Sophia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson) in Gimme the Loot.
By Don Simpson
Sofia (Tashiana R. Washington) and Malcolm (Tysheeb Hickson) are teenage graffiti artists struggling for respect in New York City. So they come up with a scheme to “bomb” (tag) the home run apple at CitiField (formerly Shea Stadium), but first they need to find $500 to pay off a security guard to let them inside the stadium during off-hours.
Sure, Sofia and Malcolm have stolen spray paint and jumped over subway turnstiles before, but $500 is a mighty big score for them. Sofia swipes some high-price sneakers and a cell phone whiile Malcolm decides to steal some weed from his occasional employer, which fatefully delivers him to the home of an über-rich, white chick named Ginnie (Zoë Lescaze). No matter how much they steal, Sofia and Malcolm keep finding themselves returning to square one. As a result, they finally decide to enlist the assistance of Champion (Meeko Gattuso) to help them burgle Ginnie’s home.
Gimme the Loot‘s naturalistic, guerrilla-style cinematography (Jonathan Miller) is offset by overly-manicured dialogue that would have benefited from organic, free-flowing, improvisational delivery. Writer-director Adam Leon’s micro-budget indie has a poetic rhythm to its “day in the life” structure as it attempts to navigate the economic and social disparities between Manhattan and the outlying boroughs. Gimme the Loot removes parental guidance from the equation, turning New York City into a lawless playground for teenagers. Despite their reliance upon thievery to survive, it is difficult not to root for the film’s anti-heroes, Sofia and Malcolm. One might say that Gimme the Loot glorifies Sofia and Malcolm’s life of crime and simultaneously softens Leon’s critique of the economic quagmire in which they are immersed.
Gimme the Loot screens at the Los Angeles Film Festival: June 15, 9:30 p.m., Virgin America Theatre; June 18, 5 p.m., Regal Cinemas.