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Rio Breaks (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Captivating and awesome from beginning to end!  “Rio Breaks” is more than just a surfing documentary, its a film about children who surf to survive and Justin Mitchell has done a fantastic job in showing us the reality for many of the kids from the favela (slums) in Rio de Janeiro.  Highly enjoyable and an all-out, awesome documentary that is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2010 Factory 25. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Rio Breaks

DOCUMENTARY RELEASE DATE: 2009

DURATION: 85 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: English, Color, 1:78:1, Widescreen: Dolby Digital, Region 0

RATED: N/A

COMPANY: Factory 25

Released Dated: August 31, 2010

Directed by Justin Mitchell

Written by Vince Medeiros, Justin Mitchell

Co-Writer: John Maier

Executive Producer: Francesco Civita, Sheri Levine, Michael Thornton

Producer: Vince Medeiros, Justin Mitchell

Music by Jeffrey Kite

Cinematography by Justin Mitchell

Edited by Rene Guerra, Justin Mitchell

Starring:

Fabio

Naama

Rogerio

Thyola

Maicon

Joyce

Picachu

Fia

Kevin

Set against the volatile and dangerous world of the favelas, Rio Breaks tells the story of two surf-obsessed friends, 13-year-old Fabio and 12-year-old Naamã.  The pair live in Rio de Janeiro’s Favela do Pavão, which is controlled by one of the city’s most dangerous drug gangs. However, their attention is focused on the waves of Arpoador Beach and on a coming surfing event that may help them become professionals and escape the world of gangs.

Nominated for Best Documentary at the Hawaii International Film Festival and winner of the Special Jury Mention at the San Sebastian Surfilm Festibal, this Sundance Channel co-production by Director Justin Mitchell  (Death Cab for Cutie: Drive Well, Sleep Carefully; Jenny Lewis: Welcome to Van Nuys; Ted Leo: Dirty Old Town & Songs for Cassavetes) and Writer Vince Medeiros (Surfing & Huck magazine) is an inspired and hugely original documentary that takes the surf film genre into never-before-seen territory.

“Rio Breaks” is a highly enjoyable, touching yet heartbreaking surf documentary that is highly recommended!

For many kids living in the favela (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, growing up in the area means a volatile life, a life of poverty, as many of the kids become drug traffickers or simply don’t live a long life as drug wars and wars between the police and one of the many drug gangs that are fully armed and ready to take on the police and rival gangs and many people, children end up dying.

This is the life of those living in the favela (there are around 700 of them in Brazil) and this has been going on since the 18th Century in Brazil where former slaves with no land or jobs have settled and later on, people from another town or from the countryside have moved to a larger city in hopes to find a better living and job, but for many, the good life that they have searched for have become fruitless and many have moved to the favela, where many of the poor reside.

But minutes from these Favela in Rio is Arpoador Beach and for many children, a few who grow up in the Favela do Cantagalo who are able to stay away from trouble by going to the beach, away from the favela and surf.

“Rio Breaks” is a documentary by Justin Mitchell (know for directing videos for Death Cab for Cutie) and co-written by Mitchell, Vince Medeiros and John Maier and focuses on two children who live in the favela near Arpoador Beach and surf on the beach to stay away from trouble.

Thirteen-year-old Fabio is a boy that is passionate about surfing but he is also a boy who has had a hard life.  His father who was part of a drug gang wanted out of the gang and thus he was killed and dropped over the cliff.  His mother was never part of his life and thus Fabio looks towards surfing as a way for him to get out of the favela and hopefully win competitions and earn sponsorships.    But things are not easy for Fabio, he’s doesn’t go to school and he has a short temper and can get a bit mischievous and can easily get into trouble.

Meanwhile, 12-year-old Naama is a friend of Fabio and enjoys surfing and bodyboarding.  He also has a hard life as he lives in the favela but unlike Fabio, Naama has big dreams.  He wants to study hard in school, surf, dreams of going to Hawaii because he can’t believe people surf enormous waves and also dreams of riding a helicopter.  But Naama is wise for a young boy.  His brother who was a surfer but also a drug trafficker was killed by the police when he was coming home with some detergent and a DVD.  Because his family is not making much money, his brother tried to make money selling drugs and ended up getting killed.

But this is the life of the favela.  Someone’s life is always taken, someone always dies and a child is easily corrupted and ends up joining one of the many drug gangs in the favela and ends up as a trafficker or one of their soldiers.

But there are a few people in the favela who want to make sure that all children are not corrupted and that is where surfer Rogerio and his friends come in.  Rogerio and friends run the Favela Surf Club.  They lend out surfboards to kids to go out and surf.  And also training them and preparing them for competition.  Their main rules are study hard in school and practice your surfing and they are full aware that some of the kids will stay true to those rules but also know how things are in the favela and know how some kids can easily get into trouble and can easily be corrupted.

