« March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Reviews: '12 O'Clock Boys'

One boy's coming-of-age tale is equal parts hilarious and gut-wrenching
Review by Patrick Courtney

12 O'Clock Boys

Documentary Feature Competition, World Premiere
D: Lotfy Nathan

Despite a few rough patches, Lotfy Nathan's debut is robust and avoids the incautious condescension of most "shine light on dark places" documentaries. Shot over the course of three years in Baltimore, the heavily stylized film follows the impossible-not-to-like Pug and his fanatical quest to join the city's infamous 12 O'Clock Boys, a dirt-bike crew whose brazen displays on Baltimore's streets include popping high-speed wheelies and goading police officers (who are prohibited by law from chasing them despite the illegality of their activities). Pug's progression from ages 10 to 13 throughout the film is equal parts hilarious and gut-wrenching to watch, and the intimate moments with his struggling family are the film's finest. The staggering super-high-speed footage of the gang's antics alone is worth the price of admission, but the film's sophisticated, ambiguous ending proves that Nathan has a bright future as a documentarian.

Friday, March 15, 11:15am, Stateside