Friday, August 22, 2008

"Surfwise" - When Life really is a Beach

What the hell do you know about surfing?
You're from god damned New Jersey. - Lieutenant Kilgore, Apocalypse Now

A crazed megalomaniac who curses himself for not stopping an execution which occurred when he was at the “height of my powers”; A man who wanted to breed his own master race using his strong will and strict diet and discipline along with an appointed lieutenant who acted as enforcer; A man who used these young warriors to forge a separate society, outside the trappings of the opulent capitalist one which he despised. Adolph Hitler? No- a devout yet potty-mouthed Jewish doctor turned surfer named Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz.

Leaving all the trappings of an ordinary life, ‘Doc’ and his wife raise nine children in a 24 foot camper, instead of sending them to school –they take them on series of surf adventures cross-country. How could a documentary about such a bizarre Jewish doctor who becomes surf Nazi mean anything to anyone? Because unlike so many loud meaningless films coming out these days, “Surfwise” actually questions the meaning of life and the direction of our society but in a way that is not preachy. Director Doug Pray carefully paddles us through various moods and emotions. As the children age and try to actually enter society we feel their frustrations. (With one strange scene featuring a son emotionally lip synching his own song about it) The end result is entertaining, smartly filmed and edited with a great soundtrack to boot. Life’s a wave, but how many swim out and try to grab it? Is that one surf metaphor too many dudes?

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