A small section of the viewing world will likely eat up this graffiti documentary like candy. At 49 minutes in length, it's easy on the brain, but it packs in more information than you'd expect. Said information will be all-new to the remaining majority of the viewing world, those who aren't New York graffiti artists or devotees. As a cultural artifact, T-Kid-170 is educational and truly entertaining, and if you aspire to go up on a wall or train somewhere for all to see, you'll find this DVD recommended. If you're just looking to take your infatuation with Wild Style a few clicks further down the road, you could do lots worse than to Rent It.
Telling something of the life story of Julius Cavero, T-Kid-170 works much more heartily as a treatise on the meaning and function of graffiti as an art form (albeit a mostly illegal one). Along the way you'll learn something of the Kid's technique, his relationship to life, and (duh, they made a movie about him) the fact that he's pretty much the most influential East Coast graffiti artist of the last few decades.
Director Carly Starr Brullo Niles got the pick of the litter, so to speak, with access to 30 years of archival footage and Cavero's home movies, in order to tell the artist's story so far. In the telling of the story, Niles works with equanimity to legitimize an art and story-telling form that the vast majority of the population considers at best mere vandalism, at worst a crime. It's hard to argue with the positive viewpoint while briefly listening to DJ/Producer Goldie (a huge Cavero fan) as he waxes rhapsodic about the terrible kid, or when Cavero joins an international crew to take Paris by storm. Yet Niles touches lightly on the underbelly too, with contemporary night-vision footage of T-Kid tagging new trains on the down-low.
Whether you buy into Cavero's improbably rough-hewn rags-to-respectability story is down to your ability to open your mind to new and different realities than your own. Cavero did what he could to avoid becoming just another street gang statistic, working unrelentingly on the thing that means the most to him. That he became a celebrity along the way is a testament to his work ethic. That The Nasty Terrible T-Kid 170: Julius Cavero represents an exhilarating watch that rumbles like a subway train to a too-quick ending is testament to the skills and good heart of Carly Starr Brullo Niles. Though a slight package, graffiti aficionados will find this recommended, but even your everyday movie fan would do well to Rent It.