It's possible that Josh "Skreech" Sandoval is the most irritating subject in documentary history: A sometime pro skater who lugs his toddler son and 19-year-old girlfriend to ragged-looking competitions, he's both compelling and completely repellent. That's not necessarily a rap on Tristan Patterson's visually striking portrait of Sandoval, however; broken into 11 semi-arbitrary segments, Dragonslayer captures the aimless, ad hoc nature of this young man's life, leaving open the question of whether Sandoval is a free spirit or simply a leech.
A perpetual vagabond, this feral SoCal resident seeks out abandoned homes with empty pools and turns them into makeshift skate parks. (Turns out the economic downturn has provided him with plenty of options.) To judge from the eager Swedes who ask Sandoval to autograph issues of Thrasher, the talented twentysomething has, or at least had, a following, even sponsors; an awestruck fan's description gives the film its title. But Patterson didn't make a skate film: There's little in the way of boardsmanship, and even the wipeouts are tame. For a tagalong doc, Dragonslayer is remarkably well shot, with a worn-in quality that belies its digital origins. Appropriately, the driving energy of skate-punk is M.I.A.; the movie's ambling, go-with-the-flow pace only enhances the sense that Skreech may be going nowhere.
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