A film about skateboarding which ... isn't really about skateboarding. Or rather skating is the experience that brings people together. The film is an exercise in therapy and catharsis which demonstrates yet again that enough drama for a Greek tragedy can be found in the everyday. A moving examination of lives that have been blighted by domestic violence told with both realism and hope.
There is no rule book for depicting the kind of events that Liu captures in his film - personally I wouldn't attempt an emotional coda about domestic violence by revealing footage that seems to have been shot years before events transpiring on screen. It evokes a mistrust, as does the sense of heaviness and melancholy burdened from first scenes. The right people bypass my stylistic oppositions, Keire and Nina esp.
2.5 The film looks to be objective - which isn't possible - and ends up succumbing to its subjective eye that is way too "close" to what's happening. I wouldn't call it an ethical issues as much as I would say its a failure of inexperience from a young man who still hasn't worked a lot out yet. Longer review below. https://letterboxd.com/mtume/film/minding-the-gap/
It sometimes feels derivative in its form (especially when it goes all 00s Sundance on you with the "engrossing" score engineered to make people cry) but its content is very fucking good. I don't know what director (also a subject) Liu was looking for when he began or when he finally decided he had a film to cut, but the journey they set out fror here is sad, confusing and extraordinary at the same time. Damn.
The year's most heartbreaking look at America's freedom to be free, starting with skater youth and ending with the cycles of poverty and unhappiness and the chance of breaking them. Uncomfortably personal, but empathetic rather than exploitative. A mess of lives, but a cinematic eye for distilling them into an intimate narrative. And if freedom is all its subjects have got, the camerawork captures it magnificently.
Well, that was the hardest I've cried in a cinema for a while. What begins as a portrait of a found family that use skateboarding as an escape from their trauma eventually becomes something deeper. An examination of legacies of familial abuse and the cost of burying traumatic pasts. When the emotional release comes, it's powerful and utterly devastating. As someone with similar traumas, this ruined me.
Whirling, rapturous cinematography is electrified by sharp editing, resulting in a raw look at youthful, thrashing manhood. Themes of masculinity are excavated from the interior with the filmmaker's long personal connection to his subjects allowing for truly unfiltered expression. The pathos mined from the trio of protagonists is highly effective plus bonus points for smartly including the young mother's perspective.
The huge problem w/ MINDING THE GAP is that the malevolent passive-aggressive personality of its young director becomes the de facto personality of the film itself, resulting in something that is objectively distasteful on a number of levels, but perhaps more tellingly is something I actively dislike more than I perhaps should. I dislike the movie the way I dislike certain ultimately well-meaning people.
Even as I found some of Liu's choices disappointing (prominently the blatant punctuation of points through billboards and radio reports), I was blown away by his ode to / critique of skateboarding as both an escape from broken homes and as a potential cause for avoiding responsibility and allowing generational trauma to be passed down. How he presents the passing of time is heartbreaking. The access is remarkable too
An intimate portrait of fatherhood, coming of age, and abuse in middle America. Bing's handling of skater culture and family life is a delicate and satisfying balancing act between the fallout of family abuse and trying to become a man. This tender portrait introduces us to three young men trying to transcend life's difficulties by flying over the pavement on skateboards.
A good and intimate portrait of young people trying to make it in or make it out of the Midwest. I would have liked to see more of the filmmaker's family or the filmmaker's perspective but that might not be realistic given how difficult both interviews seemed for everyone involved.