Another busy week up here leading to another low tally…perhaps that will be the theme of the year ahead? At least it was a two screening week…with more to come in the week ahead. So then again maybe low tally won’t be the theme of the year.

#52FilmsByWomen continued this week with Catherine Hardwicke’s LORDS OF DOGTOWN.


Hardwicke is a director with a curious track record. She first rose to prominence after co-writing and directing THIRTEEN in 2003. It’s a pretty amazing film; one that hit the system like a bucket of ice water at the time. Hardwicke based the script on some of co-star (an co-writer) Nikki Reed’s real-life experiences, so the story poses as a “Think you know your teenage daughters?” challenge. Under a different set of rules, I would be writing about that movie.

However, Hardwicke is most well-known as the director of the first TWILIGHT movie. I’m not a fan of the Twilight series in the least, but I understand why many young girls are. To that end, all I will say is that they deserved a better movie than the blue-tinted, emo-fuelled, toothless (sorry I couldn’t resist) offering that Hardwicke started the franchise with.

But in-between those two movies, Hardwicke directed LORDS OF DOGTOWN.

Hardwicke began her career as a production designer, and when one considers films like DOGTOWN (or her later effort, RED RIDING HOOD), it’s easy to see that she hasn’t left her production design sensibilities very far behind. DOGTOWN comes with a very specific aesthetic. It’s not just interested in showing us the lives of late 1970’s skaters, it wants to look like a movie from the late 1970’s. The colour palette, the grime, the beautiful dinginess of every set and scene in the film seems designed to evoke a time and place. Were it not for some trick shots where the camera gets on the board, one might believe that it was a forty year old movie.

The other interesting thing about LORDS OF DOGTOWN is the way it’s the most macho movie I’ve seen in the eleven movies I’ve watched for the series so far. True, part of that comes down to it being the first movie of the project that is unquestionably male-driven…but it’s more than that. This is a film that struts, a film that stands up with its chest puffed and boasts. Seeing these skaters compete, hang out, and generally act like dicks feels like a story that is specifically told from the Y Chromosome. It leads me to believe that it’s easier for a woman to tap into the male psyche than it is for the inverse. We’ll revisit that when I get to Kathryn Bigelow.

Unfortunately, DOGTOWN is also a messy movie. It doesn’t have enough tension to work as a standard KARATE KID-esque against the odds competition movie, and it also isn’t quite subdued enough to work as a chill “hangin’ out” movie. It’s somewhere in the middle; a place that’s harmless enough when you’re in it, but becomes forgettable later.

Hardwicke is a director I hope carves out a slightly better niche for herself soon. Undoubtedly, she has talent, but her project choices have been all over the map. Thinking back on THIRTEEN and soaking-up LORDS OF DOGTOWN made me wish she’d use her talents more for movies like those, and waste less time on TWILIGHT and THE NATIVITY STORY.

Here’s hoping!


Here’s the week at hand…


CHI-RAQ – Welcome back Spike…it’s been a while.
THE BRONZE – Messy, but entertaining.


Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
MAN UP – Simon Pegg and Lake Bell are pretty damned cute in this grown-up rom-com.
LOVE IS STRANGE – A beautiful bummer.
LORDS OF DOGTOWN – I feel like I should see the documentary now.
TORCH SONG – I fell hard for the Technicolor palette in this movie.


Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
JURASSIC PARK – Just upgraded my dvd to blu-ray this week, thus a re-watch was in order.
TOOTSIE – “How do you feel about Cleveland?”
ROCKY III – Lindsay and Sasha are working their way through the series. I came home from work just in-time.
THE KING OF COMEDY – TCM held a Jerry Lewis marathon on Wednesday night. Gotta love flipping channels at the right moment.
BRIDESMAIDS – I feel like this movie doesn’t get enough credit.


Boxscore for The Year
45 First-Timers, 39 Re-Watched
14 Screenings
84 Movies in Total

How’s about you – seen anything good?