed. English. Drama.
Lords of Dogtown

I'm slightly envious of Stacy Peralta for not only conquering the professional skateboarding world but also for his career as a filmmaker. These two industries, in the general sense, do not correlate, but he manages to find the bridge. The result? A fantastic documentary about the legendary Z-Boys skate team in 1970s Venice named Dogtown Z-Boys, a 2004 documentary chronicling the evolution of big wave surfing called Riding Giants, and a biographical feature film about the Z-Boys journey titled Lords of Dogtown. Peralta penned the screenplay himself, with Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen and Twilight) directing.

The film, while written with obvious yet needed nostalgia, is action-packed full of skateboarding glamour, parties, competitions, strained friendships, and the intensity of male adolescent energy. The plot is loose and without any specific thread other than to chronicle the history of what happens to the Zephyr Skate Team from the beginning of their surfing days to the point where they meet again after the start of their separate careers. The lack of any overbearing plot creates an enjoyable, fast-paced energy that captures a certain spirit of the pioneering skate culture from the 70s.

Notable in Lords of Dogtown are the roles of Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), John Robinson (Gus Van Sant's Elephant), and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild). Hirsch and Robinson play Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta, respectively, while Heath Ledger plays the role of Skip Engblom, a Venice beach local board designer. His portrayal as a surf-bum falling into disillusionment is compelling and sad, in a Jimi-Hendrix-meets-surf-culture way… Which leads me to another aspect of the film – the great soundtrack, featuring Jimi Hendrix, T.Rex, David Bowie, Deep Purple, Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent, The Allman Brothers Band, and a cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" by Sparklehorse and Thom Yorke. This soundtrack is a parallel to the energy and reminiscence barely contained in the film – and you don't have to be a skater or surfer to enjoy it!

Posted by:
Tiffany Huang
Feb 17, 2009 4:31pm
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