As with so many other young, contemporary idols (Kurt Cobain comes immediately to mind), Basquiat was painfully and tragically self-aware regarding his success. He himself had laid out bait to attract it, and when it offered its hand, he bared his teeth and clamped on. Basquiat is best in its clear-eyed view of him as neither hero nor martyr, but as someone less enviable, and less pitiable. In this sense, it's a pretty classic parable, one that rises above its flaws to do justice to the artist, and to the soul-sucking arena in which he thrived and died. CP
Basquiat starts Friday at Lagoon Cinema.