There are hundreds of examples of a good documentary. Very few stand out as illuminating as others, and Dogtown and Z-Boys is one of the best. It incorporates all of the elements of a powerful doc. It educates, it has an interesting topic, and it moves the audience through exposing various details of the topic. But the best, most powerful docs, are the ones that really use the freedom of editing and music.
In this look back at an incredible period in the evolution of skateboarding, Stacy Peralta and his old pals from Dogtown are presented in an editing template that is its own being. The excellent blending of interviews, still photos, video footage from the 1970s, a soundtrack to die for, and some clever film editing effects propels the whole experience. This is enhanced by the intimate stories each of these people have to tell.
As I previously noted, Lords of Dogtown is still up, along with this original at Crackle. It’s interesting to compare the two; Jeff Ho, for instance, is not included in the fictional account. The real Z-Boys make obscure appearances throughout Lords, including a scene where Jay Adams interacts with Emile Hirsch, playing young Jay. And also, the actor who played Tony Alva in Lords looks a helluva lot just like him. I also love how both movies payed homage to the things that made the team great, from Pacific Ocean Park, to the fan who was dying of cancer. Watch the documentary first, then the true-to-its-source movie.