DIRECTOR:                     JULIAN SCHNABEL
COUNTRY:                     USA 1996
MUSIC:                           JOHN CALE, JULIAN SCHNABEL
CAST:                             Jeffrey Wright, Michael Wincott, Benicio Del Toro, Clair Forlani, David Bowie, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman and a myriad of others
SUPER FEATURES:      Excellent film.

BASQUIAT, is a perfect example of what a film maker can do, when he cares about what he is doing, rather than just making a film that is supposed to mean something.

The touches, the care, the details, and the totality of this film, is what makes this so endearing and important. Never mind the artist even. The film itself, though, is as good as it gets about the artist, and while it obviously does not approve of the artist's way, it never stops to make a judgment about his lifestyle, and here is the beauty of it all. As Jean Michel says " if I take it all out it will all become boring ... "

And this is what the film does so well. Whether the performances are close to the originals or not is another question, but it is hard to fault the attitudes that some people take here. New York does get its share of shit for art, that becomes known as "art", and although Basquiat and Warhol were not major intuitive players, they did add a certain amount of freshness and weirdness to the period that helped push the buttons, and expand the art business in that area, and eventually around the world.

But it was not new. And it was not tremendously original. Jean Michel Basquiat, did however have to offer something that others did not. He did have an artistic perception that others around him did not, not even Andy Warhol. And the film does go a bit out of its way to show that Andy Warhol is really not the artist that he was made out to be, and lacked the resolution to be the intuitive force that Basquiat DID have.

Few films stand out in the art world. Generally films that deal with music do better in film. Films about writers tend to be harsh to stick with as the narratives get tiresome. But films about art, are even harder, because it is necessary that one embroider the work into the film, and this is not easy. The best of these, LA BELLE NOISEUSSE, is four hours long, but it is riveting, and the main subject IS the art, and the main people involved in it, the painter and the model. With Basquiat, he is his own model through his feelings, and this allows for a nice place for the film to come from.

Few films take care of things like this one does... it is excellent. And should be seen. It's a shame that it did not get a wider release, because the film has excellent music and visual imagery to really blow off most star wars assholes.





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