Billboards, airplane-towed banners and the videogame young Walter Rhum plays every day at the bakery/skate shop he works at trumpet the notion that the widely worshipped skateboard company Machotaildrop is, in a word, "glorious." Walter wants nothing else in his boring suburban life than to earn a place among the top riders, like the haughty and heroic Blair Stanley. Dreams do come true, kidsafter he mails in his carefully assembled demo video, an elegantly handwritten invitation from the Baron himself arrives and Walter is soon whisked off to Machotaildrop's hidden headquarters, an opulent chateau where Walter is feted as the next big thing in skating. But is this really a dream come true, or a nightmare about to unfold? What exactly motivates this charming yet perplexing Baron and his strange attendants? What are his plans vis-à-vis the Manwolfs, a pack of feral skater miscreants Walter discovers in an abandoned amusement park? Why is Walter's idol, Blair Stanley, so foul-humoured all the time? And what is truly happening in the cavernous bowels of the Machotaildrop compound?
Skateboard culture certainly has its stack of motion-picture material, from endless indie rider videos through the incisive documentary DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS to the fairly ordinary sports dramas GRIND and THRASHIN'. But now, skate rats can claim their own fantastic filma sweet yet paranoid fairy-tale that blends the sympathetic quirkiness, clever understatement and exquisite visual polish of the post-millennial indie film wave with a bold surrealist sensibility echoing Fellini and Herzog as well as WILLY WONKA and THE PRISONER. MACHOTAILDROP aims first and foremost to amaze and amuse, and does so handily with its unusual characters and visual richesmuch of it was shot on the grounds of a stately manor outside Budapest, and production designer Jeffro Halliday's countless wise touches help the film look like it had a far greater budget (the kind that would never be laid out for such an off-the-wall oddball gem). But it also offers a few thoughts on youth and aging, innocent hopes and broken dreams, the simple pleasure of skateboarding for fun rather than profit and of course, the resonant power of Ape Snake! (Rupert Bottenberg, Fantasia International Film Festival)
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