We should all pretend to like "Basquiat." Then about ten of us can sit arounda coffee table made to seat two people while we sip frappuccinos and comment that our appreciation of such a film makes us incredibly smarter than common riffraff who "didn't get it."
Rest assured that you'll feel like an idiot walking out of this film, which is reason enough not to see it. The pressure created by the surrounding throngs of pseudo-intellectuals who'll never admit that something went over their heads, down their back, through the crack of their ass and right into the gutter is so great that it's just easier to scream "fabulous" and faint. You might know that Basquiat was a famous '80s artist, but unfortunately, fellow artist and first-time filmmaker Julian Schnabel doesn't seem the least bit interested in telling a story. What he does seem interested in is patting himself on the back for being involved in the hip art scene.
Like his art, Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright) is portrayed as commanding popularity but little substance. Meanwhile, Schnabel rotates characters in and out of the story like mannequins as fleeting appearances by actors Michael Wincott, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, Courtney Love and Tatum O'Neal make the movie feel less like a study in art and more like a broken ride in a wax museum.
To cement our disinterest, Schnabel tosses in a few Rolling Stones songs to complement his mess. As both "The Fan" and "Basquiat," released within a week of each other, use Stones tunes, it would seem that Mick and the boys are having some sort of fire sale.
People usually qualify their taste in art with the dictum, "I know what I like." Upon leaving "Basquiat," I was similarly assured -- I know what I don't like.
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