She is the Ocean


Surf’s up!

(2018) Documentary (Blue FoxAnna Bader, Sylvia Earle, Coco Ho, Cinta Hansel, Keala Kennelly, Andrea Moller, Bruce Hansel, Kelly Slater, Ocean Ramsey, Rose Molina, Jeanne Chesser. Directed by Inna Blokhina

 

The ocean has many feminine traits; as a species, we came from the ocean. It is literally, the mother of all life. The ocean is giving; many nations rely on her for food and commerce. The ocean is patient; it is eternal and while it is capable of great fury, it is generally calm and peaceful.

This documentary focuses on nine women (all right, eight women and a preteen girl) who all possess a deep and abiding love for the sea, whether as surfers, divers, scientists or conservationists. The women are all profiled individually, although one – young Cinta Hansel, a preteen who has ambitions to become a pro surfer – has her story woven throughout the film, most of their stories are told in individual chapters.

I’m not sure how the nine women were selected; there are certainly plenty of women who have contributed to both the science of oceanography and marine biology, as well as to the sports of surfing. Molina, a yoga instructor and artist, doesn’t really do anything ocean-related; she just likes to dive and uses the sea as a backdrop for some of her art.

The stories can be inspiring, although that of pro surfer Coco Ho seems a bit less compelling than the others – Ho comes off as extremely shallow compared to the others. Hansel, whose father Bruce was a pro surfer – doesn’t even say much during the film, it’s mostly her father who does the talking. In a documentary which is supposed to be celebrating strong, empowered women, that seems a bit odd. However, a lot of dads with daughters should take note of his absolute devotion to helping her achieve her dreams; some parents seem less willing to do that for their daughters as opposed to their sons.

Also, the various chapters aren’t really in any sort of cohesive order; in a lot of ways, it feels more like an anthology than a singular work. I think as well that the film would have benefitted from fewer subjects which would have allowed a little more depth to their stories.

=The cinematography is pretty much spot-on, and I do recommend this as something parents with daughters will want to show their little girls. This is essentially a primer in how to chase one’s dreams and that’s something young girls don’t get nearly enough of (compared to young boys). While the movie overall is flawed, at least its heart is in the right place.

REASONS TO SEE: Portrays passionate, strong, committed women.
REASONS TO AVOID: Organized in a very haphazard method.
FAMILY VALUES: There are some scenes of marine animals in peril that may be difficult for sensitive adults and children to handle.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Sylvia Earle was the first woman to be the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the history of the organization.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Fandango Now, Redbox, Vudu, Virtual Cinema
CRITICAL MASS: As of 11/13/20: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Soul Surfer
FINAL RATING: 6/10
NEXT:
Bullets of Justice

And Two if By Sea: The Hobgood Brothers


Seeing double.

(2019) Sports Documentary (1091) Daniel Tosh (voice), CJ Hobgood, Damien Hobgood, Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Carissa Moore, Sal Masakela, Mick Fanning, Jordy (Smith, Brett Simpson, Clifton Hobgood, Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, Jack Robinson, Khloe Andino, Tanner Gudauskas, Pat Gudauskas, Keanu Asing, Peter King, Charlotte Hobgood, Courtney Hobgood, Maureen Hobgood, Rachel Hobgood. Directed by Justin Purser

 

Having an identical twin must be somewhat mind-blowing. I don’t know about you, but I would find it a bit freaky if there was someone who looked exactly like me wandering around (poor devil) and if I was essentially lumped in together with him, often being mistaken for him? I’m sure it would get old pretty fast.

Then again, there are some advantages to having a twin. There’s always someone there to drive you forward, to give you motivation to outdo them. Plus, if you’re ever caught doing a crime, you can always blame it on the twin.

The Hobgood brothers CJ and Damien are both pro surfers, both world champions on the tour. They hail from Satellite Beach, Florida which also happens to be the hometown of maybe the most decorated surfer of modern times, Kelly Slater. This irreverent documentary stands out from all the other surfing documentaries (and brother, trust me, there are many) in that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Comedian Daniel Tosh provides the voiceover narration and the graphics identifying the various interview subjects are if not outright funny (for the most part they are) are at least snarky.

The surfing footage surprisingly doesn’t dominate the screen time; most of it is pretty gnarly (in the parlance) but in all honesty I’ve seen gnarlier (is that even a word?) in other films. For those who haven’t viewed many surfing docs, it might look pretty intense but those who have seen more than a few will likely find it solid but unspectacular.

I do like the insights we get into what it takes to be a pro surfer; how much sponsorship is required to get a surfer through the tour (over $90K minimum just for travel and expenses). Also, there’s an honesty to how the brothers are depicted here; they are presented not just as cool dudes on the beach but also as men who succumb to temptation, men whose competitiveness gets away from them from time to time and men who aren’t always prone to doing the right thing.

The abundance of talking heads may tire out some, but the irreverence helps combat that. I do like the attitude here; this is definitely something a little different. And I like different.

REASONS TO SEE: Not yo mama’s surfing doc. There’s a lot of straightforward honesty here.
REASONS TO AVOID: Loads of talking heads.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some mildly rude humor.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The Hobgoods are the only identical twins to date to both win pro surfing tour championships.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Vudu
CRITICAL MASS: As of 12/21/19: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet: Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Endless Summer
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
Spirits in the Forest