Riding Giants

I grew up in San Diego in the 1960’s and surfer culture was pervasive. It was just so cool, even if you never stood on a board (I managed to lay on one in Mission Bay once). It was always an endless summer, even for non-surfers.

Because I didn’t get to see Step into Liquid last year, I wanted to make sure I saw Riding Giants. The movie is a documentary that gives the history of US surfing up to 1948 in about two minutes and then documents the slow swell of the ranks of big wave surfers in Hawaii and California until the present day. It documents  developments in the sport to include tow-in and short board/snow board style surfing in order to ride the big ones surfers cannot paddle out to catch. Included in this history is the influence of Hollywood on surfing when, due to Gidget and other films, the number of surfers grew from 5000 to a couple of million between 1959 and 1964.

I thought it was an awesome film and I stayed with it right through the credits (do not leave; stay for the credits for some excellent interviews.) I had just seen the story of Laird Hamilton on one of the TV news programs and 40 minutes or so of this film tells his story, how he developed the more recent aspects of the sport and his tremendous influence on it. I was very interested to note that through Hamilton’s influence the sport has moved from being highly individual to a 3-member team sport because of the tow-in.

This is not a comprehensive film about surfing (for example, is there really only one female big wave surfer?) Laird is one of the producers, so it is personal for him. But one might say that’s OK, and rightly so. His contribution to the sport is controversial because of the tow in, but no matter. This is a film about being one with nature, in total respect and affection.

Impressive, stunning visuals, especially when Hamilton caught the big one in Tahiti.

Took my breath away.


Danny Deckchair

Remember Hugh Grant’s rather hygeine-challenged house-mate in Notting Hill, played so effectively by Rhys Ifans? Let me tell you, he cleans up very nicely in the quirky Australian comedy, Danny Deckchair.

Danny is a brick-layer who lives in Sydney with his girl friend Trudy,  real estate agent. He has his holiday all planned: a camping trip up north. Trudy makes a work appointment she cannot break (and doesn’t really want to) and lies to Danny about why they can’t go on vacation. They plan a barbeque instead for the coming weekend. Danny overhears Trudy calling him one of the “little people” of the earth…

Things aren’t going so well when Danny discovers Trudy’s lie and it’s too late to call off the barbeque. While at the store Danny gets some big balloons and he and his friends blow them up and attach them to a … deckchair. By mistake, they let go, and sure enough, the chair takes off with Danny in it.

He lands very ungracefully in Glenda’s back yard. She lives in a small town (think Wizard of Oz) and is the only parking cop there. She takes him in… In the space of about ten days he becomes the campaign manager for a local man and practically gets elected insead… and has some other adventures as well.

This is a charming romantic comedy about finding your soul mate and following your dream all the way home along a yellow brick road – kind of.

Oh, Glenda is played by Miranda Otto – of The Lord of the Rings fame.

No country does quirky so consistently and with so much charm as Australia. If you just want to enjoy a nice movie, try Danny Deckchair.