Reviews

Corey Adams & Alex Craig

USA/Canada, 2009

Credits

Review by Rumsey Taylor

Posted on 03 May 2010

Source 35mm print

Categories The 2010 Independent Film Festival Boston

Machotaildrop concerns young Walter, and his adventures are set forth by the compilation of his best skateboarding moves on a VHS cassette. One of his signatures is a 180° ollie off a grade of four or five stairs, and we watch in grimaces as he performs this trick over and over, smacking repeatedly into the pavement, until he gets it right. Walter thumbs ups his cameraman, and they proceed to stage some other, increasingly death-defying trick.

The rhythm of Machotaildrop is determined by Walter’s talent and drive, both of which are magnified by his acceptance (or endorsement) into the business of the title—imagine Adidas by way of Hogwarts School. Walter’s entry into Machotaildrop’s premises is equivalent to a theme park attraction based on a James Bond villain hideout: he is flown to an undisclosed location, taxied to a nondescript cavern (it has a wooden door at its mouth), and from here clambers onto a miniature train that will transport him to his quarters. Before the the skateboarding resumes – and peculiarly, from this point forward the film isn’t really about skateboarding – Walter must select an outfit; he opts for pilot pants, knee socks, and a vest.

From here things get increasingly more bizarre. There’s an older marquee skateboarder who’s threatened by Walter’s presence, field trips to film skateboarding moves in uncharted locations, and a rival gang, named the Man Wolfs. And there’s a capitalistic baron at the center of it all, who’s exploiting the talents of Machotaildrop’s endorsees in order to build an amusement park. As weird as all this may seem, know that it’s all somehow in service to the concepts of idolatry and capitalism.

As an amalgamation of different visual signatures – there’s some Wes Anderson coming-of-age thematics, some Wizard of Oz adventure, some Harry Potter, some Warriors, and even some allusions to Alejandro Jodorowsky – Machotailtrop is perhaps too much of a pastiche for its own good. It’s at once too surreal, too ridiculous, and too earnest in concerning the maturation of young Walter into a more humble competitor. That said, it’s nothing if not unique, a film that cannot be adequately summated in a single sentence.

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