With "Dragonslayer," director Tristan Patterson brings a gentle lyricism to an aimless year following Orange County skateboarder Josh "Skreech" Sandoval.
A semi-professional, Sandoval spends much of his time drinking, smoking pot and alternately placing in and flubbing competitions. "I don't win," he informs the camera, just before explaining to a young fan he's only now come back from a spell that left him too depressed to skate. Perennially broke and occasionally homeless, at one point, Sandoval's happy just to pitch his tent in a friend's backyard.
As the film, divided into 11 impressionistic chapters, progresses, now and again, he will visit with his infant son; mostly he hangs out, on the road, in the skate park or drained pool or with his new girlfriend. Before shooting "Dragonslayer," Patterson worked as a screenwriter, and his documentary debut carries the imprint of experimental narrative filmmaking à la Gus Van Sant.
Weaving Flip cam footage logged by Sandoval and company with shimmering scenes of bonfires, drive-ins and road trips shot with moody elegance by cinematographer Eric Koretz, a youth culture backdropped by the crumbling edge of California is rendered with punk rock energy and grace.
"Dragonslayer." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.