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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
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on April 21, 2005
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 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.
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on May 2, 2005
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.
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on August 3, 2005
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.
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on February 19, 2013
Ok I don't know where I originally heard about this movie. But when I did I could not wait to watch it. Its starts out with a lost teenager skating around Portland doing graffiti and its a bit creepy and has a haunting sound track with no dialog during the first twenty or so minutes. Then he eyes another skater. He ended up bumping into the skater and they hang out together skate and do graffiti. They end up making love but the next day the guy disappears and the other one comes looking for him falling his tags on the wall. I'm not going to go into details but we I watch this movie at the drop in center that I go to in the lower east side and everyone liked it and they were surprised (sort of) at the ending.

This is a must see if you are young LGBT or non LGBT skater or graffiti artist because it a haunting story and it gives you some great views of Portland.
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on June 24, 2011
This was the director's most accomplished film. "Eban and Charley" is awkward, and although it's purposeful, it doesn't really work. I was unimpressed with "Dream Boy." But this film, "The Graffiti Artist," has some affinities with certain great cinema--the photography and quiet, solemn feel (Tarkovsky perhaps)--without being cramped by its own style. The scenes of the boys doing graffiti are brilliant, and there's a certain amount of indefiniteness as to how "real" they are. I was a little disappointed to see that Bolton cleared it up in an interview by describing how the film was made. There are some very good scenes that tip over into real-reality here, as opposed to cinema-reality (even if it were some kind of verite one were talking about, which this is well beyond), and it would have been better to leave it alone. The film is not primarily a gay film, either. It seems to me to be more a film about class than anything. The boy that Nick, the main character, meets, is obviously from the wealthier side of the tracks. And Nick leads an estranged, very poor existence. No attachments. No past. He's almost the perfect subject of globalism, and he certainly occupies its landscape: an emptiness filled with emptinesses. At the same time, his exact status is never fully cleared up. By this I don't mean his "job," but rather his exact position to the world that the other boy comes from.

My favorite line in the film: "YOU kissed ME!"
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on October 16, 2011
Nick is a young graffiti artist that spends his days painting in the streets, stealing food and aerosol sprays, and escaping from the police. He has no home, no family, no responsibilities. His whole world is contained and expressed in the elusiveness of graffiti.

Nick has no choice but to eat frugally and sleep on the streets; and neither the constant threat of being captured by the police dissuades him of his ways. As a decentered subject he fits in the role of what Spivak calls the subaltern. The marginal and the subaltern, after all, share much traces in common, chief amongst them the peripheral reality in which they thrive.

When Nick meets Jesse, a boy who is also a graffiti artist, he discovers he may not be doomed to be alone all the time. As one can observe, Nick is the subaltern not only because of his marginalized and maligned passion for graffiti, but also because he lacks a sense of center, he is devoid of those social rules deemed indispensable by most people, he couldn't care less about the law or the symbolic order. Jesse, on the other hand, is still tempting the waters, he breaks the law by painting walls, but he also obeys the law by paying for everything he needs, whether it is artistic supplies or food. Jesse's behavior thus contradicts Nick's imperatives, but despite the differences, or perhaps because of them, the two kids get along fine.

Throughout the film James Bolton provides the viewer only with the most essential visual information, as a result, one can only try to elicit the motivations behind the characters. Why would Nick spend all his waking hours breaking the law and living in miserable conditions to paint a graffiti that will only get erased? What does he truly pursue? When he smiles for the first and only time it is when he shares that which he loves the most, painting, with the only person that has treated him kindly and respectfully. And it is out of respect that Nick restraints himself: he watches his young friend's naked body after he steps out of the shower but stays away from it.

However, one steamy night Jesse tells Nick that they can sleep in the same bed. Jesse gets closer to Nick, and while kissing him proceeds to place his hand under Nick's underwear. This is not only an intense moment in which Jesse masturbates and kisses Nick, but also a statement about the characters. It's Jesse who takes the initiative even though Nick had been interested in him since the beginning. Nonetheless, this reckless act will have serious consequences. Can the two boys remain friends after this experience? And more importantly, should they remain as friends or move onto something else entirely? Is rupture the only possibility? Perhaps Jesse embodies the symbolic castration that is the condition sine qua non to be fully inserted in the symbolic order. Nick, on the contrary, doesn't give a damn about society's demands. He paints because that's what he loves doing and he won't let anyone tell him how to live his life. One can almost feel the sadness and silent despair of the protagonist. What force drives him to keep on doing that which could bring about his downfall? Perhaps it is that as a subaltern he has nothing to lose, while Jesse couldn't possible take so many risks. The final minutes of the film are most revealing about the true nature of the character. Bolton manages to subdue the fierceness of this first homosexual encounter while emphasizing in the elusive beauty of graffiti. A truly notable film.
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on April 2, 2008
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.
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on December 8, 2006
This is probably the oldest re-run of getting mad props. Racking cans, racking the camera and watching one kid have morals, but this is a movie.

I guess the gay part is different because the two monkeys have foreplay and pretty much say nothing at all. This one gives none and takes none.

This one's probably for the cash also but I don't know about society playing part in it. Continuity was cool in this one though.
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on January 5, 2007
i like graffitti movies so i bought this ,

and right off the bat it has tha cheesy graff flick feel, but is put together good almost like BOMB THE System ,

but this was before tries to show the relationship between graffti art and gang graffitti and the violence between the two,


but sooner than you think it turns into a an homo-erotic love storie about two juvenille boys , in the streets,

its has a preachy vibe and its really a weak plot. sad ending, ive given the director his due for taking on this story like this

but it think the majority of its target audience wont relate to the homosexual charcters..

get Bomb The System Instead,
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