Sunday, August 17, 2003

Step Into Liquid (IMDB) (Netflix)
A documentary about surfing, in the tradition of The Endless Summer and The Endless Summer 2, done by the people who gave you Endless Summer and Endless Summer 2 (it's not a big genre). From California and Hawaii to less obvious locales such as Ireland's County Donegal, Vietnam's DaNang and Wisconsin's Sheboygan, we're treated to intimate, hypnotic shots of the best surfers riding the biggest waves with the latest surfing technology, and more humorous takes on the most successfully self-deluded ones (the Sheboygan guys, of course) and the kids. To the filmmakers and their subjects, surfing is far more than a sport, it's a search for higher truth and beauty that Plato would applaud.

As did the audience. Although Step Into Liquid is clearly an uncritical love letter to the lifestyle, the photography, editing, music — and most of all the subjects — make you long for its simplicity and intensity. Sell the condo, chuck the Bimmer, get a VW Microbus and head for the ocean. Other than stirring that subversive impulse, a family-friendly film.