This Ain't California Reviews

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December 8, 2014
This Ain't California is immediately forthright about its re-enacted archival footage. If you've pursued skateboarding, you'd know that the best pros in the world (much less in East Germany) could not kickflip a roof gap in the mid-80s. And if you knew anything about filmmaking, it would seem impossible to find endless stacks of clips conveniently woven from multiple angles/takes of home video. But for those who view films critically, the opening montage signals what to expect, after protagonist Denis "Panik" Paracek looks straight into the camera with stage blood oozing from his lips (in an obvious jump-ramp accident horror sequence) and smiles fiendishly before the film transitions to first chapter (entitled "The Legend"). While the story of "Panik" is indeed legend, Marco Sladek was a well-known GDR freestyler whose meeting with American pro Eric Dressen at East Berlin was documented in the December 1988 issue of Thrasher. Patrick Steffens, the California surfer-type, must be real. No one today could drop in on a bank at full speed and handstand across the entire length of Alexanderplatz, complete with short shorts, period-correct equipment, amongst hundreds of appropriately-dressed onlookers. In contrast to Stacy Peralta's legend of the elusive Animal Chin, we all know Panik. He is an everyman and is "everywhere, bringing skaters together."
October 11, 2014
THIS AIN'T A DOCUMENTARY. I saw this film back in 2012 as part of a festival jury. What strikes me is that the producers are trying to market it as a documentary, while it is clearly not. At best, this film is a mockumentary. Its protagonists are compositions of several real-life people into cinematically and dramaturgically working characters. The "protagonists" themselves are played by well-known and less well-known actors. The overvoice is of a well-known actor. And unfortunately most of the "original footage" about skaters in the GDR is NOT ORIGFINAL FOOTAGE from some archive, but very smartly re-created footage. You could also say it is "re-enacted". That material looks and feels very authentic - but it is not.
In the version I saw there was NO reference in the closing titles about all this. Which is the big problem I have with this film. This COULD be a great film if the producers were sincere about what it is - a dramatized, fictionalized, re-created and very well shaped, colored and "artificially aged" mockumentary. But if I look at the category it is inserted here at Rotten Tomatoes... they apparently still follow the strategy of "don't ask, don't tell". Hence, once again: THIS AIN'T A DOCUMENTARY.
November 3, 2012
I am an old skater from the Czech Republic, and some of the characters of the movie which tells a person unknown. The movie is not fiction. Everything in the movie is going on on real events, real people in real time and place. It all really happened. In some places there are more people stories merged into the stories of one man. The reason is to simplify for the uninitiated viewer, nothing else. The movie would otherwise Powdered into a large number of stories, and the viewer would be enough to navigate. Very accurately displays the time, worries and feelings that we had her from the world. At times I felt as if the movie told about me and my friends. Some of them still appear in contemporary shots, including their real names. It is true that none of the skaters did not die as a soldier in Afghanistan. The expressive value of the film it does not mean anything. I see this as an effort to strengthen the end of the movie. I think that was the aim which the rebels fled in old age, and how different are on the job. In my country it is the same, and often above those paradoxes shaking my head.
July 30, 2012
Very interesting movie on the skating culture in East Berlin and East Germany, and the free life of teenagers in that period of changing History. The old footage is amazing, the soundtrack is superb!
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