Matthew Lickona noon, July 29
Lords of Dogtown
Buddy film "inspired by a true story" as well as by Stacy Peralta's documentary of a few years previous, Dogtown and Z-Boys, detailing the exploits of the skateboarding pioneers of Venice, Ca., in the mid-Seventies. (Peralta, one of those pioneers himself, wrote the screenplay for this re-enactment, preserving the immortal line from the documentary, "We're gonna be on summer vacation for the next twenty years.") The buddies constitute a central quartet, teammates under the sponsorship of a surf-shop guru, split apart by the push-and-pull of competition and commercialism, but still bonded forever by the shared experience of honing their skills in the empty swimming pools of Southern California during a year of drought. True stories can be trite, too. The dramatization, needless to say, was not content to be a latter-day Frankie Avalon drive-in movie. It instead gives itself cinéma verité airs. Catherine Hardwicke, the maker of Thirteen, was enlisted to direct (bringing along her star and creative collaborator on that one, Nikki Reed). And certainly the camerawork is often sloppy enough to pass as unplanned. And the dramatic scenes, so to call them, are underwritten and underformed in favor of a hectic climate of frolicking and carousing. The cast -- John Robinson, of Elephant, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, an almost unrecognizable Heath Ledger, a makeup-free Rebecca De Mornay -- does nothing to disrupt the pseudodocumentary illusion. Any rise in verisimilitude, however, comes with a commensurate rise in tedium. 2005.