'He’s a painter and I'm a painter. He’s dead and I'm alive. If he hadn't died, I probably wouldn't have made this movie, but I thought I had a particular insight into the isolation he felt, and that all artists feel. In a way, it could have been me.’
Such is Julian Schnabel’s rationalisation of why he put his own successful and not a little controversial art career on hold to make his first movie, Basquiat. It’s an impressive celluloid tribute to his departed friend, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who lit a blazing trajectory from street-punk to feted contemporary artist before a tragic drugs overdose ended his life before his 28th year.
'I think of it as a work of art,’ says the 45-year-old New Yorker, loathed and lionised for his grandiose canvases in his day, but already the subject of retrospectives at the Pompidou in Paris and London's Whitechapel Gallery. 'I mean, it’s not like I did a commercial movie for the money, so I think you could include it in my oeuvre. On the other hand, you don't have to know who Jean-Michel was, who I am, or even who Andy Warhol was, to discover the human story in the film. Jean-Michel believed all that stuff about Charlie Parker and Jimi
Hendrix, the idea that you could produce all this extraordinary work even if you were killing yourself. For him, it was like your life was the price you paid for
Brash, burly, wrapped in shades and a Yohji Yamamoto overcoat beneath a baseball cap, Schnabel is a figure untroubled by any doubt in his own abilities, and quite willing to name himself among the greatest living painters. Yet it has to be said, with the support of friends like Dennis Hopper and Harvey Keitel, in Basquiat he has just made a first feature that many a young moviemaker would be proud of — at once
Artist's impression: Jeffrey Wright in Basquiat
personal and accessible, elegiac and celebratory. Just don’t get him talking about the hype in the art world that inflated his prices and (some say) damaged his
’If you make a lot of money in real estate, you're a good businessman; if you're a successful artist, you're corrupt,’ he seizes on a favourite subject with an acidic smile. 'If you're a poor artist, you’re noble; but a poor dentist, you're a schmuck. Tell me if there isn't some sort of a double standard operating there.’ (Trevor Johnston) I! Basquiat plays Glasgow OdeOn . t the Quay from Fri 4 Apr and Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 7 J Apr See .’("Vl(:”.‘/.
The way we were: Chris Shepherd's The Broken Jaw
Stirling: MacRobert Arts Centre, Sun 6-Sun 13 Apr.
Animators are even worse than computer enthusiasts when it comes to locking themselves away in a small room on their own for hours on end. Perhaps this is why so much contemporary animation has a dark, challenging edge to it.
Phil Mulloy wears the crown as the king of bleak British animation. The
22 THE U8T 4—17 Apr 1997
Sound Of Music, which won him the McLaren Award for Best British Animation at the 1994 Edinburgh Film Festival, was a tapestry of human despair. This year’s Animation Festival at Stirling University’s MacRobert Arts Centre includes two of Mulloy's more recent works, both featuring his skeletal black silhouette figures against a world coloured only by burned—out white and blood red. The Wind 0/ Change uses the memories of musician Alex Balenesw to paint a cynical
picture of the mseCur‘ities in both communist an'l capitalist societies, Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbours Wife is a warped fantasy about self- destructrve desires.
Other works in the 'New British Anirnation' programme (Sat 12 Apr) include John Colin's tale of sibling rivalry, The Hap/ens Chi/d, all the scarier for its ir'ini_'>cent-faced china dolls, and Chris Shepherd's The Broken law, where the progress of urban developirtent around a pub only proves that nothing ever changes The best of gothic animation is shoxnmased in 'Tales Cf Mystery And lriiagzhzition‘ (Sun 6 Apr), featuring ,lI'i Barta’s classic rendering of The "Wt." Piper, ‘.‘/lllCll underlines the ( rue! morality of the tale by placmg real rats alongs«de the menacing woodcut puppets
It's not all doom and gloom though. Aardnan's Osc‘ar-norriinated Wat s Pig is a cheery lairv tale on the vagaries of fate, while Love Over Gel/fish literally views the ‘.‘."Ol’ltl through a fish-eve lens of an upside-down pet. These slivers of light peek through the clouds of a week-long collection of works that capture the irriagznatzve power of the medium lAlan i'\‘lorrisonfi a See listings and index for details of
What’s hot in the world of cinema sounds
The key to a successful compilation album is to achieve some diversity while not taking it to the stage where the buyer has to skip more tracks than they want to listen to. Like Trainspotting last year, Basquiat (island, i i t it a) fits the bill, with an artier backbone holding it together. It’s here you’ll find Tom Waits, John Cale, David Bowre and an excellent new song by P. J. Harvey. A pity that Tripping Daisy murder PIL’s ’Rise' as Americanised post-grunge, but quality elsewhere lets them off with a suspended sentence.
Romeo And Juliet (Premiere, 1* + it it) draws from wider extremes — from the rock of Everclear to the disco camp of Kym Mazelle's 'Young Hearts Run Free’. The overall mood, however, is funkier and more soulful, With the standard set by Des’ree’s 'Love Theme’. Grace Of My Heart (MCA, * it it * *J is more unified than most, no doubt due to the fact that Allison Anders's film is set in the recording industry. New songs are written in the style of the times, and echo the girl groups of the 60s and female singer-songwriters of the early 70s. Dinosaur Jnr's surf pop ’Take A Run At The Sun' made NME's Single Of The Week, but it’s outdone by Elvrs Costello and Burt Bat harach's majestic Cod Give Me Strength'.
Turning to the art of film score composition, few people have as impressive a CV as John Williams, and few soundtrack albums are as beautifully presented as the Star Wars Trilogy (BMG Classics, is «r s it at). The Special Edition set comes as three double albums with laser-etched CDs (featuring previously unreleased material) and a hardcover booklet whose detailed programme notes describe With clarity the link between the music and the screen images. The recordings, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra, simply couldn’t be better. Over the c0urse of the three films, Williams creates a richly textured symphonic whole, drawrng from the full palette of the orchestra and employing the Wagnerian technique of leitmotif themes to capture the spirit of indiVidual characters (Alan Morrison)