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


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

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, or: I Can Take Your Eyes out of Your Skull

Foreign films, round two. This one is Christa’s pick.

I’m not even going to try to create any sort of suspense here; I loved this film (spoiler spoiler spoiler).

See what Christa thought here!

The Film:

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

I saw a review describing this as the first Iranian vampire western. I would also argue it is the first (only?) feminist vampire movie. With a cat.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

There’s a cat in this film, and it’s actually pretty important to the (admittedly not overly involved) plot. I was initially afraid this was going to get all Gummo, but don’t worry—nothing bad happens to the cat. (I guess that’s a spoiler, but whatever. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care what happens to the cat at the end, you deserve to have all film endings spoiled. Probably).

a man drives a vintage car with a
The cat seriously deserves an Oscar for the range of emotions on its face.

So our protagonist is Arash, a young man who works hard but keeps getting caught up in his father’s nonsense and the general shittiness of living in Bad City. His father is a junkie, gambler, and owes a lot of money to this super shady pimp/loan shark/not 100% sure what his job description is. Whatever he does for a living, he’s a total douche as exhibited by (a) threatening the fucking cat, (b) his “SEX” neck tattoo, and (c) taking Arash’s car as payment for his father’s debts.

It’s okay, readers. This tool doesn’t have long to live. He makes his last mistake by kicking a prostitute to the curb without payment for services rendered. Sketchy dudes of Bad City, beware: you never know who or what is watching you. Spoiler alert: vampire. Totally a vampire. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand she kills him.

Later, in what is possibly my favorite moment of the entire film, the vampire threatens to feed a little boy’s eyes to dogs, then steals his skateboard.

a woman wearing a hijab talks to a young boy, telling him "I can take your eyes out of your skull"
Have I ever told you you’re my heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeero?

It may not surprise you that Arash meets the vampire one night. He is leaving a costume party dressed as a vampire and has just taken E or something…I don’t know, guys. I have little to no street cred. Whatever he took, it makes one particular streetlamp absolutely fascinating to him, apparently. The vampire approaches him, and he then wraps her in his cape because she feels cold. Then she pushes him on the skateboard to her place. Honestly, this scene was about 10,000x more adorable than I can convey here. They also have basically the most tension-filled non-sex scene ever.

a man and woman stand close together in a room decorated with many posters
Oh my god, just make out already. Now. …Now. …NOW.

When they meet again later, Arash brings the vampire a hamburger; if that’s not love, I don’t know what is. He also gives her stolen earrings and pierces her ears with a safety pin…awwwwwwwww?

The Critique:

Okay, I think she’s the first feminist vampire, and this may be the first feminist vampire movie. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not an expert because I think vampires are just not scary at all and have to follow a lot of arbitrary rules. Plus lady vampires usually have to be “sexy” vampires, which is just so infuriating.

Straight talk: this is a majorly hipster-y movie; the vampire listens to music on a record player, has a disco ball in her room, and I think I spotted Michael Jackson on the wall. And sometimes this movie is really bizarre; there’s this scene of a woman dancing with a balloon to sort of operatic music. I’m still puzzling over that one.

However, this is a gorgeous film, part love story, part story of bringing justice to Bad City. So…Iranian vampire western. Accurate. (To be honest, I was thinking of Rango the whole time and expecting the little owl mariachi band to appear at any moment.) Much more of a creepy/suspenseful film than a gory horror.

The director’s next project is apparently “a post-apocalyptic cannibal love story set in a Texas wasteland” where a “muscled cannibal breaks the rule ‘don’t play with your food.” Ana Lily Amirpour, WHERE have you been all my life???

The Rating:

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

We’re doing it; we’re going with a perfect score. I don’t mean to say this is a perfect film that is completely free of WTF moments, but it was original, it was creepy, it was tense, and it had a cat. As close to perfection as possible.

Christa’s review is available here!