Dogtown and the Z-Boys
Having grown up in the 1970s, I can testify that one of the main reasons the decade got no respect at the time is that even a lot of the people who invented things — like, say, disco or computer games — didn?t think beyond the moment. In Dogtown and Z-Boys, a dazzlingly crafted documentary about the teenage surf punks of lower Los Angeles who singlehandedly transformed skateboarding into the extreme sport it has become, we see endless Super-8 footage of long-blond-haired kids — think Hanson in the urban wasteland — as they zip, cruise, and fly on their homemade boards. They start out rolling through the asphalt mini-canyons of school parking lots (the bureaucracy’s infrastructure became their playground), and then, in a stroke of delinquent athletic imagination that would leave its mark on youth culture around the world, they advance to empty swimming pools, speeding along the surfaces of the concrete basins, up the walls, and right into the air.
In doing so, they became almost famous, but here’s the beauty part: That was the last thing on their minds. They weren’t looking past the upper lip of that swimming pool. Stacy Peralta, the director of ”Dogtown and Z-Boys,” was one of the original members of the Zephyr Skating Team, who invented the high-flying ”vert” style of skateboarding as well as the attitude of sullen grace that went with it. For the movie, he reassembled all of the original team members, who recall the snaky panache of their youthful moves with a ”Check this out, dude!” vividness that plugs you right into the liberation they were feeling. Sure, it’s only skateboarding, but the thrill of ”Dogtown” is that the kids who had the audacity to kick a concrete sport into the third dimension, carving up space with their boards, were as obsessive in their fervor as the creators of punk rock or Cubism. The movie invites you to share their free ride.