I just finished watching Don LePre’s infomercial on how to make money by placing “tiny classified ads” in newspapers around the nation. At 3:30 a.m. after writing a slew of checks to credit cards, LePre almost makes sense. Glad I didn’t watch “King Midas” that late at night right after I did the monthly bills or I would end up dealing.
In an odd way, “King Midas” is a template for how to be a player in the drug industry of a big city. Borrow a wad of cash from an Irish loan shark, buy an inventory of drugs with the cash and start your own business. For the lead character, Tommy Gold (Justin Michael Morales), this business is more than profitable.
Earlier in the film, Tommy the a small time drug dealer is collared by some undercover cops and put away for a couple years. After his sentence is up, he returns to the streets of Hartford to make it big in the drug trade. Using basic business principles of supply, demand, marketing, and incentives, Tommy quickly makes a lot a ton of cash – and a ton of enemies on the streets. He rules hard and lays down his law when needed – not batting an eye when ordering the death of his competition.
“King Midas” uses a familiar get-rich-quick scenario like what was seen in Requiem for a Dream, however, “King Midas” results in a less realistic downfall.
The message of “King Midas” is not necessarily that drug use and dealing is bad. In fact, without a moral compass, one might look at this as a how-to film on making fast cash with the dope trade. Rather, “King Midas” takes a less moralistic view and presents the drug culture as one that is thriving and will not be eradicated easily.
At times, it feels that “King Midas” strives for the moral high-ground and making a message about drug use – like the lectures that Tommy Gold gives his little brother on why he shouldn’t deal – but that message evaporates quickly when we return to Tommy’s phat palatial pad.
Shot on DV and film looked, “King Midas” has the feel of an HBO Undercover special and gains its strength through its documentary feel. Even those who are not big fans of the hip-hop culture will find that the story moves and there are few slow moments. Much of this is due to some impressive editing, performed by writer/director Brandon David Cole. About half of the film is cut like a hip-hop music video, and the pacing moves the story along.
One interesting note is the film’s location – Hartford, Connecticut. They have a drug problem in Connecticut? Weren’t all drug problems in the big cities like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, L.A., Chicago, Atlanta, and Detroit? “King Midas” has an interesting touch of showing the underbelly of an unlikely city. I live in Columbus, Ohio (which is cow-town to anyone outside of Ohio), and we have all the big city problems like drugs, prostitution, and violent crimes. I would imagine Hartford is the same way. It’s refreshing to find a film that shows that drugs is something that does happen in flyover country.