Newly remastered black-and-white ‘Basquiat’ biopic for its 25th anniversary – The Hollywood Reporter
You can’t escape the symbolism and symmetry on Thursday night in New York City at the 25th anniversary screening of Basquiat, the 1996 Impressionist film biography of the late Brooklyn-born black artist and iconic downtown figure of the ’80s, directed by artist Julian Schnabel.
Newly remastered in black and white, it was presented as part of the Tribeca Festival with the support of longtime patron Chanel. As dusk began to fall in the sculpture garden in the center of the Museum of Modern Art, a crowd of personalities from the art world, young actresses in Parisian fashion house finery and festival regulars all seemed a little surprised to be there and talk about their socialization of flashbacks, with the overwhelming feeling that it was great but a little weird to be in a crowd of people again, no mask though certified by vaccines. After all, it was only two nights before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the Empire State was reopened in a fireworks display after the state passed the inoculation threshold of 70. %.
For producer Jane Rosenthal, the original founder of the festival with actor Robert De Niro, the sight of New Yorkers emerging after the pandemic couldn’t help but recall the trauma that initially led to the founding of the film event in 2001. “We did it. the first festival after September 11, in 120 days, and the goal then was to come together, to bring people together and to watch movies and to be able to bring a little joy and try to create a new memory, ”he said. she called back.
Now, coming out of COVID in the year of the festival’s 20th anniversary, the momentum has been about the same. “We were planning this festival at the height of this pandemic, and we created this outdoor multiplex and it was spectacular. But the amazing thing is just the fact that we can see each other in person. Because it’s been really, really fun, ”Rosenthal said slowly, trying to stay calm. “There are no words. You don’t realize what can be taken away from you so quickly. It wasn’t just half of our faces, the fact that we couldn’t see people, that we were isolated. And now we are opening the Museum of Modern Art.
By presenting his film in front of an open-air screen with skyscrapers ringing the courtyard from above, Schnabel struck a similar theme. “It’s amazing when you realize how precious it is to just be able to go out and see your friends and give them a hug,” he said, before moving on to the topic in question. “I think Jean-Michel will be very happy to have an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re going to show a movie. I haven’t had the opportunity to have a show either but I’m still young, ”the 69-year-old said, delighting his friends by adding that he and his wife Louise Kugelberg were expecting a baby. It was sort of old house week for the artist, who in the past contributed an original piece of art to the festival presented by Chanel over the years and was an integral part of the fashion house’s partnership. with Tribeca focusing on artists supporting other artists.
“Benicio Del Toro [a star of the film] called me today – he just arrived in town, but he can’t be here – but it was so amazing working with Benicio and being surrounded by actors, ”said Schnabel, recalling the origins of his first feature film. “There aren’t many directors or actors who come to the painter‘s studios. I knew Jean-Michel. Although he was first approached by Polish director Lech Majewski who wanted to make a film about Basquiat, Schnabel said he ultimately felt that Majewski had no real knowledge of the subject: “I introduced him to Dennis Hopper who told him about Andy Warhol, and he didn’t listen to anything Dennis had to say.
Schnabel continued, “I thought making films was for other people. I didn’t have a movie camera. But I was the guy who was actually in the caviar shop with Jean-Michel [referring to a pivotal scene where the newly flush artist is handed a jar of caviar by the counterman and asks for the whole tin.] I was the guy in the basement watching him paint.
In black and white, as Schnabel hinted at, the colorful art is muted and what stands out is not just the brief tragedy of the revolutionary artist who seemed to fit in less and less as he battled fame and addiction in the moving portrayal of actor Jeffrey Wright, but also the procession of inhabitants of the 1980s art world as somewhat hauntingly interpreted by a roster of downtown characters from the years 1990 dating from the making of the film 25 years ago, including the late David Bowie as Andy Warhol and Hopper as art dealer Bruno Bischofberger as well as very young and talkative Gary Oldman as a composite character at the Schnabel and Parker Posey (as gallerist Mary Boone), Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, Courtney Love and Tatum O’Neal.
Rosenthal of the festival thinks the film’s rebirth is particularly timely now. “It’s a time of young artists and it’s a time of new voices and it’s a time of diversity. It resonates a lot with what we have been through and will continue to live until there is an equal and fair balance, ”she said. “Julian is a wonderful artist and a very articulate and specific filmmaker. Sometimes you listen to artists more, be it a musician, a filmmaker or a work of art. This is what we need right now. We must be able to listen.