F.I.L.M. of the Week (July 11, 2014)

11 07 2014

Gimme the Loot

I saw plenty of crap on the Croisette back in 2012, mainly because I was so obsessed with seeing hyped Cannes official competition titles like “On the Road” and “Cosmopolis.”  Not only did those turn out to be duds, but the time I spent trying to see them precluded me from finding smaller gems at the festival.  Had I been smart, I would have sought out a film like “Gimme the Loot,” Adam Leon’s feature debut that percolates with an exciting energy.

This pick for “F.I.L.M. of the Week” (for those who might have forgotten, that’s First-Class, Independent Little-Known Movie) announces the arrival of a fresh new voice in cinema.  Leon, in just 75 minutes, crafts an engaging film that tells a more complete narrative than some films twice its length.  (Cough, “Django Unchained.”)

Leon also looks at New York, quickly becoming the hipster capital of indie cinema, from an invigoratingly different perspective – that of two teenaged graffiti artists.  “Exit Through the Gift Shop” this is not, though.  Out to prove they can accomplish the mythical feat of “bombing,” or tagging with graffiti, the big apple at Shea Stadium, Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sophia (Tashiana Washington) scour across the city to procure the necessary funds to gain the access they need.

Their quest takes them head to head with rivals, awkwardly phoning in old debts, and trying to swindle clueless upper-class whites.  Malcolm and Sophia split up for a good chunk of the film, but the joys of “Gimme the Loot” come from watching their interactions.  Hickson and Washington set up such a fun, interesting dynamic between their characters that feels nothing less than authentic.  The friendship is so believable that they might as well be siblings, bluntly bickering from a place of deep love.

Leon allows the film to play to the strength of his performers, yet it still reflects his prowess as a filmmaker.  It highlights a class and race divide in New York City without ever being preachy … or without really even calling attention to itself.  When it comes to cinematic treats, this is one sweet loot.

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