Here’s a trailer for the new Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child doc that premiered at Sundance and will probably hit Film Forum this year. The film highlights heroin abuse, touches on racial exploitation and centers around intimate 1986 footage of Jean-Michel Basquiat, friend/designer Becky Johnson and friend/doc-director/Mike D’s wife Tamra Davis.
Variety’s verdict sets the film toward an arty, Basquiat-idolizing audience and christens it problematically as both “a tender ode from one friend to another” and “another wheel in the hype machine.” Padded heavily with usual talking heads, the centerpiece footage was shot shortly before the [in]famous artist’s death and seems worth seeing, whether or not you believe the hype. But it’s prompted by a rather obtuse defense via trailer captions: He was “my friend”! I sat on this for 20 years! Now give me ten dollars for hammering this home video into a film! If Davis really wanted to make a gift of the footage she hid in mourning for two decades, she should have just posted it to YouTube.