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SBIFF

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (Review)
updated: Feb 03, 2012, 8:29 AM

By Mahil Senathirajah

Skate gods descended on the Arlington last night and a throng of the devout emerged to greet them. In a remarkable part of the festival, a raucous crowd that shows up for the mid-week To the Maxx film and not much else (no one has a pass). This year, the film was Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, coming off six screenings at Sundance. Made by Santa Barbara native Stacey Peralta, the film is a hugely entertaining chronicle of the development of the skate crew in the 1980’s. Like Peralta’s groundbreaking Dogtown and Z-Boys, the film provides both a lively history of the skaters’ rise to fame and fortune as well as vivid, very personal portraits of their psychological struggles and triumphs. Bones Brigade included superstar Tony Hawk, underage wunderkind Steve Caballero, skate-jester Lance Mountain, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero and publicity prankster Craig Stecyk. However, it is introverted, troubled Rodney Mullen who voices heartfelt, emotionally insightful pieces of empowering skate/life philosophy, some of which drew spontaneous applause, including the value of letting go of competition and pursuing your own path. All were bravely self-revelatory.

The film also has a sense of humor, showing the crew in vintage 1980s dork-wear: white, knee high sports socks, tight gym shorts and chunky knee pads encasing skinny legs. Other bits of fun included the recounting of their unexpected invitation to George Harrison’s castle for dinner by his son, cutting a car in half and setting it on fire for a print ad and clips from their cheesy Animal Chin video. But it is the footage of the fearless misfits inventing and committing jaw dropping acts of flight, including the first 540, that is the most viscerally compelling. The film includes brief interviews with Shepard Fairey, Fred Durst and Ben Harper.

Most of the team reunited on stage last night for the Q&A, conveying the connection and affection that still remains among them.

If you liked Bones Brigade, Stunt Sport featuring breaking, tricking and parkour, plays on Saturday, also made by local filmmakers, the McKaig brothers.

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