Friendship, belonging, status, street cred and the harsh reality of the wrong side of Bay are key elements in Justin Tipping's Kicks. Our protagonist Brandon (Jahking Guillory) is 15 shorter that his friends and classmates spending his days paling around with fit and confident Rico (Christopher Meyer) and braggart husky rapper Albert (Christopher Jordan Wallace) The troika usually go to the convince store where innocent looking Brandon steals alcohol, ride their bikes around and hang out at the basketball courts looking for girls. One topic of extreme knowledge is the vintages of Air Jordan basketball shoes. There are the three's, the fives and the Holy Grail the black and red original Air Jordan one's vintage 1986.
One day while walking home Brandon comes across local hustler Daryl selling Nike's out of the back of a van including a pair of red and black Jordan1's. Brandon makes the purchase, throws his workout all white Nike's over a power line and heads to the basketball court feeling a foot taller to impress. Later, on the way home he's intercepted by neighbourhood thief (Flaco) and his crew. They roll him for his belongings and his shoes kicking off a series of events in the pursuit to recover the stolen shoes.
Writer -Directory Justin Tipping's strong sharp dialogue dominates the narrative. Tipping displays a deft touch with the turn of phrase in his writing. The story is hard on serious ribbing between the friends then doubles down on their bond when the intensity increases during the confrontation with Flaco and his followers. Cinematographer Michael Ragen excels especially during the sequences where Brandon looks to his spaceman protector for guidance. His lens captures the gritty dark and treacherous streets of the East Bay exposing all of its grit and prickles.
The ensemble cast perform their roles well. Jahking Gilroy has the most to due with the main role but he is complemented well by the two Christopher's portraying his best friends. Look for Dante and Donton Clark as Brandon's cousins from Flaco's neighbourhood. Mahershali Ali only has a couple of scenes but provides major impact as Brandon's Uncle fresh off an extended stint in jail.
Kicks is a film set over two days that's onscreen presence exceeds its small budget status. The story brings the viewers into a world where your possessions and confrontations that often lead to violence are the measure of where you stand in society. Beautifully shot crisply written and even pacing making it a film worth a look.
*** Out of 4.
Kicks | Justin Tipping | U.S.A. | 2016 | 80 Minutes.
Tags : Oakland, East Bay, BART, Nike, Air Jordan's, Robbery, Drifting, Basketball, BMX Bike