Wholetrain Florian Gaag

Wholetrain Florian Gaag
The latest graffiti flick is an award-winning indie film from Germany titled Wholetrain, and it's a worthy successor to old school movies about graff writing culture such as Wild Style and Style Wars. The vibe of those films has been successfully transferred from NYC to Munich, mirroring those early days of writers going all-city by painting murals on subway cars. Writer/director Florian Gaag (himself a graffiti writer who made a name for himself in Munich during the rise of the culture in Germany in the late '80s) and the actors involved capture the fear and paranoia of getting caught by transit cops and city police. The four main characters are portrayed as more than just vandals writing on the wall, with the documentary-style camera crew following the multi-cultural, multi-class Keep Steel Burning crew through their regular life activities, such as school, work and time with family. With established writers on board to provide the actual art, the graffiti looks great, but as the making of documentary reveals, all of the actors underwent a crash course in graf writing in order to lend their painting and drawing scenes a bit of authenticity. The movie can be touching, at times, and the pro-graffiti message is obvious, but unfortunately, Wholetrain suffers from a thin plot. As new school crew Above the Law begins to challenge the supremacy of KSB, lead writer David (Mike Adler) struggles with his probation while attempting to keep the crew together and safe, Tino (Florian Renner) balances the responsibilities of fatherhood with his desire to best ATL and Elyas (Elyas M'Barek) fights to overcome his jealousy of Achim (Jacob Matschenz), the new apprentice to David, who has to hide his participation in the culture from his rich family. All of this culminates in a competition to paint a whole train, thus the title. The authenticity of the film should allow Wholetrain to appeal to graffiti and hip-hop heads, but it will be a hard sell to a wider audience. (Goldkind/Groove Attack)