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.
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.
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.
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.
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.