I really loved this little movie. There are long stretches of no dialogue, where you just follow the artist of the title as he skateboards through the city- stopping to tag and take pictures of his work. You really feel as if you are a voyeur following this kid around and that you are taking a look into his life. If you're expecting a loud, obnoxious movie full of street kids trash-talking then this IS NOT it. This is a quiet, thoughtful film that will hold your attention. I highly recommed this one.
The Graffiti Artist is Cinematic Art!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"James Bolton ('Eban and Charley') is emerging as a filmmaker of considerable note. As writer, producer and director of THE GRAFFITI ARTIST he is introducing a new realm of American verismo that is beautiful to watch, touching in content, and a creatively conceived film from beginning to end.
Portland, present time. Nick (a young Dutch actor Ruben Bansie-Snellman whose magnetism on the camera recalls the early James Dean) is a teenager who lives the solitary life, committed to his passion of tagging via graffiti art under the tag name 'Rupture'. He keeps journals of his drawings, photographs of his graffiti, and stays alive by shoplifting his tools of spray cans and his vegetarian diet foods. Always on the look out for police who arrest taggers, Nick is a man against the world. He is arrested for his art. Upon release Nick, by happenstance one day, meets a fellow tagger Jesse (Pepper Fajans) with whom he finally speaks (to this point there has been no dialogue from Nick) and follows around, sharing art and tagging. Jesse apparently has some money from his mother and is able to provide Nick with food and shelter. The two travel to Seattle to tag, create some truly beautiful grafitti art, and slowly bond to the point that Jesse invites Nick into his bed. What follows is one of the more sensuous yet understated same-sex scenes on film.
By morning Jesse already has conflicts with the evening's tryst: Nick appears serenely satisfied yet anxious about Jesse's response. They continue to tag, creating a new, partnered tag name 'Elusive'. Jesse eventually distances himself from the guarded Nick and leaves to return to Portland. Nick tries to maintain his lifestyle but is now living in the streets and tagging in dangerous places that result in run-ins with the law. But primarily because he misses Jesse, the only other person with whom he has bonded, Nick returns to Portland, leaving tag messages signed 'Rupture' wherever he sees Jesse's signature 'Flip'. At last Nick finds Jesse, and learns that Jesse doesn't want to have anything to do with him. Alone again, Nick's return to his solitary life and the way he deals with his dream is the may the story ends.
Though there is almost no dialogue in this film, Director Bolton capitalizes on the magnetism of his actors' body language and especially eye language and the result is simply stunning. Ruben Bansie-Snellman owns the screen and creates a character so heartrendingly simple in his complexity that he pulls us into his strange world of Nick every moment. The music score by Kid Loco and the cinematography by Sarah Levy enhance the dark mood of this piece. THE GRAFFITI ARTIST allows us to see this world as one cruel to those who don't 'fit' and makes a quiet, powerful statement about the lone individual in a landscape foreign in every way except in art. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, July 05"
Brilliant! american independent filmmaking at its finest!
dennis ropec | los angeles | 04/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i saw this film at the cinevegas film festival with dennis hopper and some people from sundance and i was blown away. there is much less dialogue than most american movies and the story is told, well...visually. this film respects its audience and does what few american movies can do...show something new. i recommended it highly as it gave me new insight into the graffiti subculture as well as the disaffected youth movement, punk and other subcultures and a great story of the friendship/relationship between two young boys."
Stephen A | Seattle, WA | 05/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I saw this film at the Seattle International Film Festival last year I was pleasantly suprised. The performance of the lead actor was perfect. The way that the the film began, with following "Nick" in his daily routine of tagging, along with the brilliant soundtrack by Kid Loco, made chills flow up my spine. I was happy that the film showed a real side to the world of graffiti, instead of a stylized, glorified interpretation. It was easily the one of the best films that I saw last year."
Elusive or Maybe Just Ephemeral
interested_observer | San Francisco, CA USA | 08/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Penniless teen Nick (played by Ruben Bansie-Snellman) is The Graffiti Artist. Alone at night he finds walls and spray-paints words (Rupture is a favorite.) and images on walls and similar spaces. There are occasional run-ins with the police, and he supports himself through shoplifting. He gets around on a skateboard. In daytime he takes pictures of his handiwork and pastes them into a scrapbook, helping him hone his craft.
Nick spots fellow-graffi-maker Jesse (played by Pepper Fajans) at work, at what seems to me a lower artistic level. The two do not meet up until later, when Nick spots Jesse from an overpass. For no particular reason, they join up and begin joint operations, making art and fleeing the police. Nick likes them using the word Elusive once Jesse defines it for him. Jesse has some money and a place to stay; so matters look up for Nick.
Undressing for bed, Nick has his eye on Jesse, but Jesse is the one who makes a move. Afterward, Jesse is the one who feels weirded out and grows distant. Jesse, concerned about going too far with both the police and the sex, moves on and away. Nick follows, is rebuffed, and shows his personal growth by now spray-painting Free Art around his graffitied image of spray-paint can.
The film is useful in showing a slightly romanticized view of graffiti-making by a suffering artist. Nick does show above-average talent. The film uses age-appropriate actors, but spares the audience the related dialog. The film relies on body language to tell the story of why they like each other, what the sex meant, and what the long-term impact is likely to be. Although the physical acting is good, the audience still has to decide what to make of it.
My guess is that Jesse will view this as a slightly embarassing interlude, and that Nick will forget it all together. Neither character was all that deeply invested in the relationship.
The two principals provide good skin. There is a filmography but no other generally useful extras. The location shuttles between Seattle and Portland.
Darrin C. Smith | California, USA | 04/02/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Graffiti Artist - 3 1/2 *'s
The simplicity of this film is inspiring; minimal dialogue, no over the top drama, just an artist creating, a kid "being". I feel the film makers did a tremendous job of creating this believable reality and expressing such emotional depth with such minimal verbiage. An invisible kid living on the streets of Seattle, gifting society with his art that most would consider "worthless" Graffiti. "