BASQUIAT (at last)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Reuben, Sep 9, 2002.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Arriving so far under the radar that some online dealers didn't even list it, Buena Vista has finally released the DVD of Julian Schnabel's directorial debut. An episodic but entertaining look at the life, sudden success and untimely death of Jean Michel Basquiat, one of the artists who dominated the New York scene in the 80s, the film is notable both for its all-star cast (David Bowie, Dennis Hopper, Michael Wincott, Benicio del Toro, and a host of familiar faces in bit roles) and as the film debut of Jeffrey Wright in the title role.

    Wright is one of the most respected actors on the New York stage, and he's truly the show here. He doesn't have many lines, but he's in nearly every shot, and his every gesture and facial expression is worth watching as Basquiat reacts in unpredictable ways to the people and events around him. To appreciate just how complete a transformation the performance is, it helps if you've seen Wright in something else; I recommend his turn as Peoples Hernandez in Shaft. And if you want to see a masterpiece of acting as reacting, watch Wright's Basquiat as he's confronted by a pushy interviewer played to perfection by Christopher Walken. It's funny and painful in equal measure.

    The disc is bare-bones, but the film is well-rendered. It's 1.85:1, enhanced for 16:9, and aptly renders the slightly dingy cinematography that captures the look of New York in the 80s (Basquiat's paintings are often the brightest thing in the frame). The soundtrack is DD 5.1, which is mostly a benefit for the musical selections; the film was low-budget, and there's little in the way of sound effects. The only extra is a trailer, plus some DVD-specific trailers for other Miramax titles. List price is a decent $19.99; I got it for $13.99 online. Well worth it if you're a fan of the film, the artist or the period.

    M.
     
  2. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

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    I'll be picking this one up. Thanks for the reminder.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Michael,
    Another good role in which Jeffrey Wright was very good in is "Boycott", a HBO movie in which he played a young minister named Martin Luther King.




    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Crawdaddy --

    I've only seen part of Boycott; it's on my "gotta watch this someday" list.

    Wright is one of those supremely gifted actors who will probably never be as widely known as he should, simply because he prefers the stage and, when he does do movies, vanishes so completely into the character that nobody recognizes him. His next major role is a reprise of his Tony-award winning performance in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, currently being filmed for HBO as a mini-series directed by Mike Nichols. The cast also includes Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Mary-Louise Parker.

    M.
     
  5. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Michael, thanks for the heads-up on this. I'll keep an eye out for it! [​IMG]
     
  6. chris larralde

    chris larralde Stunt Coordinator

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    FINALLY!!!

    I've been waiting a long time for this one. I'll definitely be picking it up!!
     
  7. Nigel McN

    Nigel McN Supporting Actor

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    Holy cow, he was Peoples Hernandez? I never would of put those 2 roles together. I quite enjoyed this film and will definitely consider picking this up.
     

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