Skateboarder angst

  • by David Lamble
  • Wednesday August 15, 2018
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The Sundance Award-winning doc "Minding the Gap" arrives Friday at the Roxie Theater. Three young men open their hearts and reveal heart-breaking glimpses of their lives in a film that uses a passion for skateboarding to expose the connections between poverty, race, sex and class in Trump's America. At one point, the film's young director Bing Liu asks an African American teen about the nature of his bond with his now-dead dad. "Well," he begins, "they used to call it child abuse."

The star of the film is a shaggy-haired charmer named Zack. In a series of clips that feel like time-lapse photography, we witness Zack's broken relationship and how it drove him to drink. We also hear his ex-girlfriend (and mother of his infant son) describe how Zack attacked her when drunk, pointing to a large scar along her right eyebrow.

At another point we watch one of the film's subjects blow off steam by subjecting his skateboard to the kind of abuse some rock stars reserve for their guitars at climactic moments in a concert.

"Minding the Gap," which will also stream on the Hulu website, provides insight at how young men from dysfunctional families try to alter their fates - in Zach's case, by leaving town and moving to Denver. But whether they stay or go, the internal weather inspired by an abusive parent often lingers in the new setting.

There are tears shed as the director confronts his mom about the abuse he received from her second husband. There are graveside scenes where a young man cleans the tombstone of a deceased violent dad whose early death he'd once prayed for. Far from the exuberance expressed in surf-and-skateboard rock songs on the radio like "Surf City, here we come," "Minding the Gap" shows the scars on young men who may never totally free themselves from bad memories they associate with what should have been their lives' most carefree chapters.