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Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat offers an insightful look into a key period of the artist's life, his peers and influences, and the early '80s art world.
All Critics (47)
| Top Critics (11)
| Fresh (42)
| Rotten (5)
Because Basquiat started as a graffiti artist, many of his earliest works were destroyed, so the rare photos here, provided by his friend Alexis Adler, are illuminating.
The film doesn't quite get under Basquiat's skin, but does a thorough job of reconstructing that forgotten city of late-70s New York in which Basquiat came of age.
"Boom for Real" paints a stirring picture of a young artist on his way to the top.
What's admirable about the film is how Driver gives the cross-pollinating forces of music, media, fashion and art such concise, firsthand exploration.
It's a bit suspicious not to meet anyone who now regrets tossing out both art and artist when things went too far.
Fans of Basquiat, Driver and her many, many interview subjects will eat it up. Everyone else will feel compelled on more than one occasion to check their phones.
We could just be the art world.
A life like this is never tidy and neither is Driver's documentary. Moving at speed, it reflects the impatience of the teenager, constantly switching from one thing to another
This potent love letter to Basquiat is also a Proustian remembrance of things past and a pre-gentrification New York City, where anything seemed possible.
The documentary's under-90-minute brevity makes these events feel like they are happening even faster than they did, creating a simulacra of witnessing Basquiat's talent.
Down, delightfully dirty and almost impossible to reconcile with last year's record-breaking $110 million sale of Basquiat's untitled skull painting, Boom for Real is for real all right.
Driver never uses interview footage, relying on the testimony of those present while capturing the club culture and underground galleries that were his home. It's a valuable insider's view: steeped in history, but shorn of nostalgia.
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