Andi B. Goode’s review published on Letterboxd :
I'm going to preface this by saying that I don't enjoy sports. Not a single one. I don't enjoy watching sport, I don't enjoy playing sport, and as much as I try I don't understand the appeal in either of those activities. And you know how there are sports that people who don't like sport sometimes like? Or sports the outcasts and misfits, such as myself, gravitate toward? I don't even enjoy those. It's all so utterly alienating to me. (I mean, I was the cliche of the kid with a doctor's note to get out of PE at school...)
This is not me shitting on something that it seems the majority of humanity enjoys or saying that people are dumb for liking something I don't understand. (Just because I don't get it, doesn't mean I think other people shouldn't enjoy it or whatever). And it's not me trying to be like 'ooh, look how different and special I am!' This is me saying I thought I would be bored senseless by this documentary because, while there are many things I don't enjoy in real life, that I enjoy in movies (fictional or non), sport is rarely one of them. (Baseball seems to be an exception for some reason).
So, no one was more surprised than me at how completely engaging I found this. I barely glanced at my phone and the few times I did, I found myself rewinding the film so I wouldn't miss anything.
But, then again, this is also about a subculture. A subculture built around a sport, sure, (or maybe vice versa) but it's a subculture all the same and I find subcultures endlessly fascinating. (And it also appealed to the history nerd in me). And a lot of people I've been friends with have skated (socialising in more ~alternative social circles, that's not surprising...there's a lot of overlap with skate culture and the kinds of scenes I've been on the fringes of in my life).
It probably helps that this documentary, made up of archival footage and interviews, is rarely static. It's always moving from one thing to another, much as the skaters themselves do. For some, this almost frenetic approach might be distracting, but I felt like it fit the subject matter and it also meant my crappy attention span always had something new and shiny to look at. It also helped that Craig Stecyk's footage from the '70s is so gorgeous. Even his still photographs have so much movement in them. His eye for capturing the essence of what these kids were doing in a visually appealing way is amazing.
And listening to everyone talking about skating and why they love it was super interesting, too. And, I don't know, as much as I'm quite the goody two shoes and very much not into breaking and entering, there's something kinda cool at the thought of these poor kids breaking into rich people's backyards and skating in their empty pools. And I loved the direct comparisons between surfing moves and the way these kids incorporated it into their skating style.
Look, I just really enjoyed this and I'm so surprised!
I mean, it didn't make me want to go pick up a skateboard—the closest I've ever come is roller skating and that's fun enough until you start going faster and then it's terrifying and just not for me—but it did make me understand why it's appealing for so many people. The freedom and escape it gave them. How it became their lives. And then there's the heady appeal of fame, especially for teens (not to mention teens from poorer backgrounds, etc). I like that it didn't just glorify that aspect. That it went a little into the exploitative nature of these companies who were just after a piece of some of these kids as well as how the disbandment of the Zephyr Team hurt those who set it up and so on.
And the soundtrack is awesome.
This is such a mess, and not a review at all, and even though I'm mostly talking to myself on here, I'm going to wrap it up anyway.