29 March 2013 | clbennett-645-203099
I didn't think it was possible to make a boring surf movie, but Jack McCoy managed it. The premise of "A Deeper Shade of Blue" is a good one: the history of the evolution of surfing from its roots in Hawaii. But the film is really a series of vignettes about several contemporary surfers--a couple with "retro" qualities, but none among the many pioneers who are still with us. Familiar, and apparently now mandatory, segments on terrifying barrels at Teahoupoo and Shipstern are inter-spliced with a thin historical narrative, that altogether would barely fill a Wikipedia page. It jumps all over the place (the narrator has to explain one non-sequitir by saying "we are getting ahead of our story"), and is accompanied by frustratingly brief clips from older surf films (what, were the royalties too steep to afford to show a complete ride?). The dialog is the kind of drivel that early surfing magazine editors like Drew Kampion tried so hard to rise above. (The exception is Gerry Lopez, who, with typical modesty, attributes his mastery of Pipeline to having a more advanced board than the other surfers at the time.)
The introductory "panel discussion" is embarrassing in it's self indulgence. The "stars" of the movie fawn over McCoy, and McCoy fawns over them and over Paul McCartney (who is not there). The Marshall brothers seem to think they are Hollywood hipsters channeling Mickey Dora and Johnny Fain, but would Dora ever have asked "Gee, Jack, did you actually meet Paul McCartney?
For insight into Hawaiian surf culture, Dan Brown's documentary "Surfing for Life" is head and shoulders above "Deeper Shade of Blue," even though it is not the former film's primary theme. I didn't expect Jack Mcoy to be Ken Burns, but I expected much better. A film history of surfing still begs to be made.