Siestas & Olas” has no pretensions of breaking with the time-honored surfing-docu formula established 31 years ago in “The Endless Summer.” Duly following another two surfers on a “perfect wave” quest, neophyte helmer Dan Wozniak’s pic features the same laid-back humor, surfer slang and hypnotic boarding footage. It worked then, it works now. Pleasant effort is currently playing short four-wall gigs around the country.
Where Bruce Brown’s ’66 “Summer” roamed several continents, “Siestas” confines its travel to the Mexican coast. Over three months’ vacation, world-class U.S. surfers Tom Wegener and Josh Farberow — joined eventually by Joel Tudor and Aussie Marc Kavanagh — drive their customized Chevy Suburban from the Baja peninsula down to the tropical mainland’s Puerto Escondido, always in search of the least-frequentedand most “bitchin’ ” surf site.
Pic is virtually without live sound; this of course hampers even the slightest insight into central figures’ personalities, which doesn’t seem to be a goal here anyway. (Their disparate surfing styles, on the other hand, come across quite distinctly.) Wozniak reads (a bit blandly) the tongue-in-cheek narration himself, while a selection of often very good traditional-Mexican, surf-instrumental and Deadhead-style rock tracks provide additional soundtrack fodder. True to the genre, occasional on-shore gags are staged with amiable obviousness. Local-color detours to a rodeo and elsewhere are likewise routine but affable.
Though photography here is unremarkable, there’s probably no sport more inherently hypnotic to watch — so while camera never gets in daringly close (and some shots are marred by lens reflections), reel after reel holds attention as sheer eye candy. Given film’s limited interest in and relevance to matters of structure or pacing, 60 minutes would have done as well as 90. Still, surfing buffs will be thrilled, and others will enjoy even pic’s repetitions as a sort of vicarious, brainwave-slowing tropical vacation.