Director/cinematographer Justin Mitchell shows us how life is for Fabio, Naama, Rogerio and a few others who surf or have had children or friends who have surfed but were easily corrupted by the drugs or joined a drug gang and were killed, shot or serving time in prison.  But to show us that no matter how bleak things are, there are people out there who are willing to show you the light, a better life if you want it. There is hope!

VIDEO:

“Rio Breaks” is presented in 1:78:1.  Justin Mitchell does a fantastic job with his coverage in the water, on the beach as he showcases the Favela Surf Club members surfing or just beautiful shots of Rio de Janeiro to give us the glimpse of the lives of those who are living in the Favela do Cantagalo.  Cinematography was very well-done and character positioning and just capturing the ups and downs of the two children were well-done.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rio Breaks” is presented in Portuguese Dolby Digital with English subtitles.  Dialogue is clear and understandable, subtitles were easy to read and the documentary also features cool music!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rio Breaks” comes with the following special features:

  • Bonus Scenes – A total of eight deleted scenes: Kids on the Roof, Dengue Fever, Kevin Skips School, Favela Surf Clube, Simao Romao, Maicon, Surf vs. Study, Party at Fia’s
  • Trailers – Featuring the original fund-raising trailer for “Rio Breaks”(formerly titled “Favella Breaks”, 6:57) which was shot in 2005 by Justin Mitchell who interviews a few surfers including Rogerio (and the Favela Surf Club) on the life of people in the Favela and those who have turned to surfing to stay away from the trouble. Also, included is “Trailer 2 (Final)” (1:19), the original theatrical trailer for “Rio Breaks”.
  • ‘Living Cantagalo’ – (6:52) In 2006, Justin Mitchell spent a few days living with Rogerio in the Favela do Cantagalo to see what kind of footage he can capture on 35mm.

Although surfing films or documentaries about children who have surf and had troubled lives are nothing new for those of us in the US, rarely do we see how surfing is a way of life for many people in other countries and most of all, how surfing is a way to get people away from the volatile life of drug gangs, drug wars and showing children that they have choices.

“Rio Breaks” is a fantastic surfing documentary that really shows us the life of these surfers and children who grew up in the favela.  I have watched many surfing films and surf documentaries but this is probably the deepest surf documentary I have seen in my life.  Granted, “Dogtown and Z-Boys” was marvelous documentary of showing us how kids who didn’t have much, using their talents to become something bigger but “Rio Breaks” was something that really surprised me because I was unaware that people were surfing not only for the fun of it but also as way to escape their lives in the favela, even for a few hours a day, there are kids who do it, are passionate about it but know that they can easily be swayed to join a drug gang in the promise of money and women.

But at the same time, with so many people, especially children getting killed, it’s a daily situation where shootouts are common and so, during the day… for some kids, surfing is their life and possibly their way to get out of the favela.

As a viewer, you really want to see both 13-year-old Fabio and 12-year-old Naama come out strong from their life in the favela.  Justin Mitchell does a wonderful job in following these young children for over a year and just see how they grow up and the things they face in life, that many of us in the US can’t even imagine.

You look at Fabio and here is a kid who is stoked on surfing but yet, his father was killed by his own gang for trying to leave, his mother doesn’t care about him, he doesn’t go to school and doesn’t have anyone out there to give him that love he needed when he was a kid.  As much as his friend Naama and even Rogelio and the members of the Favela Surf Club try to help him and make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble, this boy’s life is on a thread.  He doesn’t want to be in a gang, he wants to be a better surfer like his idol Kelly Slater but he and the family are barely surviving as it is.  So, despite his short temper, by watching this film, you root for him to see if he can avoid the trouble, avoid being corrupted and watch until the end to see the result.

But if anything, the child that you root for is the young Naama.  Naama is not as passionate of surfing like Fabio but he does it.  He learns it.  But he does what it takes to make his family proud.  He goes to school, he stays out of trouble but he has a good head on his shoulders to know what is right from wrong and even criticizes Fabio for being unruly at times.

But these kids are no different from other groms out there.  They love Kelly Slater and their local hometown surfers, they play Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer on the PS2, they want to surf and have fun, they want to get better at surfing but the difference is that these kids live a life where violence is daily, where life of poverty is daily and know that the odds of them leaving and finding a good life for themselves is quite slim.

We see the two children with different dreams.  Fabio centered towards surfing while Naama is much bigger.  Wanting to ride a helicopter, wanting to get out of the favela and not ending up like his brother who was a drug trafficker and was killed by the police while carrying laundry detergent and a DVD.  It’s surprising to our eyes, as many of us who do surf are unaware of how bad things really are for other surfers especially those who live in the favela in Rio de Janeiro.

Justin Mitchell and crew did a fantastic job with “Rio Breaks” and it’s definitely a documentary that one should watch.  Beautiful cinematography, well-paced and one of the best surfing documentaries out there.

