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Crystal Moselle’s intensely likable and sympathetic movie, with its seductively laid-back documentary realist style, is all about skateboarders in New York City. For me, it reclaims the skater genre from movies such as Larry Clark’s The Smell of Us and perhaps Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, which tended to fetishise skaters, pornifying their perceived alienation and affectlessness – and of course their maleness. This is about a women’s skater group calling themselves Skate Kitchen, whose stunts and general freewheeling and life-enjoying attitudes are publicised on Instagram.
Rachelle Vinberg plays 18-year-old Camille, whose overbearing mom very much disapproves of her skateboarding adventures after a gruesome accident necessitated a visit to the emergency room. But soon Camille is sneaking out of the house, hanging out with Skate Kitchen and smoking weed with them, triggering some hilarious stoner conversations on the subject of whether and why the little top-hatted guy on the Monopoly board no longer has a monocle.
We get a wonderful opening sequence when Skate Kitchen drift through the streets, raising mayhem, to Junior Senior’s Move Your Feet. But there is trouble when Camille is unsure how to negotiate the obvious sexual element of the group dynamic in Skate Kitchen and she falls out with fellow skater Janay (Ardelia Lovelace) after forming a friendship with Janay’s ex-boyfriend and skater Devon, played by Jaden Smith – who offers a more digestible performance than in his other films.
Just as in Stacy Peralta’s classic 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, this gives its audience a sense of the almost pastoral innocence of skateboarding, its devotion to nothing more or less than having fun: a subversive urban vocation that is dedicated to the art of pleasure.
Source: The Guardian
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