Artists, Jean Michel Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright), Andy Warhol (David Bowie), Albert Milo (Gary Oldman, essentially portraying Julian Schnabel) and dealer Bruno Bischofberger (Dennis Hopper) pose for a photographer in a scene from the 1996 film ‘Basquiat’.

Basquiat (1996)

Directed by Julian Schnabel

The term ‘Neo-expressionism’ has little currency amongst art historians today. A meaningless moniker, it’s authority as a label for a perceived ‘return to painting’ in the 1980s is gradually eroding. There are two artists for whom the term is most often employed. One is the director of this film, Julian Schnabel, and the other is its protagonist, Jean Michel Basquiat. Apart from its lead, Basquiat presents a vignette of characters who are all surface and no depth. The idea is to emphasise Basquiat’s enigmatic and isolated nature. The result is a cold yet visually compelling film.  Continue reading


Drive (2011)

Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn

Drive will almost certainly split audiences into two camps. There will be those who will describe the film as a triumph of style over substance and those who will argue that its substance is to be found in its style. A.O. Scott described the film as ‘a prisoner of its own emptiness, substituting moods for emotions and borrowed style for real audacity’. Unlike Scott, I find my self in the latter camp; Director Nicholas Winding Refn knowingly uses gloss and surface to illustrate the character of L.A. and the spiritual absence at the core of its inhabitants.  Continue reading