If there is one thing I have to add to this review that is related to the film, after you have watched “Rio Breaks”, I highly recommended visiting the riobreaks.com website (or by clicking here) as you get to see what happens to Naama and his family and also to those of the Favela Surf Club after Luciano Huck (one of the host of Brazil’s most popular TV shows) fell in love with the film.  A happy ending for those who enjoyed the documentary!

Overall, “Rio Breaks” is a fantastic documentary and is highly recommended!

THE SIXTH ELEMENT: THE ROSS CLARKE-JONES STORY (a J!-ENT Surfing DVD Review)

January 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Surfer Ross Clarke-Jones had it all, was on top in the surfing world but the life of Clarke-Jones was anything but simple.  A complex individual with one hell of an interesting life!”

TITLE: THE SIXTH ELEMENT: THE ROSS CLARKE-JONES STORY

DURATION: 60 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Dolby Digital

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Westlake Entertainment, Inc.

Directed by Justin McMillan

Narrated by Dennis Hopper

Editor: Nick Tomnay

Written by Chris Nelius

Executive Producers: Luke Hannan Garry “Spurter” Wall-Chris Mater

Original Music by Peter Glendenning

Starring:

Ross-Clarke Jones

Kelly Slater

Jamie Brisick

Matt Hoy

Noah Johnson

Gary “Kong” Elkerton

Jeff Bushman

Wayne Bartholomew

Bill Cilia

Mark Occhilupo

Tom Carroll

Darrick Doener

Eddie Rothman

Peter “Joli” Wilson

Brock Little

Maurice Cole

Tony Ray

The story of Ross Clarke-Jones is at once compelling.  His manhandling of the biggest waves in the word is the same approach he applies to his life.  Full tilt, bared teeth and a hunger that cannot be sated.

He’s an adventurer who’s intrepid exploring is breaking new barriers, whether that’s in the remote corners of Tasmania of the lush corridors of the Amazon.  This film will take you as close to his life as you would want.

It’s captivating, dramatic, funny and inspirational.  This story needs to be seen to be believed! It will take you on an incredible journey through a radical life, all set against some of the biggest waves ever surfed.

I grew up watching a lot of these surfers as a young grom.  And back in the early 80’s, among the surfers that you would see occasionally on the magazines was Ross Clarke-Jones.  And of course, now the guy is known for taking on some killer big wave surfing.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen his name but back in 2006, I was pretty surprised to see a documentary on this surfer’s life.  “The Sixth Element” is derived from the fact that he was born on June 6, 1966 (6/6/66) and that this surfer’s life was nothing simple.  This guy had a complex life with quite a bit of highs but also some major lows.

The film starts off  an English explorer named Sir William Howell went to Borneo and met one of the chiefs and took the daughter back to England.  Their child met Robert Clarke-Jones in Western Australia and had a child named Ross.  Ross would surf a lot while living in Terrigal and eventually in his teens, he stayed in Bangkok, Thailand and got caught up in the partying and clubbing scene and all this experience with women.  As a teenager, when he returned back to Terrigal, he was a different man.

With so much experience, Ross Clarke-Jones grown so much from that experience that he didn’t want to go to school anymore.  Next thing you know, he moves to Hawaii and starts hanging out with a lot of the top surfers like Rabbit Bartholomew and Gary “Kong” Elkerton and focusing on his surfing career and eventually returned back to Australia where he developed a friendship and rivalry with Mark Sainsbury.

One of the most interesting features in the documentary is for the first surfing film with a storyline called “Mad Wax” featuring the top surfer at the time Gary “Kong” Elkerton, Tom Carroll, Mark Sainsbury and Ross Clarke-Jones and although the film was to feature primarily on Gary Elkerton, somehow Ross Clarke-Jones became a big star on the film.

And then you got see how Ross Clarke-Jones started to get all amped for big wave riding, how corporate sponsorship started to grow in the sport and how these athletes started to become celebrities.  They would have the fans, the women, the cars and starting to make big money.  Ross Clarke-Jones was a star.  And that stardom would lead to more partying and not focusing on the sport that made him a star.

So, then Ross learned of how he lost his focus but also gained a perspective in life and thus went to Brazil  and hooked up with Quicksilver’s Fernando and immediately he fell in love with a Brazilian woman who came with Fernando.  The two dated, they got engaged and all of a sudden, he got married.

Meanwhile in the US, his friend/rival Mark Sainsbury started to grow distance from Ross and with corporate sponsorship starting to tighten up and struggling with bad results from competitions and then Ross’ mother was fighting and eventually succumed to cancer.  He lost his mother and then all of a sudden Sainsbury died of a brain embolism not long after.  With two deaths of two people close to him, this started to change Clarke-Jones and he was not winning any competitions.   Ross then surfed at Backdoor and had one of his worst wipeouts which broke his back and had to undergo rehab.

While his career was not going well, Ross eventually started to have affairs with other women despite having a loving wife and children.  Ross continued to travel and surf but while traveling, Ross met another woman named Marcia that he would instantly fall in love with.  Ross eventually divorced his wife who he says he loved but felt that Marcia was his destiny.

