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the director -- named Jang Hyun-seong(13)

Time:2018-03-08 00:04Shoes websites Click:

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The Aggressives

In-line skaters of The Aggressives variety can read cities similarly to skateboarders. And this is what I was hoping for from Jeong Jae-eun's second feature. In her masterful debut, Take Care of My Cat, Jeong brought us into the lives of five girls as they crossed into womanhood while negotiating a space for themselves within the opportunities and constraints available to them as young, Korean women in their city of Inchon. Along the way, Jeong provided us with many other fascinating observations, particularly how these young woman utilized technology in their relationships. Since in-line skating is also a technology, I was expecting a similar narrative use of this mechanical technology as Jeong afforded the computerized technology of cell-phones. Sadly, what I found instead were moments of promise that were never fully mapped out, nor as expertly intersecting, as they were in her debut.

The Aggressives mainly follows the life of Chun Soyo (Cheon Jeong-myeong - R U Ready?), a "loner" who is alone in not thinking he's alone, and his new found friends, a group of in-line skaters. This crew includes a stock group of characters, the lothario, the comedian, etc., along with three other characters whose lives are a little more developed in the narrative. Gabba (Lee Cheon-hee - Ice Rain, A Good Lawyer's Wife) is the father figure of the crew and works at an in-line skating park. Mogi (Kim Kang-woo - Silmido, Springtime), which is Korean for "mosquito", is the rebel who just wants to skate for fun. For those who have seen Stacy Peralta's documentary about the second-wave of skateboarding, Dogtown and Z-Boys (2002), and the fiction feature that spawned from it, Lords of Dogtown (Catherine Hardwicke, 2005), Mogi would be comparable to the skateboarding legend Jay Adams. Mogi is held in similar high esteem concerning his skills, and similar low esteem when his I-don't-give-a-f*** attitude becomes intolerable. Soyo is positioned in between the father figure and the rebel during a scene where the two other characters have a fight. Soyo will mimic the style and attitude of each of these characters in front of a mirror in the next scene, underscoring the over-arching theme of the film: that we might fall a thousand times as we try to find the ways and means to our success. As there must be a love interest for whom these characters can also fall, (but, thankfully, this is not your typical portrayal of a teen movie love interest), we also have Han-joo (Jo Yi-jin). She aspires to direct an in-line skating video, so she follows these boys with camera in hands and skates on feet, just like Spike Jonze did before he got into John Malkovich's head.

Although aspects of this subculture are touched on, the artistry and the style (which are filmed very well), the skating for fun and identity, the battles with police and the public, etc., just as there are too many characters to juggle, there are too many themes that aren't molded into a coherent whole. Yes, one could argue that, since in-line skaters experience the city through bricolage, what Eithne Quinn explains in her book Nuthin' But a "G" Thing: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap as when ". . . individuals improvise responses to their environment, to what they have nearest at hand" (53), what seems incoherent is actually in sync with the subculture's aesthetics. But that, similar to what I wrote about the inferior film Looking for Bruce Lee (Kang Lone, 2002), would seem too much like rationalizing a greater significance out of this film than is justified. And although the sound design is exquisite when the skates meet the concrete, in stark contrast to Take Care of My Cat, the soundtrack is pretty lame compared to the former film's lush, perfectly syncopated, cell-phone-like melodies. In the end, like skaters to a city, I can take bits of enjoyment from pieces of this film, but Jeong doesn't seem to have taken care of this film as well as she did her debut. Still, she's entitled to hundreds more falls since she already found artistic success with her very first effort.      ()


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