' ' Cinema Romantico: CIFF Review: Gimme the Loot

Monday, October 22, 2012

CIFF Review: Gimme the Loot

Footage of a painfully 80’s cable access show advises the holy hope of all New York City graffiti artists is to “bomb the apple” – this being the apple that rises in the outfield of Shea Stadium (since re-built and re-christened as, ugh, Citifield) after a homerun. Nobody has actually managed this feat. In present day NYC, however, two teens, Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sofie (Tashiana Washington), wake one morning to find their loving piece of graffiti ruined by a few rivals who have sprayed over it an image of the Shea Apple. Thus, Malcolm and Sofie determine to gain revenge by tagging the Shea Apple itself.

Malcolm knows a guy who can get them to the Apple in the dead of the night……for $500. They don’t have $500. So writer/director Adam Leon’s film follows them from street level through the course of 48 hours, neighborhood to neighborhood, as Malcolm and Sofie scheme and hustle, talking trash and dreaming big, encountering disparate characters that range from an overly-tattooed thief, Champion (Meeko), who robs retirement homes to feed his family to an over-privileged layabout stoner, Ginnie (Zoe Lescaze).

Swiftly paced and packed with scenes that outwardly seem like simple vignettes only to quietly hang together, “Gimme the Loot” is foul-mouthed and – in that spirit – funny as fuck but also sweet and, believe it or not, old-fashioned. Leon chooses to fill the soundtrack with bygone jazz and soul numbers, delightfully evoking a setting that in spite of its smartphones and other modern trappings feels timeless. It possesses rapid-fire omnipresent dialogue, true, except the film is so carefully observed and subtly visual – and not overbearing with its hand-held images which are more of necessity, I suspect, than auteur-ism – that it could have been done as a silent film and still convinced. One of the better single sequences in any movie this year involves a two-on-one faceoff on a rooftop where nary a word is spoken.

The acting of the two leads gets by mostly on attitude and it is only in a few of the more restrained moments which truly requires them to hit specific lines that their presumable lack of experience shows, but this is just fine, a non-fatal issue. And as the hours pass and their failures, comedically, pile up, leaving her without her bike and him without his shoes amongst other inepitudes, the more we recognize the less the film is about “bombing the apple” than Malcolm and Sofie recognizing just why they are so willing to go to such crazy lengths for one another.

Did “Gimme the Loot” remind this unabashed romantic of another movie featuring a guy and girl rushing about scenic New York? Of course, it did. What was it John Cusack said to Jeremy Piven in “Serendipity”? Ah yes. “Maybe all this is just a maze designed to lead me directly back to where I started.”

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