When Ross returned to surfing, he started to focus on big wave surfing specifically tide surfing and then tow surfing and he was able to regain that excitement and passion for surfing and eventually accomplished another major feat in his life as the first non-Hawaiian to win the Quiksilver Eddie Akau big wave competition.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

The video features a lot of classic surfing video footage and footage in color and black and white.  If anything, the fact that you have a surfing film that does include some classic surf footage is awesome.  But don’t expect anything super clear or eye popping.

As for audio, this is a documentary and its primarily dialogue-based.  So, no need for the use of 5.1 or higher audio channels or surround sound.  If anything, dialogue is clear and you can hear Hopper and others interviewed quite well.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are really no special features ion this DVD.  You do get a Mad Wax Film promo, Red Bull surf team promo and Tracks Magazine promo but trailers or promotionals are not exactly major special features.  If anything, it would have been interesting to hear a commentary track or maybe some blooper reels.

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All in all, “THE SIXTH ELEMENT: THE ROSS CLARKE-JONES STORY” is a fun documentary.  Fortunately, there are humorous segments and so many top surfers involved in this documentary that it made the film fun to watch.  It’s one thing to have a legendary actor like Dennis Hopper narrate but Ross Clarke-Jones is quite a funny guy but knows when to be serious when discussing certain topics about his life.  And of course, you get some cool segments with Kelly Slater, Wayne Bartholomew, Tom Carroll, Gary Elkerton, etc.

Suffice to say, Ross Clarke-Jones had an upbringing that many people don’t get to experience.  Especially when he was in his young teens and got to experience some wild things in Thailand by himself.  But most of all to see how he has managed to face life despite of two major deaths, a divorce and stardom at a young age and the pressures of winning competitions.

Overall, a fun surfing documentary and surfing fans will definitely like the classic and big wave surf clips, cool music and to see some of the top surfers all taking part in this documentary.  Wish the DVD had more in terms of special features but overall, a solid surf documentary one one of surfing’s well-known surfers.

DRIVE THRU SOUTH CENTRAL AMERICA (a J!-ENT Surfing DVD Review)

November 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

“If there is one thing to expect from ‘DRIVE THRU’ surfing DVD’s, always expect a DVD that is a lot of fun, some mischief, awesome locations and cool surfing footage.  Always featuring a group of the top surfers around the world who are just enjoying the country that they are visiting and having a rad time!  DRIVE THRU SOUTH CENTRAL AMERICA is just all out fun!”

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DVD:  DRIVE THRU SOUTH CENTRAL AMERICA

COMPANY: 14 Day Productions

DVD INFORMATION: Color

DURATION: 48:30 minutes

RELEASED IN 2004

Taylor Steele – Executive Producer

Taylor Steele and Matt Beauchesne – Director of Photography

Matt Beauchesne – Editor

Jeffrey Motyll/CIRRUS MOTION MEDIA – Motion Graphics

Brendan Raasch – Art Director

Jeff Browning, Chris Cote, Brendan Klein – Music Director

Greg Browning – Director

STARRING:

Shane Dorian

Benji Weatherly

Kalani Robb

Donavon Frankenrieter

Ozzie Wright

When it comes to surfing DVD’s, among my favorites are the “DRIVE THRU” series from 14 Day Productions.  It’s literally a series which puts together a group of well-known surfers and send them to surf spots in different parts of the world.

Some of these surfers know each other really well and some who don’t know each other all that well but  that’s part of the fun of watching these people together and see how they have fun, if they can put up with each other and overall enjoy the country, experience the culture and surf in cool locations.

This was a fun “DRIVE THRU” because these guys had fun, got drunk, pulled pranks on each other but it’s just how the crew covered the 14-days of traveling, surfing and just following the guys having fun.  But the enjoyability also comes from the tight editing by Matt Beauschesne.  From the beautiful scenery of South Central America (Panama, Chile and Brazil), the clips of the guys surfing and how you get these flashes of images and editing that is in tune with the music.  Pretty cool!

Speaking of the music, quite a good number of awesome music featured featured on this DVD from Blink 182’s “Easy Target”, Chemical Romance with “The Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You”, Muse’s “Hysteria”, Modest Mouse’s “Float On”,  Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” and many others.

For DRIVE THRU South Central America, the surfing footage is very awesome but the feature also has a few cool non-surfing footage.  Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

  • Watching the guys goof off at the airport
  • Kalani getting drunk and getting hit by a bat and falling into the sea.
  • Some kid taunting Benji Weatherly
  • Donavon playing guitar and Ozzie singing “La Bamba”
  • The guys hang gliding in Brazil
  • The guys riding their ATV’s on the beach and then doing some tow surfing

The feature is about 48 minutes long.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are a good number of extras such as an alternate ending (which I preferred), three deleted scenes (which were around 5-minutes) featuring the guys looking at a sloth climbing a tree, more of the bats and more surfing footage when the guys went out with the ATV’s.

