Di­a­mondz are for­ever

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

HILL STREET

Di­rected by JJ Rolfe G cert, Light House, Dublin; Movies@Gorey, Wex­ford, 82 min

To­wards the be­gin­ning of this very en­joy­able doc­u­men­tary on the skate­board­ing scene in Ire­land, Damien Cody, a vet­eran of the sport, muses how es­tranged he and his co-con­spir­a­tors orig­i­nally felt.

“It was not nor­mal,” he says. “Dublin is just so far from the ori­gins of skate­board­ing.”

He has a point. There are dif­fer­ing sto­ries as to the ori­gins of skate­board­ing, but most agree that it kicked off in and about Los Angeles in the rock’n’roll years. Maybe it was surfers look­ing for a way to bust moves when the waves weren’t up. Maybe it was val­ley kids who didn’t live within walk­ing dis­tance of the ocean. Ei­ther way, the funk and the sauce of skate­board­ing is very tied up with the beach­side life­style.

Like the mak­ers of Waverid­ers, the 2009 doc­u­men­tary on Ir­ish surf­ing, JJ Rolfe and his team have dragged up some in­ter­na­tional celebri­ties to dis­cuss those dis­tant be­gin­nings. You can’t re­ally have a skate­board­ing doc­u­men­tary with­out Tony Hawk and, sure enough, the great man turns up to talk us through the Old Tes­ta­ment.

As we have ob­served so of­ten in the mu­sic scene, the Ir­ish have a gift for mak­ing un­likely for­eign pop cul­ture their own. Util­is­ing some de­li­ciously nos­tal­gic archival footage (one snip­pet, date-stamped 1988, shows kids mak­ing the best of an im­pro­vised ramp), Hill Street ad­dresses the rise of skate­board­ing dur­ing the re­ces­sion years.

The John the Bap­tist of the scene turns out to be one Clive Rowen, pro­pri­etor of a vi­tal specialist shop on Dublin’s North­side. Rowen has been around long enough to re­mem­ber man­u­fac­tur­ing boards from planks and can­ni­balised skates. He later brought the scene’s US royalty to Dublin.

Ex­panded from a ver­sion shown at the Jame­son Dublin Film Fes­ti­val two years ago, Hill Street will be an easy sell to afi­ciona­dos, but there is enough pe­riph­eral ma­te­rial here to ex­cite any­one in­ter­ested in zip­pier so­cial his­tory. Fairly rad stuff.

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