RENE 5:11

I can't say enough about how incredibly inventive I have always found this sequence with its simplicity of set-up, and the unabashed romance of artistic creation it invokes in the viewer. The sequence is a perfect use of montage, sound editing and time lapse; the three musical selections heard within the sequence are in total service of the character, and the music places Basquiat clearly within the artistic tradition of his influences, (mainly miles, dizzy, parker, roach, and hip hop) connecting the past with his present in too many ways to count.

Amazingly all of this is accomplished with the slightest of hand and deftest of cinematic touch by the director, Julian Schnabel, who managed to accomplish this in his first film with the most basic economy of means. This is something you almost never see, let alone see done well in films with all the money in the world behind them.

I don't know about the accuracy of this film's much debated portrayals of its characacters, and I don't really care because moments like this trump all talk of "facts." The first minute and a half is pure movie making, the second is, at turns, comedy, and then tragedy when one knows how Basquiat's story was to turn out in the end.

And I must write something about the unheralded Michael Wincott. He is an acting treasure, one of our best living and working no matter if he's playing a downtown, gay art impressario, a cuban writer forced to name names by Castro's kangaroo court, or a comic book psychopath in "The Crow." Wincott has that rare chameleon-like ability to totally disappear into whatever role he plays without calling any attention to himself; that's probably why you know his face, his distinctive voice, but not his name.

By the way, notice the walls of Basquiat's studio when this scene begins. I love the child-like city-scape painted around him, it's the kind of city Basquiat or Haring would have flourished and lived forever in creating their art on their own terms - if only the world was so perfect. It's a beautiful little touch that reeks of "you had to be there" accuracy of detail.

"I didn't know Tony Bennett painted!"