Also, included are outtakes with the guys ribbing on each other and messing around and messing up on camera.  For “Inside Out”, the guys talk about being selected for this DRIVE THRU and discussing their favorite experiences of the trip.  Then there is a 2-minute “Surf” footage featuring everyone surfing.

There are quite a good number of “DRIVE THRU” releases on DVD but it’s always cool to see the various surf spots in different countries and again, these DRIVE THRU features are quite fun because you get a good balance of surfing footage but sometimes you really don’t know anything about the surfers but what you see on TV, what you read on magazines but with this series, you get to see these surfers and watch them have fun!

It’s like hearing a story from a buddy about his surf trip in some country but instead of having to hear it, you can watch it.  You get that visual experience which made it fun.  Also, with awesome editing, DVD presentation, beautiful locations and awesome music, and again…just watching these guys just ribbing on each other, crackin jokes and having fun, everything was all good!

Last, I like the fact that this surf DVD doesn’t skimp on special features, there’s a good number of them and they are quite lengthy too.

Overall, these DRIVE THRU DVD’s are just enjoyable.  Definitely check it out!

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LEARN TO SURF the Fundamentals with 3x World Champion Andy Irons (a J!-ENT Surfing DVD Review)

November 16, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

“A fun and enjoyable surfing fundamental film featuring three time surfing World Champion Andy Irons and Chris Cote.  A fun volume in the ‘Learn to Surf’ series!”

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DVD:  LEARN TO SURF The Fundamentals with 3x World Champion Andy Irons

COMPANY: Billabong and Transworld SURF Magazine

DVD INFORMATION: Color

DURATION: 31:57 minutes

RELEASED IN 2005

STARRING:

Andy Irons, Chris Cote and friends

THREE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION ANDY IRONS hosts this revolutionary, fun and hilarious instructional DVD on the fundamentals of learning how to surf.  Volume 001 in this collector’s series focuses on the basics while all skill levels will find helpful tips on surfing better.  Filmed in Hawai’i and bro-hosted by TransWorld SURF magazine’s Chris Cote.  Learn to Surf: The Fundamentals is sure to make you think, laugh and paddle out today.

There are not too many “learn to surf” DVD’s in the market.  Well, I’ll take that back… More like, there are not too many well-produced and cool “learn to surf” DVD’s in the market.

For the first volume of the “Learn to Surf: The Fundamentals” series from Surfwear company Billabong and Transworld SURF magazine comes a cool DVD starring three time world champion Andy Irons and Transworld SURF magazine’s Chris Cote in a fun (and short) DVD on pretty much the basic fundamentals.

Join Andy Irons and Chris Cote as they go to a surf shop and show you how to select a surfboard, the accessories you’ll need, knowing about safety.  Then you get to watch how to do your stance, standing on the board and learning to paddle.

Then you get to learn how to surf, learning wave physics, attaching a leash, waxing your board and catching waves.

All in all, it’s a pretty much self-explanatory DVD that features the basic fundamentals.  What makes the DVD quite entertaining is that Chris Cote clowns around and makes the video fun.

AUDIO AND VIDEO:

Audio is pretty much all dialogue but it can be heard quite well through the speakers.  The video seems to be shot on DV.  Pretty cool cuts cenes of Andy and Chris driving through Hawaii.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Featured is the “Making of LEARN TO SURF the Fundamentals with 3x World Champion Andy Irons” and also trailers for five surf films and promo for the Billabong Surf Camp.

The “Making Of” is about six minutes long and features the staff involved in the making of the DVD.

Again, this is one of the better, well-produced DVD’s on “Learning to Surf”.  It’s a bit short at 30-minutes long but it’s pretty much teaching the basic fundamentals and for that, the DVD does its job.

If anything, it’s well-done because there are quite a bit of cut scenes, showcasing the beauty of Hawaii and just learning how to surf.  Makes it even more entertaining because of the comedy interaction between Cote and Irons.

All in all, a pretty cool DVD and you can find it for a great price these days online!  Check it out!

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A BROKEDOWN MELODY (a J!-ENT Surfing DVD Review)

October 31, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

“Absolutely beautiful!  One of the best surf films to feature awesome cinematography all on 16MM but also a surfing film with substance and just all out enjoyment of surfing not just from popular surfers featured on this film but the people from those countries that embrace the surf life but in their own way.  Awesome!”

FILM: A BROKEDOWN MELODY

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2004

DISTRIBUTED BY: Woodshed Films

RATED: NOT RATED

DURATION: 55 minutes, EXTRA FEATURES: 45 minutes

Directed by Chris Malloy

Produced by Emmet Malloy and Tim Lynch

Co-Producer: Kelly Slater

Creative Director: Dusty Lynn

Director of Photography: Dave Homcy

Edited by Clark Eddy, Dustin Lynn

Art Direction: Dave Lively and Chris Malloy

A Film by Chris and Emmet Malloy

Starring:

Mark Cunningham

Jack Johnson

Gerry Lopez

Rob Machado

Kelly Slater

A BROKEDOWN MELODY follows swell through South America, Polynesia and Jamaica documenting in 16mm film the surfing of Kelly Slater, Gerry Lopez, Jack Johnson, Mike Todd, Mark Cunningham, C.J. Hobgood, The Wilmots, The Malloys and Rob Machado.

