STOKED : The Rise and Fall of Gator (Helen Stickler, 2002)
Following Dogtown and Z-Boys, this other documentary about the subculture of skateboarding reveals one of its darkest sides. The rise of Mark « Gator » Rogowsky as one of the most well paid Vert skater of his time; the 1980’s. And then, its fall into depression, huge egomaniacal, and inviction for rape and murder at the first degree.
All along the doc, the interviews are filled with a gaze of malaise even if ten years passed since the sad acts were committed. You have a mix of this malaise with some admiration to the persona that Rogowsky created for himself. It is however obvious that he had personal problems. Those aren’t really aborded and it is one of the major flaws of the documentary of only highlighting his professional career and forgetting his past.
Since, the subject of the movie isn’t sympathetic to the viewer, it is difficult to be totally interested in his rise since his fall was so hard. The human curiosity is what it is and it is hard to not watch it and actually be entertained to watch a despicable character fall on his knees. But this time the subject is a real person and the events are real facts.
As I criticized in my review of Dogtown and Z-Boys the soundtrack, I can’t praise enough the underground choice of more obscure or less mainsteram bands like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, and many others. It is a more intimate movie and an outsider of the skate world would be a little confused by the subtleties of the skating genres and how the scene evolved. It is, still, an essential viewing to anyone interested in skateboarding and it demonstrates how the American dream can terribly go wrong. It shows how someone can be famous, rich, be loved can go over the edge and loose everything. It is worth a look but I would recommend it to anyone who skates.