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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Skate Kitchen, or: Ollie-oop

I’m not sure too many people are feeling optimistic about 2022–and it’s only day 2. After a wild couple of years, the next one is still looking somewhat unpredictable. Rest assured, the Blog Collab is ticking along like clockwork in our volatile world, and we’ll even go so far as to celebrate the seasonally appropriate theme of new beginnings & adventures in January. Largely for other people.

The Film:

Skate Kitchen

Director:

Crystal Moselle

The Premise:

Recovering from an injury, young skateboarder Camille finds kindred spirits in an all-female skateboarding collective in NYC.

The Ramble:

Teenage Camille is a skateboarder who experiences a major setback when she is badly injured while boarding. All of Camille’s fears about never being able to skateboard again are realized when her mother insists that she never pick up a board again. Which Camille obeys for approximately the amount of time it takes for her stitches to heal.

Camille, a young woman with long dark hair holding a skateboard, walks by a group of boys sitting on the side of a skate park with their own boards. They are watching the skateboarders currently in the park skating & performing tricks.

Following a group of girls known as Skate Kitchen on Instagram, Camille decides to sneak away to meet them at a skate park in the City from her home in Long Island. Getting back on the board after her injury suddenly feels less scary with a team of girls cheering her on amid all of the testosterone of the skateboarder bro crowd. Bonding with kindred spirit Janay and gaining the approval of brash leader Kurt, it’s not long before Camille becomes part of the group.

As Camille learns new skateboarding tricks and techniques, she also learns some things about growing up from her new girl gang. Because of her joint-smoking, makeup-wearing, sexually adventurous group of friends, Camille realizes how useful (and non-deadly) tampons can be, and to beware of the douchebags of the skate park, like Janay’s rather cute ex, Devon.

The members of Skate Kitchen, a group of young women in their teens, walk together down the street, holding skateboards and with arms around each other.

Spending more and more time at the library, as Camille tells her concerned mother, it’s not too surprising when her cover is blown. Having a huge falling out at home, Camille moves in with Janay temporarily…and then not-so-temporarily. Getting a job as a cashier in the same store where Devon works, Camille is soon hanging out with him and his skateboarding crew, crushing quite a bit. Since the girls despise Devon for breaking Janay’s heart, Camille wisely tells no one. But what will happen when these worlds collide and Camille’s secret is revealed?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Because the majority of the cast is made up of real-life skateboarders (many of whom are part of the real Skate Kitchen), our film feels authentic in its documentary-style approach. The skate tricks are real, the attitudes and passion come across onscreen, and the cool camera shots go on for days. Apparently the original cut was 5 hours long, which I can understand as appreciating the art of skateboarding rarely gets old.

What’s a bit frustrating is that director Crystal Moselle’s actual documentary The Wolfpack was so much more effective, and I can’t help thinking that approach here may have made for a better film. The structure is loose enough and the characters seemingly close enough to the actors’ backgrounds that a genuine documentary wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch. A lot of the semblance of plot is where the film is weakest, honestly, like the really unconvincing Camille/Devon romance.

However, the members of Skate Kitchen are cool enough that it’s fun just to hang out with them for an afternoon & entertain the possibility that I could stay upright on a board for more than 3 seconds (I totally couldn’t).

Would my blog wife allow this one into the skate gang or let it wipe out all alone on a concrete sidewalk? Find out in her review!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Sisterhood of Night, or: Twitches

We do what we want in this Blog Collab…and what we want is to avoid over-thinking our theme-related decisions.  Welcome to yet another Blog Free or Die Hard Month—this time with witchcraft!

The Film:

Sisterhood of Night

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Secret rituals!  Vows of silence!  Tattoos!  There’s only one explanation for this kind of behavior in teens:  witchcraft.

The Uncondensed Version:

Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe and Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom are all grown-up and embracing their inner mean girl.

Mary is something of a slacker in school, yet seems destined for fame with her serious charisma and IDGAF attitude, universally admired by teens everywhere.  Emily, on the other hand, is a bit of a goody two-shoes, who tries (and fails) so hard to be interesting and well-liked in worlds both real and virtual.  After Mary takes things too far by ruining Emily’s audition, Emily steals Mary’s phone and posts all of her texts online.  The feud between these two is just getting started when Mary decides to be done with the net forever, taking a modern vow of silence from social media.

a teenage girl looks around in front of graffiti that reads "Emily Parris is a blog whore"
Harsh…I think…?

Thus the Sisterhood of Night is born.  Mary begins the secret society with her closest friends and rumors swirl.  Though the girls involved with the Sisterhood meet up only to unburden themselves of secrets, outsiders imagine they are basically a coven of lesbians.  Oh, the horror.

two girls press their foreheads together in front of a suburban house
Telepathic lesbians:  a parent’s worst nightmare (apparently)…

Based on a series of mysterious clues, Mary reveals the time and location of Sisterhood meetings to members only.  Desperate to be part of the cool kids club, Emily figures out where the next meeting will be in hopes of joining or, if all else fails, writing a really juicy post for her blog.