Music from Jack Johnson, Eddy Vedder, Beta Band, Kings of Convenience, Doug Martsch, Kruder and Dorfmeister, Astor Piazzola, Mikey Einziger, Johnny Osbourne, M. Ward, Matt Costa, Culver City Dub Collective, Todd Hanigan, Xocoyotzin Moraza and more.

THE TRAILER:

I remember purchasing this video and just stoked about watching popular surfers such as Kelly Slater to legend Gerry Lopez and also to see singer/surfer Jack Kohnson and many others together in a surfing film.   Oh, and my favorite surfer Tom Curren also stars in this film and many others who are not mentioned on the back cover.

Granted, you see many surfers from different surfing companies in various films but this one, rarely are you going to see a surfing film with Kelly Slater, Gerry Lopez, Jack Johnson, Rob Machado and a few others together like this.

But what I enjoyed this film is just the incredible videography that I’ve watched it so many times over the years because it’s not so much about watching these legendary surfers surf, it’s about the environment, the life and embracing the location and the people in the area.

Watching the surf team from Jamaica to these kids using broken boards to surf to the Jamaican Surf Team, that was just so cool to see.  Overall, this film was truly a cool surfing experience with one of the coolest visual experiences of a surf film that I’ve seen (and I’ve watched many surfing films).

I don’t know if I would call it a classic but I really enjoyed the film, it wasn’t so much in your face but it was about substance and surfing as a way of life and the people who live in South America, Polynesia and Jamaica.  So, all in all, I truly digged “A BROKEDOWN MELODY”.

VIDEO:

For a surfing film, I felt the video on 16mm was just a fantastic way to document this film.  The colors looked vibrant and just overall, it had a look that wasn’t to crispy clear, had that edge and noise with some of the dust that you would expect to see.  Visually, the colors and overall look were very cool!

AUDIO:

Although this film is more of a surfing/documentary style and a lot of dialogue, the focus on audio is primarily the cool music by Jack Johnson, Eddie Vedder and many other talents.  Music definitely gave a great ambience throughout the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

This DVD comes with several special features.  Extra surf segments is pretty much nearly 27-minutes worth of extra footage.  This extra footage are just in par with the actual film, I’m guessing was cut out for pacing reasons but still watching the cut footage is actually better than a lot of stand-alone DVD’s that are twice as long.

For “Moonshine Videos”, you get the music videos for Ben Harper’s “With My Own Two Hands” and “Diamonds on the Inside” and you get the “Taylor” outtakes which is a short segment featuring actor Ben Stiller pretending to talk surf lingo with two guys.

For “Surf Aid International”, pretty much a five minute segment about what the organization is about and how it helps people in other countries that are less fortunate and how they bring doctors to help people affected by malaria.  Pretty much focusing on a guy named Dave who is a doctor who was surfing in another country and went to a nearby village to see how he can help people in the village and learned that they really needed his help.  He quit his high paying job, sold his house to help the villagers and use low-cost vaccines and education to help the villages.

“A BROKEDOWN MELODY” is just a fantastic film.  Not too long and not boring at all.  It’s just visually appealing and the various cuts and editing featuring the beautiful waves, the landscapes and the people from that live near the area just enjoying the surf along with the surfers was just incredible to see.

So, pretty much, I felt that I got more for my money with this surfing DVD.

Surfers looking for aerials or big wave surfing, this is not the video you are looking for.  For surfers that just want to enjoy surfers like Kelly Slater, Tom Curren, Gerry Lopez, Jack Johnson and others surfing in South America, Polynesia and Jamaica and just enjoy the overall scenery and to hear not just from the surfers about the experience but also the villagers, you don’t really see that in a surfing film.

Definitely worth owning!

FIVE SUMMER STORIES (a J!-ENT Surfing DVD Review)

October 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A look back at surfing past during a time of the Vietnam War, President Nixon and a change in the world of surfing, surfbreaks, women in surfing, the growing popularity of skateboarding.  For any surfing DVD that is worth having in your collection, this one is a true classic and a must own!

FILM:  Five Summer Stories

YEAR OF FILM: 1972

DISTRIBUTED BY: Surfing Video Network

RATED: NOT RATED

DURATION: 1:29:38

Directed by Greg MacGillivray

Written by Jim Freeman, Greg MacGillivray

Produced by Jim Freeman, Greg MacGillivray

Music by Honk

Cinematography by Bud Browne, Jim Freeman, Greg MacGilllivray

Starring:

Eddie Aikau

Sam Hawk

Gerry Lopez

David Nuuhiwa

Corky Carroll

Shaun Tomson

Heralded as “the finest surf movie ever made,” Five Summer Stories is a cultural icon, a time capsule from a watershed era when the world was at a critical crossroads and its reflection was clear in the emerging sport/art of surfing.

