Thursday, July 30, 2009

Deathbowl to Downtown (EB review)

Deathbowl to Downtown played last night at the Melbourne International Film Festival to a sold out theatre. The doco is a history of skateboarding in NYC from a grass roots perspective, right through to the huge industry it has become today! Or so it would let on, but it doesn't actually reach the current day! It seems to stop around 98'. It documents the rise of NYC skateboarding company Zoo York & riders Harold Hunter R.I.P, Mike Vallely, Keith Hufnagel & The Gonz.The filmmakers have done their homework & re-trace the origins of skateboarding in NYC beginning with the Zoo York crew (there was an early crew of graf writers & skaters who coined the name Zoo York) who were heavily influenced by the whole Dogtown pool craze on the West Coast, although it would seem that the only pool on the East Coast was at the very end of the 1 train in the Bronx (242nd st, Van Cortland Park). They named this pool The Deathbowl! This crew of skaters were hard up for rippable transition (- the Deathbowl) so they would look at the natural infrastructure of NYC for inspiration to try out pool & ramp moves on!
The archival footage in the documentary is great, especially of Mike Vallely doing some of the weirdest aerobic skateboarding i've ever seen & Mark Gonzales tearing through New York doing death defying car tow runs, jumping out of moving cars & landing the historic "first" 50-50 handrail!
One of the flaws of the documentary was the choice of Chloe Sevigny for the monologue, it seems to be a monologue written for a guy & when Chloe attempts to hit those moments of pure skateboarding gnar, it doesn't quite hit home like say someone like, Jason Lee for instance would have said it! There are interviews with Larry Clark & footage of his film Kids which featured a young, boyish looking Sevigny, so I suppose thats why she was a candidate for the role. All in all, Deathbowl is defenitely worth a peep, I got quite nostalgic watching it & it made me want to jump on one of those cheap flights back to New York for a roll around BK with Ray "Knives", BIG UP RAY @ PRIZE FIGHTER CUTTLERY & KCDC (I love that mini!)

I give Deathbowl 3 stars.

Peace from Melbourne, Australia!



Anonymous said...

Chloe sevigny was actually pretty good friends with Harold Hunter and the whole Washington Square Park crew when she was a teenager. And knew several of the Zoo York kids who used to rave at NASA which was her home away from home for a while. She would run away to Manhattan and just sit and watch the guys skating and thought they were really cool but didn't know how to approach them. Harold Hunter was the first to really talk to her and get to know her and she soon became a part of that whole scene. Harold was even with her during the filming of the Sugar Kane video by Sonic Youth. And that was like '92. Atleast 3 years before Kids came out. So... yep, Chloe was a teenage skate-rat.

Toddy said...

Wow! Blam! knowledge! Thanks for setting it straight.