“Boom for Real,” colorful history of Downtown New York starring Jean-Michel Basquiat and friends, Part 1
In Part One of our 2-part coverage of the new documentary, Roberta gives a brief overview of the film and says it’s not a bio-pic but a history flick about an era in which Basquiat was a player who turns out to be major. The film opens today at Ritz at the Bourse. Stay tuned for Imani Roach’s review coming up soon!

sponsored

Jean Michel Basquiat first appears in the movie with his million-dollar name in the title a full five minutes in. Which is not to say the movie’s mistitled, or that it’s not about him, but “Boom for Real” — in its brief 78 minutes — is a lot more and a little less than a biography of the artist. The film, directed by Sara Driver, is a history of downtown New York in the 1970s and ‘80s told through montages of archival film and photos intercut with new interviews with the scene’s participants, all of whom knew the teenager they called Jean.

Jean and friends in BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo Credit: © Alexis Adler. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Jean and friends in BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo Credit: © Alexis Adler. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

On camera, writers Carlo McCormick and Luc Sante, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, artists Kenny Scharf and Lee Quinones, artist and hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy writer, performer and musician, Jennifer Jazz and others talk about the young Basquiat. And they talk a lot about the scene — the drugs and sex, violent crime, empty buildings burned down for insurance money, squatters and homeless in what sounds like an abandoned part of the city. They make the downtown scene sound magical as well as dangerous. And they make Basquiat sound charismatic and ambitious. (See Hollywood’s many treatments of the era and the documentary “Wall Writers,” which we told you about here.

Photos and film of Basquiat, some of it not seen before, show him developing his vocabulary of images and words — writing on walls, refrigerator and other surfaces in a friend’s apartment. Jean was young (18) and a bit of a changeling, and to a very real extent he was a “tabula rasa.” Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (partner of Sara Driver the director of Boom for Real) says Basquiat was like a filter “taking things from everywhere,” and distilling them for his use. “I’m so honored to have known him,” he says, a sentiment echoed by others in the film.

The film ends with a surprising metaphorical turn — NASA clips of rockets blasting into space and talk of the dreamy Basquiat rocketing to the stars. It’s a little much in a movie that otherwise is a workmanlike straightforward documentary. Basquiat lived for seven years after selling his first painting. He died in 1988 of an overdose at age 27. See his Wikipedia page for more.  And read Imani’s review of Boom for Real in Part 2 of this 2-part review!

BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT opens Friday, May 18, 2018 and runs through Thursday, May 24, 2018, at the Landmark’s Ritz at the Bourse Cinema, 400 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tickets here.

Tags

downtown new york, jean michel basquiat, ritz at the bourse

sponsored
sponsored

Moving Artblog Forward - Celebrating 15 Years - Donate Today!

Artblog is passionate about art. If you are too, please help us in our Annual Appeal Campaign!

Send this to a friend