American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Somebody's gonna bomb that Apple." The Apple in question is the Mets' Citi Field's Home Run Apple, which has never been "bombed" by graffiti in its entire history and therefore represents the Holy Grail to New York graffiti artists. If you could somehow get access to that Home Run Apple, and "bomb" it, your work would be broadcast to the masses and you'd be a legend!
"Bombing the Apple" is the lofty goal of Sofia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson), the two young Bronx graffiti artists in "Gimme the Loot," writer/director Adam Leon's first feature. And what a confident and entertaining first feature it is. Filmed all over the city, it shows a New York that has been missing from American cinema for quite some time. It is an anti-glamorous New York that still exists: grimy delis with cashiers hidden behind plate-glass, black-top parks with ferocious basketball games in progress, the languid crowded torpor of Union Square on a hot summer night. The locations are used offhandedly, although there are a couple of scenes that reach a kind of poetry (one involving a water tower). The characters, sometimes in long-shot, stroll through a cityscape that throbs with a palpable pulse of overpopulation and noise.
We don't know much about the home lives of Sofia and Malcolm, although we can assume that things are pretty rough. Roughness, however, does not define them. They spend their time tagging walls and roofs in their neighborhood, coming up with designs, and plotting to raise the $500 that will give them off-hours access to the Home Run Apple at Citi Field. They are engaged in a mild turf war with other graffiti artists, who spray over their designs. They make a great team.
Director Leon said he was inspired by comedies like "Uptown Saturday Night," as well as the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby road movies. Watching Malcolm and Sofia roam around the city, arguing, plotting, harassing each other, but with a clear undercurrent of fondness coursing beneath, is the main delight of the film. The two are accustomed to having to act tough, but there are a couple of electrically tender moments where you get the sense that, really, they should just get it over with and start kissing immediately.