Riders on the Storm - Of Men and Mavericks
It is an almost inviolable rule that Hollywood attempts at surf movies are not received well by surfers. Part of it has to do with a studio tendency toward surf tropes and clichés (“Cowabunga!” “Hang Ten!”). More of it has to do with the nature of the sport itself: it breeds localism. Not just the xenophobic, occasionally violent expressions of localism that enforce the pecking order, but, more prevalent, a fierce love of place. To learn the personality of a particular wave is to become intimate with the contours of a landscape, to map that landscape and make it yours. Surfers will say that the character of a break influences the local culture. In other words, a filmmaker who wishes to get a surf spot right by its locals has his work cut out for him.
It was with this in mind that the team behind “Of Men and Mavericks,” due out this fall, went to rather prodigious lengths to make their film anthropologically correct. Directed by Curtis Hanson (“8 Mile,” “L.A. Confidential”), the biopic tells the story of Jay Moriarty, a surfer who helped put Maverick’s — an enormous break a half-mile offshore near Santa Cruz, Calif. — on the map when, in 1995, a photograph of him wiping out in a 30-foot swell made the cover of Surfer magazine. He was 16. Though he died young, in 2001, Moriarty remains the spot’s most celebrated stylist, the standard by which all performances at Maverick’s are judged.