Thursday, December 27, 2018

Movie with Abe: Minding the Gap

Minding the Gap
Directed by Bing Liu
Released August 17, 2018

Activities that for most are hobbies or ways to blow off steam may for others be a necessary escape from the harsh realities of their everyday lives. What it means for someone to be able to be free and away from stresses and miseries will be completely different than the same activity for someone who enjoys luxuries and privilege. Sports are one such outlet, with skateboarding representing a particular area that may seem like a throwaway appeal for those with little experience or interest in it, while others take considerably more meaning from indulgence in it.

In Rockford, Illinois, three young men with different identities share their stories. None of them have much in the way of money or possessions, and they rely on their social experiences to help them get by, connecting over a shared love for skateboarding. Zack is forced to grow up and accept the reality of his situation when his girlfriend Nina becomes pregnant. Kiere is the only African-American of the group, who doesn’t always feel comfortable as the representative of a minority, while Bing, who is Chinese-American, expresses himself through filmmaking, capturing this story and editing it together to represent the experiences of his friends that he rightly feels aren’t commonly showcased.

There is a great deal of self-reflection that happens in front of the camera, with each of the characters contemplating their pasts and what lies ahead for them in the future. Kiere explains how he didn’t realize that the fact that his family was black was important, while Zack tackles his newfound fatherhood as an extremely complex state. Conversations with their mothers to dissect the abuse they endured as children are extraordinarily eye-opening, especially as it helps them to realize what kind of adults and parents they want to be, deciding what should be justified and what represents crossing the line.

This is an extremely intimate film, one that truly allows its subjects to be themselves. No moments or scenes feel staged, and the three friends are eager to share their thoughts. For them, talking casually about their innermost feelings seems to feel just as natural as getting on a skateboard. After getting to know its characters in a real and honest fashion, Bing weaves together an endearing montage that demonstrates how it has managed to capture and translate the humanity of these people, assuring that even those who might not have connected throughout are hopeless to leave without feeling something.


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