Stoked: the Rise and Fall of Gator: DVD

Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator

Whatever you think of the murdering scumbag, the movie that deals with his downfall is pretty good. It’s almost a better chronicle of the time period in general as opposed to a strict documentary on Gator. Good footage and interviews. Jason Jesse provides essential comic relief a la Wentzl Rummel in Dog Town. Some more highlights include Gator’s famous arrest scene for punching out a cop in Virginia Beach, Gator losing his shit over a bad street session, and Gator just being a dick in general. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Gator’s psyche that hints that he still hasn’t accepted full responsibility for his heinous crime. DVD extras are not much more than a little more home video, a pre-release promotional piece about the making of it, and some pool footage of Gator and Jesse from the era.

The film maker Helen Stickler did a good job of documenting the industry’s rise and fall as mirrored by Gator. Stoked presents vibe and energy of industry heyday without resorting to embarrassing attempts to pander to sense of hipness, other than by those in the film. Stickler does such a good job of enveloping the audience in the era that it is almost possible to forget what is coming. Considering her marginal if any background in skating, you might wonder why she made this film. Would this movie be interesting to a non-skating public? It’s less lurid than most of the behind the scenes cable TV exposes. In contrast to the respectful way the film handles the gruesome death of an innocent person, the packaging of the film and in particular the web site have a more glamorous marketing feel that is disturbing considering the fact we’re talking about murder here, not selling skateboards. Stoked was made with Gator’s cooperation, which helps the film’s legitimacy quite a bit. Prison rules prohibit video tape, so gator’s participation is all via audio recordings and the phone. Gator at times seems human, but ultimately fails as a human being in taking complete and unconditional responsibility for his actions, at least as far as Stoked goes. Fortunately, Helen does not trip over herself trying to apologize for Gator or put a human face on a monster. The viewer is presented with some details as well as Gator’s own narrations and is left with a pretty good start on understanding just how much of a mess Mark “gator” Anthony is. You may feel sorry for his failings up until the point that he cracks, because of course, none of it is justified.

Stoked is a thoroughly entertaining and ultimately very depressing film.

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