|Gleaming the Cube (1989)|
|Starring:||Christian Slater, Steven Bauer and Min Luong|
|The Plot: Bryan Kelly (Christian Slater) is a young teen who cares for very little in the world outside of his daily doses of skateboarding, punk rock music and rebellion from all of society. His adopted Vietnamese brother Vinh Kelly (Art Chudabala) is the flip side to that coin, as he is everything that a parent could dream to have. He does well in school, he behaves, shows respect and doesn’t try to rebel against everything his parents stand for. When Vinh discovers some odd numbers shifting around on the books at the local shop he works for, he begins to investigate. His boss, Colonel Trac (Le Tuan) apparently has something else going on behind closed doors, and when Vinh gets close to the truth he is abducted and tortured by Trac’s business associates. When the torture goes a bit too far, young Vinh is left dead by strangulation. Trac and his men make the death look like a suicide, but his brother Bryan isn’t so sure. Distraught over the death of Vinh, he begins to question his own senseless rebellion and begins to investigate what exactly happened to his brother.|
The true joy and fun of the project ultimately comes through in the utter adoration that is shown to skateboarding itself. While I have never been a skater (I have the balance of a one-eared cat with no whiskers), I have always been interested in the culture as an interesting American phenomenon. The “X-Games”, an annual event showcasing the best in action sports (skateboarding, BMX riding, etc.) really brought skateboarding to its peak in popularity during the 90’s. However, skateboarding also came into popularity during the eighties despite the fact that in mainstream culture it was generally viewed as a interesting sideshow distraction rather than a legitimate sporting event. Gleaming the Cube captures the cultural sideshow presentation of the sport in full swing. In that regard, as previously mentioned, the film really works as a cinematic time capsule. Demonstrating the very worst fashion of the eighties, along with some very exaggerated interpretations of that Californian “skate kid” identity. The film could very well irk the nerves of some modern viewers not quite prepared for the over indulgence of style headed their way, but when watching as a cultural pathologist of sorts it is interesting to see where the sport started and how far it has come. It would nearly take another decade for the X-Games to bring skateboarding out of a deep depression that saw it decline heavily in popularity, but here in 1989 we can see how rooted the sport was within the punk-rock and DIY aesthetic of the time.