MMoCA's Spotlight Cinema series kicks off with a film packed with the sort of kids other museums might chase off their front steps. Info
The autumnal chill mandates an abandonment of screenings on the roof, so the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art will fire up its indoor projection equipment to launch its annual Spotlight Cinema series with the vividly entertaining new film Skate Kitchen. The first fiction feature by director Crystal Moselle (who earned plaudits for the 2015 documentary The Wolfpack), Skate Kitchen has its origins in the observational approach Moselle has previously employed. Moselle was drawn to an an all-female crew of skateboarders she spied on the New York City subway. She pitched a filmmaking collaboration, leading to the 2016 short That One Day, which in turn begat a feature-length rendering of the girls’ lives. Skate Kitchen is the name the young grinders had already adopted for their group on social media, referencing the sexist dismissiveness of skatepark boys who suggested the young women should be baking brownies instead of landing ollies.
As a window to the realm of skaters on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the film mostly sticks with Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), skilled on her board, but not worldly wise due to her time growing up in more suburban environs with protective parents. The slender plot lines are the familiar fodder of countless teen films: familial squabbles and romantic toe-dipping that troubles the water of friendships. Happily, the bulk of the film simply settles in and lets the girls skate, bond, and engage in spirited conversations about growing up female in a messy society. The actors are largely amateurs drawn from the real crew, and they have a corresponding ease that gives Skate Kitchen the pavement smack of authenticity. Moselle’s camera is restless, but not showy, in perfect alignment with those it follows. —Daniel Seeger