“Nobody loves a genius child.” Those are words from Langston Hughes’s poem “Genius Child,” used as the hyperbolic epigraph in Tamra Davis’s worshipful documentary portrait, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child.”
look at this trailer :
here better soundtrack
the jazz music is incredible !! so great!!!
Music : by J. Ralph, Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond
But after watching this homage to an artistic wunderkind, constructed around a rare question-and-answer interview with Basquiat that Ms. Davis filmed in 1985 (their mutual friend Becky Johnson asked the questions), then put in a drawer, you might revise Hughes’s declaration to read, “Nobody knows the genius child, least of all himself.
” Some might even question the use of the word “genius.”
Basquiat, at the height of his fame in the 1980s, was undoubtedly loved in the way that charismatic celebrities are loved and envied.
One of his admirers was Andy Warhol,
who, if not in love with Basquiat, certainly desired him, and was his champion at a crucial moment in Basquiat’s ascendance.
The film’s romantic depiction of Basquiat is an old story.
An artistically driven, voraciously ambitious, devastatingly charming wild child, he was devoured by the fame he craved and died of a drug overdose in 1988 .
After Warhold's death in 1987, Basquiat became increasingly isolated, and his drug use and depression increased. He died of a heroin overdose the next year at age 27.
The movie does not go into the gory details of his dissipation and addiction.
Although sophisticated in its blasé acceptance of art-world wheeling and dealing and the temptations that accompany sudden fame and wealth, it is also tenderly protective of its subject.
Basquiat comes across in the interview as elusive and seductive in much the same way that the early Bob Dylan did, but without the defense of language.
His verbal talent found its expression in his Neo-Expressionist graffiti art, with its scrawled cryptograms and crossed-out words. Such deletions, he said, made their meanings all the more tempting to decode.
“The Radiant Child” begins by directly connecting Basquiat’s art to New York City’s blight in the 1970s, then widens its perspective to portray Basquiat as someone whose acute attunement to art history and popular culture found its way onto his savagely energetic canvases.
He imprinted himself on the landscape with his graffiti, executed under the name SAMO; as an underground star, he became a regular guest on “TV Party,” a public-access show hosted by his friend Glenn O’Brien, one of the film’s more articulate talking heads.
Other commentators include the artist’s friend Julian Schnabel, who directed the 1996 biographical film “Basquiat” (starring Jeffrey Wright as Basquiat, and David Bowie as Warhol), and the rapper, hip-hop historian and graffitist Fab 5 Freddy.
The closest we get to Basquiat is in the recollections of the gallery owner Annina Nosei, in whose basement he painted, and Suzanne Mallouk, a girlfriend who took him in when he was still poor.
Some of the interview’s most fascinating moments are Basquiat’s memories of his hand-to-mouth existence after running away from home as a teenager.
Born to parents who were of Haitian (his father) and Puerto Rican (his mother) descent, he rebelled against a middle-class background for reasons that remain unclear.
A seemingly embattled relationship with his father, an accountant, is referred to but not explored.
The film takes the heady view that his flight from home was the necessary odyssey of an unstoppable Rimbaud-like visionary.
This is not to say that “The Radiant Child” isn’t a valuable film ( may be just for me it is ..)
It places Basquiat’s art in a cultural context with an enthusiasm and zest that make the many pictures shown come blazingly alive. His bitter contemplations of black history, in particular, have an epic, historical dimension, while also reflecting his own insecurity about being treated as an exotic, token black star in a predominantly white art world.
One tantalizing anecdote tells of his disgust at a patron who asked him to color-coordinate a painting to her living room.
Basquiat was an ardent fan of bebop, and the frenetically edited scenes of his paintings with jazz accompaniment evoke an artist who worked quickly and needed intense music for creative stimulation.
Once Basquiat became rich, his loft became party central; wads of cash were casually stuffed in the furniture.
If “The Radiant Child” embellishes the legend in a hundred small ways, its cleverest maneuver is to keep its subject at enough of a remove to enhance his mystique.
It should help push the prices of his work higher.
NYC / in Manhattan ( first time . july 21 ): Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
Written and directed by Tamra Davis; di- rectors of photography, Ms. Davis, David Koh and Harry Geller; edited by Alexis Manya Spraic;
*** music by J. Ralph, Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond;
produced by Ms. Davis, Mr. Koh, Lilly Bright, Stan- ley Buchthal and Ms. Spraic;
released by Arthouse Films.
*** At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. .
source : NY TIMES