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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR STARS The Pappas brothers take the world of skateboarding head on.


Starring Tas Pappas, Ben Pappas

When a couple of westie kids from Melbourne arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1990's, professional skateboarding was turned upside down. So too were the lives of the Ben and Tuss Pappas, the bogan brothers whose meteoric rise to stardom would also be their undoing.

“There's three sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth.” Tas Pappas has such an acute sense of self-awareness that without his raw, clear voice, this unflinching documentary would another merit-and-misery account often seen on TV's Australian Story. His candid presence, startling energy and remarkable sense of humour turns the film on its provocative head. This aggressive, short-fused yet somehow endearing man holds the hand of all audience members for this story isn't so much about skating (although he does give it grist for the sporting luddites among us), All This Mayhem is about survival.

Using kilometres of video shot by fellow skaters from the time the Pappas brothers first stepped onto a park in Prahran through wild parties, their rise to become the darlings of ESPN and eventual fall from grace, director Eddie Martin has crafted a remarkable film: part time capsule, part reality TV. The video actuality is a gift. From their fiery beginnings through drug and alcohol addiction to the inevitable tragedy, there's not a moment of the Pappas story that Martin hasn't been able to show first hand. It's as thrilling and funny as it is disheartening and gut-wrenching.

All This Mayhem is about skateboarding, a sport some believe was wrestled from skaters and turned into a corporate money machine. It's about players who worked out how to work the new rules, and the unsuspecting ground out by the gear change. It's rock and roll. The burning realisation for Tas that despite international recognition, the lives he and Ben led were, in the end, no different than if they'd stayed in Melbourne's west is the most telling of all. Yet there's also hope that, in the end, no matter the battering he took, Tas Pappas did survive. Crisp, decisive, illuminating – this is essential viewing.



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