Gimme the Loot
A naturalistic, sun-kissed indie film about two New York graffiti artists
In a documentary clip at the beginning of fiction feature Gimme the Loot, a trio of New York graffiti artists discuss the art form’s holy grail: tagging the Mets' Apple (a gimmicky trophy that appears whenever the baseball team hit a home run). Sofia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson) are two Bronx teenagers who aim to take on the challenge, but who face numerous challenges in their way: rival crews, angry drug dealers, thieving kids, overbearing mothers and uptown snobbery, to name but a few.
Of the two leads, Washington is the strongest: her Sofia has been hardened by life experiences but is still capable of vulnerabilty when pushed out of her comfort zone. Hickson is slightly less convincing, stumbling over the odd line and generally appearing ill at ease in front of the camera for the first half of the movie, but warming up as time goes on (and coming into his own when indulging in unscripted banter with Washington). The third character of note is New York itself, gorgeously shot through cinematographer Jonathan Miller’s sun-kissed lens and brought to life with all the sounds of the city, from soul and disco through to classic 90s hip hop.
There’s not a lot of drive to the plot – the challenges Sofia and Malcolm face occur at random, and often end in an anti-climactic act of non-confrontation – but this is not necessarily a bad thing, lending the film a more meandering, Duplass Brothers sort of vibe than the gritty urban setting might initially suggest. There’s a certain last-act development that feels a bit forced considering this otherwise relaxed tone, but it’s hard to bear a grudge when the rest of the film is pulled off with such naturalistic grace.
Gimme the Loot is showing at the GFT, Glasgow, Mon 11 Feb, as part of the Glasgow Youth Film Festival.