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Dragonslayer
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
If you've come to "Dragonslayer" because you're a skating enthusiast, the film is much more about a lifestyle than about a sport. Tristan Patterson's documentary is a bleak and uncompromising look at a fringe subculture that exists for momentary thrills and the quick fix. The filmmakers are right up in the competition action, the random lawlessness, the drug fueled bliss, and the alcoholic camaraderie of former skating legend Josh "Skreech" Sandoval and his friends as they navigate a world of complete freedom and limited possibilities. The hook is that Skreech is no longer a real competitive skater (although he clearly has a following), but facing a crossroads with a new baby and a blossoming relationship. Is it possible for his homelessness and indifference to coexist with impending adult responsibilities? The film doesn't necessarily intend to answer that question (or any questions) but to give you a completely immersive experience into his world. His world just happens to be getting more complicated.

"Dragonslayer" is an entry point into this milieu. With rather random chapter stops, jagged editing, and a propulsive soundtrack--again this is much more about a mood, an environment, than about conventional narrative filmmaking. Everything is laid out for you. Some moments are incredibly sad, some hopeful, some funny, some repulsive, some surprising, and some completely mystifying. The skateboarders, in many ways, are real outsiders who refuse to grow up. And perhaps the most interesting thing, to me, is to see them in the crumbling economic world in which we now live. With the collapse of the real estate market, vacant houses with empty pools have provided an endless supply of skating adventures.

As a social experiment, "Dragonslayer" gives the viewer an all-access pass into a wholly unique world. Truthfully, probably not everyone would like to visit this world. With moments of strange beauty interspersed with more dire undercurrents, the movie makes no judgements on its subjects. They are, simply, what they are. Whether you want to spend time with them is a matter of personal taste. I think it's a movie well worth seeing for a number of reasons. My only caution is that the movie obviously has some pretty adult themes. Kids may want to see it for skateboarding, but that's not entirely what it's about. KGHarris, 5/12.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
DRAGONSLAYER (2011, 105 MINUTES) has some compelling qualities that required meditation on my part after I watched it. It centers on the life (a year or two?) of former skateboarder Josh Sandoval (a/k/a Skreech). This young man seems to be a sweet and somewhat innocent individual, but of course he has a diploma from the school of hard knocks and an arsenal of street smarts.

Amazing, since he also strikes the viewer as something of a simpleton. As my colleague reviewer here says, this is the fringe world of skaters and it is not pretty. Then something struck me as I watched Skreech drinking, getting high and acting like a fool: where were the parents of these people when the parenting mattered? As I watched in disgust and anger, I had to ask myself whether these people made themselves - or were they made into what they are? Squatting, homeless, coarse, vulgar, downright stupid and drug-addled.

Is it their fault? Skreech visits an apartment complex in his (native?) hometown of Freemont, California. It looks like the horrid 'council flats' they have in England, and Skreech tells a brief and tragic tale of hanging around the complex all alone. An eleven-year-old kid hiding in a dark corner of a poverty-stricken California apartment complex, smoking cigarettes. No wonder he spoke of the "shadow demon", a black entity that jumped across the rooftops and scared all the apartment dwellers.

This documentary made me think of my unbelievably enormous family, my nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. They are the direct result of my grandparents and parents; they are decent, hard-working but they are also somewhat lost. Broken homes, remarriages, endless moving. It made me see the denizens of the skating world in a totally different light. We were mostly wild when we were 19 but we expect the teens to act the way we do in the present. It is unjust, unfair and heartless.

No wonder they all turned out this way. Whether you follow skateboarding or not, this documentary is a must-see. It is a sociological study, an anthropological statement. The urban wasteland has produced this generation of relatively worthless young people who only want to drink, skate and do drugs. With no one except each other, and an endless, broken desert stretching before them, what else should we expect?
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on September 26, 2012
I'm just an average joe citizen, mom, older person, lol.... And I loved this. I have always enjoyed watching skaters but having broken my wrist falling off a STILL skateboard, lol, it isn't something I can do. I envy them. In any case, the movie delving into some of his life was so saddening and yet uplifting - very odd. His soul is obviously a bit tortured and he admits freely to depression and alot of kicks and thumps along the way. I don't know why his parents didn't intervene but I'm sure they tried. His girlfriend (is she still?) is about the sweetest thing ever, clearly just standing by him though he is definitely a bit self-centered. I feel for the ex, having to raise the child alone, too, whilst daddy just journeys and skates. But he comes around a little, the lil tot is adorable. LOL.... In any case, everyone has faults and it was gritty, tough, fun, hardcore, tender, sweet, sad... Just jagged and real. I've seen homeless situations and it's definitely hard to stay positive and succeed after that, especially with depression. You come away really hoping they all succeed, whatever happens. You gotta be there for your kids, people! :)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
If you've come to "Dragonslayer" because you're a skating enthusiast, the film is much more about a lifestyle than about a sport. Tristan Patterson's documentary is a bleak and uncompromising look at a fringe subculture that exists for momentary thrills and the quick fix. The filmmakers are right up in the competition action, the random lawlessness, the drug fueled bliss, and the alcoholic camaraderie of former skating legend Josh "Skreech" Sandoval and his friends as they navigate a world of complete freedom and limited possibilities. The hook is that Skreech is no longer a real competitive skater (although he clearly has a following), but facing a crossroads with a new baby and a blossoming relationship. Is it possible for his homelessness and indifference to coexist with impending adult responsibilities? The film doesn't necessarily intend to answer that question (or any questions) but to give you a completely immersive experience into his world. His world just happens to be getting more complicated.

"Dragonslayer" is an entry point into this milieu. With rather random chapter stops, jagged editing, and a propulsive soundtrack--again this is much more about a mood, an environment, than about conventional narrative filmmaking. Everything is laid out for you. Some moments are incredibly sad, some hopeful, some funny, some repulsive, some surprising, and some completely mystifying. The skateboarders, in many ways, are real outsiders who refuse to grow up. And perhaps the most interesting thing, to me, is to see them in the crumbling economic world in which we now live. With the collapse of the real estate market, vacant houses with empty pools have provided an endless supply of skating adventures.

As a social experiment, "Dragonslayer" gives the viewer an all-access pass into a wholly unique world. Truthfully, probably not everyone would like to visit this world. With moments of strange beauty interspersed with more dire undercurrents, the movie makes no judgements on its subjects. They are, simply, what they are. Whether you want to spend time with them is a matter of personal taste. I think it's a movie well worth seeing for a number of reasons. My only caution is that the movie obviously has some pretty adult themes. Kids may want to see it for skateboarding, but that's not entirely what it's about. KGHarris, 5/12.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2012
It is a rare thing for me to log on to write a review, but having watched this film on Netflix (UK) last night, I felt I must. This film captures a rare spirit in the skateboarder 'Screech' - and captures him with such style, empathy, and understanding.

It looks beautiful, the warm shots capturing what it means to be young and against the grain.

And young and against the grain is what Screech is, in a powerfully authentic way - an artist, no less, living off of his work and noteriety, like all good artists should.

This film reminded me of the beauty of living a life on one's own terms, being true to oneself, and simply having a good time.

It is a warm and powerful social document, and gave me a lot of hope that life is not as boring as it sometimes seems.

I can't recommend this film strongly enough.
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on September 9, 2014
amazing images, beautiful story
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on May 5, 2015
Awesome flick.
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