Take Ev­ery Wave: The Life of Laird Hamil­ton

TAKE EV­ERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMIL­TON, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, Vi­o­let Crown Cinema, 3 chiles

Pasatiempo - - CONTENT -

Sum­mer is over, but the surf’s up at Vi­o­let Crown. Be­gin­ning Fri­day, Nov. 3, the theater cel­e­brates Laird Hamil­ton, the world’s most renowned big-wave surfer. Even though he never com­peted on the pro-surf­ing cir­cuit, Hamil­ton has won global fame for his will­ing­ness to ride the big­gest and most pow­er­ful waves any­one has seen on the planet — waves up to 100 feet tall, so far out from shore that Hamil­ton has to hitch a ride on a jet ski to reach them. He has surfed around the globe but is most rec­og­nized for be­ing the first to ride the no­to­ri­ous Jaws waves of Pe’ahi on the north shore of Hawaii, where he lives.

The bi­o­graph­i­cal doc­u­men­tary Take Ev­ery Wave an­chors the cel­e­bra­tion, cap­tur­ing Hamil­ton’s grit, brav­ery, icon­o­clas­tic out­look, and the stead­fast ded­i­ca­tion that has left him fight­ing, though he’s now over fifty and start­ing to wear out, phys­i­cally. You want to cheer him on, but you also see how his sin­gu­lar pas­sions have wreaked havoc with his life, tear­ing at his mar­riage to for­mer beach-vol­ley­ball star Gabrielle Reece as well as caus­ing fric­tion with his clos­est surf bud­dies, es­pe­cially those who joined his team and sweated through his most grandiose ad­ven­tures.

It’s said Hamil­ton suf­fers from a “fear de­fect,” mean­ing he ab­so­lutely dis­re­gards the risks and dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with his style of tow-surf­ing. Hamil­ton ac­knowl­edges as much him­self but says the ocean has al­ways been his fa­vorite hide­away. It’s the place he went as a child to recharge after get­ting into fights with his Hawai­ian class­mates, who re­sented him for be­ing the only white kid in the neigh­bor­hood. Yes, he can be cocky and ar­ro­gant, but his aquatic skills are jaw- drop­ping and awe­some, cap­tured here by in­cred­i­ble drone-based cam­er­a­work.

This would seem an un­usual sub­ject for the di­rec­tor, Rory Kennedy, the youngest child of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy. She is best known for mak­ing tough, po­lit­i­cal films, in­clud­ing Last Days in Viet­nam and

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. Then again, Hamil­ton makes for a rather tow­er­ing and stoic pro­file in courage, so this isn’t an un­fath­omable reach by the di­rec­tor.

Lead­ing up to the open­ing, three ear­lier films will be shown, all featuring Hamil­ton in what Vi­o­let Crown has dubbed the Big Wave film se­ries. The most breath­less photography can be found in Step Into

Liq­uid, a 2003 doc from Dana Brown that in­tro­duces sev­eral top-flight surfers who demon­strate their fear­less moves, rid­ing tow­er­ing waves in their fa­vorite “wa­ter­ing holes” around the globe. Stacy Per­alta’s

Rid­ing Gi­ants of­fers a his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. The 2004 film de­tails the ori­gins of surf cul­ture in the 1950s and its ex­plo­sive growth after the re­lease of Gid­get in 1959. We also meet the ath­letic ti­tans of the sport — not just Hamil­ton but leg­endary dare­dev­ils like Buzzy Ker­box, Gerry Lopez, and Greg Noll as well.

The fi­nal se­lec­tion is a rar­ity. North Shore is a 1987 drama about a young Ari­zona boy (Matt Adler) who comes to Hawaii to try his luck at com­pet­i­tive surf­ing. Gre­gory Har­ri­son sur­faces as his bo­hemian men­tor, and Nia Pee­bles is his hot girl­friend. Hamil­ton ap­pears in this one, play­ing against type — he’s a vi­o­lent, cheat­ing cad who will do any­thing to de­feat Adler and take the prize in Hawaii’s big­gest con­test. This isn’t ex­actly Os­car-wor­thy ma­te­rial, but the ac­tion-filled twists are plenty of fun, backed by de­cent surf­ing stunts in­volv­ing Hamil­ton and Gerry Lopez.

— Jon Bow­man

Per­ma­nent waves: Laird Hamil­ton

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