Against a backdrop of the Vietnam War and the Nixon years, Five Summer Stories was the culmination of the joint surf-film careers of Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray.  Code named “The Last Surfing Movie” during production, the movie portrays a young, outlaw sport at a strategic point of its creative evolution-and at an historic crux in time.  Now you, too, can do what the audience of the 1970s did-you can hoot and scream and go crazy-all in the privacy of your own home.

THE LAST SURFING MOVIE – “Five Summer Stories” is Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman’s last surfing film.  It is the culmination of a ten year celebration in celluloid that includes the classics “Free and Easy, Waves of Change and The Sunshine Sea”.  In Five Summer Stories”, Greg and Jim give us five plus exciting, controversial and beautiful stories about surfing.  From these stories comes a perspective on surfing that warns of the future while it warms the present.  SUMMER: NOT A SEASON BUT A STATE OF MIND.

I’ve heard so much about Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray’s (the founder of IMAX) film “Five Summer Stories” (and “Sunshine Sea”) many times from fellow surfers and before it was released in DVD, I’ll admit seeing the VHS at various surf shop for years but I always found myself using the money towards surf wax or new board shorts because what people were selling were these expensive limited edition signed sets and so I passed.

Flash forward many years later and it’s been gnawing in the back of my mind that I still haven’t seen the film yet and so, I drove to my local surf shop and picked up “Five Summer Stories” on DVD.

I’ve heard about how this film was one of the first major budget films as it was the first film on stereo, it was the first film that paid a surfer (Gerry Lopez) for appearing in the film and how this film literally packed theaters who just loved the surfing, seeing popular surfers from the 70’s and also from the past just showing off their passion and also music by the Beach Boys and Honk.

Having watched the DVD again for I don’t know how many times since I bought it, I figured that I might as well type up a review on my thoughts of the film.

The film is titled “Five Summer Stories” and features various stories somewhat broken down in five categories.  The first story titled ” A Hawaiian Odyssey” featuring Hawaii in 1972 and various surfers in Hawaii at various locations such as the North Shore, Sunset, Waikiki.  From shots of the various activities in the 1970’s, from people in Hawaii at events, to ladies in bikinis and even a young Laird Hamilton at the age of 10.

Chapter 1 3/8 would feature the surfing scene in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the popularity of surf films, surf shops, knee boarding, Duke and the big surfers at that time.  Micky Dora, Nat Young, Midget Farrelly, Corky Carroll, David Nuuhiwa and more.

Chapter 2 titled “Different Drummers” features major surfers commenting on up and coming surfers of the early 70s.  Also, an interesting segment with Corky Carrol with a mic taped to his body while surfing.

Chapter 2 1/2 is titled “Magic Rolling Board” and this featured the popularity of skateboarding during the 70’s.  This was pretty fun to see the various stunts that people would pull off and the crazy fandom at that time.

Chapter 2 3/4 is titled “Contest Weight”.  This would focus on various surfing competitions in the 70’s.

Chapter 3 titled “Women in Motion” features popular women surfing from 1958 through the early 1970s.  It was great to see women such as Lynne Boyer, Linda Benson, Joyce Hoffman and others who revolutionized surfing.

Chapter 3 1/4 features Shaun Tomson and 3 1/2 is titled “Bright Stars” and features two surfers.

Chapter 4 features a combination of surfing and old school animation.  Chapter 4 3/4 titled “Is Surfing Closed Out” and this one features popular surf breaks and its changes from the 60’s to 1995 (new footage).

Chapter 5 is titled “Heaven’s Gift to Man: Tunnel of Love” which features a combination of surfing and animation.  Focusing on surfers riding the tube.

VIDEO:

Considering the film was released in 1972, many scenes looked pretty well done and the video looks like it held up quite well through the years.  The problem is that I don’t know how much was added in newer footage versus what was shown in the 1970’s.  But all in all, the older footage looks pretty good on DVD.

AUDIO:

A lot of music and narration.  A lot of people who grew up in the 70’s have always talked about the awesome soundtrack and people who have seen the original film have said the film version of the DVD has its music replaced (half of the Beach Boys music replaced).  So, again…not having seen the original 70’s film, I don’t know how much music was changed from the original to this present DVD version.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features but there is a 1:29 minute prologue asking people “What were you doing in 1972?”.  Prologue was misspelled as prologe but very minor quirp.

Personally, I can see why this movie is a classic and I definitely agree it is a time capsule for surfing past.  There are so many cutscenes, surfing and a bit of humor and fun included in this film and for a film created in 1972, I can tell you that the footage looks much better than a lot of surfing DVD’s and VHS I own from the 80s and 90s.

For me, I enjoy watching legends like Gerry Lopez and even seeing Corky Carroll just ripping and just having fun on the waves.  There are so many legendary surfers on this film and of course, many of them were in their teens or twenties at the time, so it was cool to see them surf.

