KICKS Trailer: Streets Is Watching, And So Should You

This Inner-City coming of age tale should be very high on your priority list.

Earlier this year, I did a recap of recent outstanding Afro-centric films and expressed optimism that the trend would continue. During my time at the Tribeca Film Festival, I was overjoyed to discover a film which exceed that expectation. Now that it has an official theatrical release date, it is my supreme pleasure to present to you the trailer for the fantastic film Kicks.

The synopsis from the official website reads:

In director Justin Tipping's feature debut Kicks, nothing is as simple as it seems. 15-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy; assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone -- even his best friends. Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood, Flaco. Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow. Boasting a strong ensemble cast, and featuring a memorable lead performance by newcomer Jahking Guillory, the film transcends a deceptively traditional hero's journey to deliver an entertaining and sobering look at the realities of inner-city life, the concept of manhood and the fetishization of sneaker culture. Visually and thematically rich, with an amazing soundtrack of both hip-hop classics and Bay Area favorites, Kicks creates an authentic and original portrait of a young man drowning in the expectations of machismo.

Truth be told, the trailer actually shows most of the film's plot, though there isn't really a need to worry about spoilers with this relatively straight-forward premise. What I can tell you for certain is that Kicks is a terrific coming of age film bursting with Hip-Hop energy, fidelity, and most importantly hope. This trailer will likely elicit comparisons to the film Dope, which also tells the tale of a black youth in the hood on his journey into adulthood. While functionally similar, Kicks is a far more grounded and somewhat darker take on the subject matter, sure to please viewers who felt the latter parts of Dope went off the rails a bit.

The film does get pretty gritty at certain moments, but there is also strong esoteric/”artsy” aesthetic at play, primarily in the form of the Astronaut character who appears throughout the movie. Kicks is in the same vein as hood classics like Boyz N The Hood, but it is also shares a mind with films like Requiem For A Dream. What I'm trying to get across here is that “black hood movies” do not have to adhere to one set tone in order for them to be “faithful” or to work narratively. Not every movie about life in the streets needs a constant dark and gritty tone; not every movie that takes place in the ghetto needs to be super serious. There is so much more to our consciousness than that, and director Justin Tipping has done a remarkable job expressing that in every element of the film. In particular, it should be immediately apparent just how gorgeous the film looks. Sure enough, Kicks won this year's Tribeca Film Festival award for Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film. The lush scenery and dream-like compositions correspond with my assertion that Inner-city/Urban life is bursting with vibrancy and color.

Kicks is currently in my top five for 2016. Thankfully, you will all get the chance to see for yourselves when it hits theaters on September 9.