Basquiat [1996]

Director: Julian Schnabel
Stars: Jeffrey Wright, Michael Wincott, Benicio Del Toro, Claire Forlani, David Bowie
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 108 minutes

In his writing and directorial debut, Julian Schnabel's film Basquiat depicts the life of graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, a.k.a. SAMO, and the turbulent period from the late 1970s to 1988, as his life was catapulted into fame and notoriety. As Jean-Michel's work gained favorable attention from New York's elite art community, he went from a street punk living in a cardboard box to the first black artist to succeed in the all-white dominated art world. Tony Award-winning actor Jeffrey Wright does a brilliant job portraying a man tortured by self-doubt and thoughts of suicide, struggling to survive and be acknowledged as an artist. The film's use of dreamlike imagery and rhythmic pace tells the story from the perspective of Jean-Michel's eyes as he manages to "float" through relationships and gallery showings, until his impending death in 1988 from a heroin overdose. Brimming with talent, the film also stars David Bowie as pop-artist Andy Warhol, Michael Wincott as poet Rene Ricard, and many others, including Gary Oldman, Benicio del Toro, Dennis Hopper, and Courtney Love. --Michele Goodson

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