Quality of Life (Against The Wall) (2006)
Filmed on location in San Francisco, this Berlin Film Festival award winner tells the story of two talented artists whose chosen form of expression -- graffiti -- puts them at odds with the law. When famed urban artists Michael "Heir" Rosario (Lane Garrison) and Curtis "Vain" Smith (Brian Burnam) are forced to give up their outlaw craft, the young men ultimately follow divergent paths, placing their friendship at risk.
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Critic Reviews for Quality of Life (Against The Wall)
Although the filmmakers have succeeded in portraying a raw slice of street culture, they have also made something that seems unnecessarily stiff, foisting a structural conceit onto something that by its very nature is free-form and uncontainable.
Pic's cliched underlying story of restless youth plays as too naive for an older audience and too provocative for teens.
It's a setup as old as the hills, but the unvarnished simplicity with which first-time director Benjamin Morgan rolls it out makes the tale worth another go-round.
A minor, modest indie about two young graffiti artists forced to choose between creative marginalization and the seductions of the marketplace.
Morgan, who co-wrote with Burnam, elicits authentic performances from his two lead actors and from Mackenzie Firgens as Curtis' single-mom girlfriend.
It's up to the consistently fluid ensemble acting and colloquially sound dialogue to keep things on track, which they do admirably.
While Burnam and Garrison imbue their characters with authentic-feeling frustration and anger, they never succeed in making them especially interesting; it's hard to care in any serious way what becomes of either.
The film's aesthetic often suggests a Modern Living editor's take on a graffiti-ridden hood, but Morgan is almost chill for not trying to front ghetto idolatry.
The best low-budget indie ever shot in San Francisco's Mission District...
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