Mood Over Matter
A quality documentary will not only draw in viewers with an interesting story, it will explain and explore the world it is trying to document. When the film is over, viewers will not only have been entertained, they will have learned something new.
Maverick's, a film about the beautiful sport of surfing, has a good story, but the problem is that it is roughly told. Those unsure of surf lingo or the sport's basics will find this hourlong documentary holds nothing more than pretty waves breaking on the shoreline and one-with-the-earth surfers lackadaisically blabbing on about the perfect wave.
The Clearwater Films project, directed and edited by Lili Schad and co-produced by Grant Washburn, attempts to tell the story of Maverick's, an isolated spot off the Northern California coast where some of the world's biggest waves break. The film spans seven years and witnesses the surf spot's growth from an unknown surfer's paradise to a media-documented haven for thrill seekers. It is a noble effort, and those involved in the film's production have an obvious love of surfing. But the film is so focused on the insider's gossip and minutiae of the surfing world that it quickly loses the attention of those who might just want to learn a little more about the unique sport.
Dreamy background surf music provided by The Mermen and shot after shot of glorious waves breaking on top of one another send the viewer into a sort of Zenlike state as the film progresses. But the project never quite captures exactly what it is that drives the small group of male surfers to risk their lives season after season. To be fair, it may not be the filmmakers' fault.
After all, they are interviewing surfers.
"The waves, they're just so... good," one says. His ethereal smile and mellow attitude are sweet, but many of the interviewees quickly prove they're better on the surfboard than in front of the camera.
Watching this surfing documentary is sort of like going out on a date with a supercute guy who talks obsessively about himself the whole time. Now imagine that the guy is a surfer, who punctuates his upspeak with "yeah" and "dude" and "wipe out" without batting a self-conscious eyelid. Sure, he's good-looking, but in the end he has just bored you to death.
Maverick's plays at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., Thursday, April 29, at the Rice Media Center.
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