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RIDING GIANTS

This film from Stacy Peralta might seem like a variation on the Endless Summer series (like last yearís Step into Liquid), but the director has put his own stamp on the surf documentary. For one thing, he traces the sportís origins back to the ancient Polynesians before turning his attention to contemporary daredevils. He took a similar tact with his debut film, Dogtown and Z Boys, chronicling the evolution of skateboarding from the Malibu surf scene to Tony Hawk (Peralta himself was one of the Z Boys). Here his Tony Hawk is Laird Hamilton, the pioneering force behind "tow-in" surfing (which allows boarders to ride the giant multi-story waves of the title) and the master of the most perilous pipe ride ever recorded on film. Greg Noll, though, takes charge of the movie; a portly party animal, he recalls the 60-footer he rode in the middle of a monsoon that hit the Hawaiian coast in the í60s. Surf-guitar maestro Dick Dale also makes an appearance, and there are plenty of bone-crushing wipe-outs, but itís the surfers braving the Mavericks of Northern California who thrill the most. Since 1975, theyíve been risking life and limb to catch the waves that break on those jagged rock cliffs. When one is lost, Peralta records the moment with dignity and grace. (105 minutes)

BY TOM MEEK

Issue Date: August 6 - 12, 2004
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