All This Mayhem ***1/2 (out of five)
The less you know about Tas and Ben Pappas, the skateboarding brothers from Melbourne who are the subject of Eddie Martin’s excellent documentary, the more you’ll have your eyes opened – first to the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of this unique sport, then specifically to this tale of two brothers who flew too close to the sun.
At first, its a charming, if not ground-breaking, peek at skating from a Melbourne perspective – specifically, the “Prahan scene” that grew up around a particular ramp in that suburb. As it goes on, and the Pappas brothers grow in stature, the sport reveals its contradictions, personalities, lingo (there’s a lot of lingo, particularly coming out of the mouth of Tas Pappas, and it’s great fun) and dangers – the ones you’d expect and the darker ones you may not.
Although, on the surface, the film is constructed simply – with interviews and archival footage – it really is constructed impeccably well. Martin and his editor Chris King do extremely mature things with tone, allowing us gently and humorously into a story that gains incremental, then monumental, heft. If, like me, the sport and the Pappas brothers aren’t familiar to you, there is a thrilling and disturbing story here, with a fully realised and exotic milieu, heroes, villains, a compelling story arc, and gasp-inducing twists and turns. Excellent. Or, I should say, sick. I was stoked.