I actually enjoy humorous cut scenes and footage that may not seem as much to others but yeah, sing Bill Hamilton and little Laird surfing at the age of 10 and 11 was pretty cool because that little kid has grown up to become one of the best big wave surfers of all time.

I’ve read some reviews about how the DVD version of the film does not have the original music as the original film and it truly was a bummer to them.  I have not seen the original film with the original Beach Boys soundtrack, so I am not affected.  But I supposed I can understand in someways when I watch a DVD for a television show and the music was changed because they don’t have the music rights for the DVD releases and yeah, if you don’t like the music which replaced the original, yeah, I can see that really dampening the experience for some.

Also, I noticed that the original film clocks in at 94 minutes, while this DVD version clocks in at 89:38.  So, five minutes maybe were cut?  Not sure.  I do know that near the end, we see 1995 footage, so not sure if the film was re-edited to celebrate its 25th Anniversary or what.

But all in all, this film is one of the few surfing DVD’s that I can say is worth owning.  I enjoyed watching the classic 70s footage and the fact that the film tried to introduced so many parts to it, all in all, it was fun.  Was it better than “Endless Summer”, I’m more biased towards “Endless Summer” but overall, “Five Summer Stories” was just fun to watch and having it in my collection definitely has me stoked!

Letting Go – KELLY SLATER 2005 – TRIALS & TRIUMPHS (a J!-ENT Surfing DVD Review)

October 17, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A fantastic DVD featuring one of the most talented surfers of all time.  ‘Letting Go’ focuses on the rough time in Kelly Slater’s life when he went without a title for seven years and how he came so close to winning one but then losing it.  And in 2005, to win his seventh (of his nine total) World Championships.  Definitely providing insight also to one of the most competitive surfing rivalries of all time between Kelly Slater and 3 time world champion Andy Irons!

FILM: Letting Go – KELLY SLATER 2005 – TRIALS & TRIUMPHS

DISTRIBUTED BY: Quicksilver

In the 1990’s, Kelly Slater established himself as the most dominant professional surfer ever.  He won a record 6 world titles.  But that was then.  By 2005, it had been 7 years sine he had worn the crown.  Many thought he was past his prime.

They were wrong.

Experience the most triumphant of Kelly’s career. Join him in the epic waves of the WCT “dream tour” – Australia, South Pacific, Africa, North and South Africa, Asia and Europe – on his quest for his long awaited 7th world title.  Get behind the scenes look into one of the most intense years in competitive surfing – the rivalries, the controversies and the drama – from the world’s top pro surfers.  Witness revealing and exclusive interviews with Kelly and never before seen backstage footage of his life.

Packed with bonus features, this is a documentary that pulls back the curtain and shows history in the making.

THE TRAILER:

Kelly Slater is the most dominant surfer of all time and having won 9 world titles, it sure didn’t come easy.  Before winning world title #7, Kelly Slater had not won a title in seven years.

Having to deal with personal problems, the death of his father to cancer and stress took its toll on the athlete.

In 2003, the surfing world looked at Andy Irons as the most dominant surfer having won three world titles.

That year,  Kelly Slater made his comeback and  points wise, Kelly Slater was  ahead and it was Kelly Slater’s world title to win.

But with Andy Irons winning many competitions and gaining on points, it led to one last confrontation that year and in the end, Andy Irons won the world championship and for Kelly Slater, it left him devastated.

Pro surfing now had its most intense rivalry and in 2005, it became another year like 2003 where Kelly Slater at no. 1 and Andy Irons at no. 2 with both each winning key competitions.

After his devastating loss against Andy Irons, the eyes were set on their rivalry and everyone wondered if Kelly Slater had what it took to win his seventh world title or would he crumble and Andy Irons get the best of him again.

The documentary features Kelly Slater return in 2005 in his bid to win a world title.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The DVD comes with six deleted scenes which show Kelly Slater talking about relationships, why it’s hard to win all the time, the truth about rivalry, strength training and more.  Included is a huge poster of Kelly Slater surfing.

All in all, if you are a Kelly Slater fan and respect his surfing and what he has accomplished in his life, “Letting Go” is the ultimate Kelly Slater DVD available as of right now.  Great cinematography, awesome music and much more.

A very awesome insight to the most dominant pro surfer of all time.

Great cinematography and a good build up showcasing Kelly’s ups and downs throughout the year and most of all the intense rivalry between the two surfers and times where Kelly could have won the title, Andy Irons come through and win a competition and deny Slater again and again.

It was almost like a repeat of 2003 where Kelly dominated and it seems that everything was slipping away.  In what turned out to be one of the most awesome years of surfing because of the rivalry between he and Andy Irons, the whole documentary was intense and to see the things going through Slater’s mind was great to see.

In the end, Kelly was triumphant and won his seventh world title and a wonderful documentary of a man who has gone through so much personal strife but managed to overcome the odds to win his seventh championship.

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