starring Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, John Robinson, Michael Angarano
screenplay by Stacy Peralta
directed by Catherine Hardwicke
by Walter Chaw Because Catherine Hardwicke never met a rack zoom she didn't massage or a hard-luck adolescent's lament she didn't exploit, seeing her as a match for Stacy Peralta's semi-autobiographical account of the Zephyr skateboard team's halcyon days doesn't require that much of a squint. Directed like a heart attack and edited in such a way that most every scene ends with something breaking or someone running away, the picture is what baseball folks would call a "loud out"--a ball hit with pepper that peters out on the warning track; it doesn't even get an asterisk on the scorecard. Lords of Dogtown is the fictionalization of Peralta's interesting if overlong documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which detailed how the skateboard fad evolved from a combination of a lack of good surfing, the invention of urethane wheels, and a drought that created backyard terror-domes of skater-bliss in forcing California residents to drain their swimming pools. And what Lords of Dogtown lacks in characterization and narrative meat it makes up for in epileptic flash-edits, jittery camera work, and two interpretive dance sequences that drag on for long enough to point a long finger at the silliness of the whole endeavour. Call it S.E. Hinton for the new millennium, the romanticization of bad behaviour in a frantic stew turgid enough to embalm instead of bronze. Between this and her hysteria opus thirteen, Hardwicke is making a name for herself as the world's coolest aunt: arrested development in one hand, shot of Jack in the other, bail money in her back pocket.