EIFF 2012: Leave It On The Track and Young Dudes

After the rather intense subject matter of THE IMPOSTER and KILLER JOE, the World Premiere of Benjamin Pascoe’s roller derby documentary LEAVE IT ON THE TRACK was a welcome change of mood.

With enough shots of backsides to challenge MAGIC MIKE, the film focuses on the love-hate bond between the women on and off the track while constantly reminding us that this sport is sisterhood epitomised.

There are a lot of laughs to be had in the lead-up to the championship bout between the undefeated Cherry Bombs and their competitors, The Hellcats, but you never truly appreciate or experience it the way the fans do, leaving it a little lacklustre. But this doesn’t stop it from being incredibly real, with the amount of broken bones and tears disturbingly tangible at times.

As we are introduced to different members of the League, we are gently and concisely taught the rules of roller derby without ever getting confused and discovering the backgrounds and talents of these headstrong girls. Though it is unfair to compare this documentary to Drew Barrymore’s WHIP IT (which is made reference to – keep your eyes peeled for Andrew Wilson’s wonderful little cameo), the girls here are every bit as iconic and fearless, from Cherry Chainsaw, Dirty Blonde to Curly Suicide, some of whom were in the 2009 film.

Although not particularly long at eighty minutes, LEAVE IT ON THE TRACK often feels like it is desperately trying to fill the time by using more archive or bout footage than is possibly needed, resulting in a lot of tedious repetition. But it is ultimately infectious fun centred around an extended roller derby family who you can’t help but really care about.

 

With its blend of social and political commentary set alongside an impending apocalypse, YOUNG DUDES confuses far more than it pleases.

Appearing to start off as an exciting and comic tale of two friends, Wang Bo-Chieh and Abe Tsuyoshi are an interesting pair whose relationship is never quite determined, but who fit together effortlessly and are clearly very talented. However, the bizarre story they are a part of fails to keep you entertained or interested in something that should be truly fascinating.

DJ Chen’s film gradually leaves you further and further behind, especially when a young Russian woman joins their quest to build an online version of Noah’s Ark (‘Klaatu’), which is never fully explained and ends up becoming a little uncomfortable and ridiculous on more than one occasion. No more than a pretty, quirky face, her constant presence becomes an irritation that detracts from the fun to be had with Bo-Chieh and Tsuyoshi.

Taking its inspiration from the title of the David Bowie song, the majority of YOUNG DUDES feels very Westernised, with a lot of baffling references to Michael Jackson amidst its copious use of indie rock. And, while it’s a great advert for Facebook, YOUNG DUDES unfortunately ends up feeling like a waste of two very good actors, with the big ideas the film has never really making you think as much as they should.

Pint-sized freelance film journalist. Editor of iamnotwaynegale.com, Reviews Editor at The Hollywood News and contributor to others. Awaiting a Hardy/Hiddleston/Cumberbatch/Fassbender/Gosling team-up.

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