This Ain’t California Screen 5 articles

This Ain’t California


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  • 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.

  • It's imprudent to rebuke a film for being "fake" when its true aim is to capture a mood, or, in the specific case of This Ain't California, an ideal. Ultimately, the film is an examination of countercultures, the ways they form, how they prosper as communities, and what threatens their foundation.

  • While it might eventually invite you to question its judgment as “nonfiction”—an animated sequence near the end depicts unlikely enlistee Denis’s final surrender to enemy fire in Afghanistan—the film is nonetheless appealingly locked in for its charting of anarchic energies.

  • Described in the publicity notes as a “hybrid documentary” — whose degree of fictionalization is still being debated — “This Ain’t California” offers a vivid immersion in the hidden skateboarding culture of the former East Germany.

  • [The film] runneth over with indelible characters and setpieces, from the mustachioed Patrick Steffens... to a 1988 “Euroskate” competition that brings together the best skaters from the Eastern Bloc. Did that really happen? Google says yes, but who can be sure? Did the skaters eventually come under surveillance by the Stasi, who, in an effort to curb their subversive pastime, had competitive skate jumping declared an official national sport? Maybe not, but it makes for terrific cinema.

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