Rejected once again, Emily uses the opportunity to accuse the Sisterhood of physical and sexual assault, collapsing in church and revealing a scar on her hand inflicted by Mary.  Emily isn’t winning any friends in her high school, but she is becoming somewhat internet famous, with thousands of blog followers.

two teenage girls stare intensely at each other
Our chief weapons are fear, surprise, and staring contests.

With mysterious tattoos, odd meeting hours, and secrets piling up, the community demands to know what the Sisterhood is and what the girls do.  They refuse to reveal the truth since, you know, it’s a secret society and all.  The town sets a curfew for everyone under the age of 18, which Mary obviously ignores.  Frightened one evening, she asks her guidance counselor (Kal Penn??!?!?) for help at his apartment.  This of course gets horribly misconstrued and ends badly for Kal, the sole voice of reason in the entire scenario.  After Kal’s departure, a media circus latches onto the story, sensationalizing the story to depict sex, witchcraft, and occult rituals.

a man sits in front of a shelf of books with a sticky note stuck to his forehead that reads "Srsly?!"
I can’t disagree.

As the Sisterhood grows, so too does Emily’s following as her reputation for being a survivor of abuse grows.  She comes up with a rather nasty plan to force a confession of witchcraft from one of the Sisterhood, luring her out using her crush.  Emily immediately feels remorse and tries to stop the plan, but it’s already been set into motion.  Someone isn’t getting out of this alive—who will it be???

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

The ending is actually pretty moving and surprisingly feminist, but it takes a long time to get there.  Everyone is so needlessly bitchy for such a long time, and someone has to fucking die for it to stop.  The end calls the persecution of witches to our attention, and the supposed threat of feminine power and sisterhood inherent in these kinds of witch hunts.  The girls do lift each other up at the end, which is empowering, but I was still hoping for at least a little bit of actual witchcraft.

The tone is odd as well, as sometimes it feels like a satire or dark comedy, and other times like a serious drama.  It gets to have a bit too much of an after-school special vibe after a while.  Kal Penn as the guidance counselor works but is also confusing, as I was expecting him to bring comedy to this film.

In spite of myself, I saw high school + witches and immediately expected The Craft.  This isn’t as much fun to watch as The Craft, but it does have an interesting perspective and a message worth considering.

Would Christa get matching tattoos with this one or shun it entirely?  Find out by reading her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Wetlands, or: Yes, That’s a Euphemism

So happy to be back to Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2015 after a short break!

This week’s film is Christa’s pick, Wetlands. Click here for her post. Or don’t. I don’t really have the authority to tell you how to live.

I’m shaking up the format a teensy bit and just letting my thoughts flow because that’s what I’ve been doing anyway, right? At times way more freely than you ever wanted them to.

The Film:

Wetlands

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

I really love the Netflix summary for this one. “She’s lewd, and her hygiene habits are…unconventional. Shaving a personal area becomes a blessing in disguise.”

The Uncondensed Version:

Our film follows Helen, German teen with hemorrhoids, a fairly dysfunctional relationship with her parents, and a very sexually curious mind. She also rocks the tomboy/pseudo-grunge look, successfully achieving the much desired appearance of giving zero fucks without looking homeless unlike uh…this blogger.

a teenage girl wearing a baggy sweater and messy hairstyle stands outside
Not fair.

I’m going to stop right here and warn you that Helen is a fantastic character and it’s really fun to see her grow…but this movie is gross. It’s really, really gross. Like one of her acts of rebellion against her mother’s obsession with personal hygiene is to rub herself on absolutely filthy public toilet seats. I mean, public restrooms don’t really bother me, but there are multiple times that one scene from Trainspotting seems tame.

So anyway…when our film opens, Helen’s main interest (besides sex) is getting her divorced parents back together. She quickly makes friends with her new neighbor, Corinna, even though she’ s convinced her mom will decide to move the family soon.

Helen gets an unexpected opportunity to get her parents together when she has a shaving accident that really hurts to think about. I can’t, you guys. It happens when she gives her ass a shave. I need to move on from this topic.

As a result of her injury, Helen needs surgery and an extended hospital stay. It’s not all bad as she has a sexy nurse taking care of her. Seriously, he looks like a fucking Backstreet Boy.

close up of a man with blonde hair wearing white scrubs
Backstreet’s back, alright?

The point here is that Helen tries repeatedly to get her parents to the hospital at the same time, but they refuse to cooperate. She hangs out with the nurse a lot and tries to shock him with the story of this time she went to a brothel and had sex with a prostitute.

To be honest, the plot kind of fell apart at this point with a lot of flashforward/flashback, a pretty insane drug trip, and scenes that attempted to out-gross each other.

If you decide to watch this film, I think you will be watching at least partially for the shock value, so I will say no more. Suffice it to say there’s a reason Helen acts the way she does.

close up of a middle-aged woman speaking to her daughter, telling her "Don't trust anybody. Not even your parents."
REALLY, THOUGH.

And you should do yourself a favor and not eat pizza while you watch this movie.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Mostly because I wish I had been half as cool as Helen as a teen. The plot structure is…loose, and many scenes are not for the faint hearted. Sperm pizza, you guys. Sorry, I did spoil it. I CAN’T CARRY THE WEIGHT OF THAT SCENE BY MYSELF.

See if Christa handled it better by reading her post here!