I found the Black version of “West Side Story”

I just watched an independent movie. For once I felt exactly what I heard so many people describe before. A deep connection to the movie. I felt like the movie described one of my potential life in a dimension not too distant. I felt that the characters were distant relatives. I felt that where the movie was filmed could have been a version of where I could have been brought up. I had so many different feelings over 90 minutes… I get why this movie got 84% on rotten tomatoes, with a probably a very low budget. I get why it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. That movie is “Kicks”. Here is some info from rotten tomatoes:

In Justin Tipping’s feature debut Kicks, nothing is as simple as it seems. Fifteen-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. 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.


Why am I calling it the Black version of West Side Story? (Frankly, it could have been any other classic mainstream movie). How often I went to watch independent films, with very high scores on rotten tomatoes and felt like poking my eyes would have been less painful. And that is even when moves come highly recommended by great friends! I thought people were doing that to me by malice. Now I understand that they have a different worldview. What they see, feel, hear is based on their worldview, their experiences and to some extent their expectations. I need to “Kicks” on some of my non-initiated friends and study them very carefully. Well, I won’t do it, but instead, I am ready to bet a whole quarter that it would go as follow:

  • Is that his natural hair?
  • What are Air Jordan 1 BRED? and why are they so expensive?
  • Why are the shoes wrapped in cling film?
  • Why he does not want to play basketball with basketball shoes?
  • Where is the police? why are people being beaten up for no reasons?
  • Is that Flaco guy a thug or a caring father?
  • Why is there so much intimidation and bullying?
  • It does not make sense to risk your life for a pair of shoes?
  • Why are his friends following him, when they know they are risking their life, and it does not make sense?

Let me shed some light through my experience. Actually, I can not. The same way my friends cannot explain to me why some emotional scenes are having such an impact on them… I can not tell how likely and easy it is to do something stupid for your best friends. I get it that it is dumb… because it is! But your friends are everything in a particular environment. They are your life insurance, and you are theirs…

For parents, another way to express that feeling is through the love and dedication you have for your kids! There is probably no way to understand how much parents love their children, except if you have some.

Watch “Kicks” regardless of your background. You may or may not feel it. If you do, this is probably once of the first time! so enjoy. If you don’t, you will have experience how culture changes your worldview.