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"This Ain't California" offers a vivid immersion in the hidden skateboarding culture of the former East Germany.
A trove of home videos, vintage commercial and propaganda footage and black-and-white animation dress up this energetic if somewhat unfocused look at the birth of skateboarding in the German Democratic Republic.
It ain't bad, though all that detritus detracts from a far more interesting history lesson on repression and rebellion that's left on the periphery.
Martin Persiel's splendid "documentary" could well be subtitled "And It Ain't the Truth."
Whether faux found footage or not, This Ain't California is a joy ride, and not only for skateboarders or anyone else who experienced life on either side of the Berlin Wall.
There are some intriguing concepts here, but they are muddied by the needless flights of undeclared fancy, coming close to bad faith.
Fooling an audience should surely be done with honest and open mischief, not with sheepish postscripts from film-makers hoping we might have been hornswoggled.
A moving and energetic portrait, cushioned by a punching soundtrack, that poignantly tells the story of a carefree period in three teenage skateboarders' lives growing up in the German Democratic Republic.
A fun and frothy mock-doc with a message buried in its axle.
Persiel's film entertains, but the nagging sense that it's mostly a ruse limits true engagement.
The documentary examines how the American hip-hop movement-exposed to those of the GDR ... and in particular skateboarding and beatboxing were seen as creative outlets for the oppressed youth of the nation that had succumbed to 'grey boredom'.
Even knowing the artifice, it's an excellent and extremely enjoyable film. Indeed, knowing the artifice, it's way more impressive ... However true it isn't, it's a lovely evocation of what might have been.
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