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Movie Review: The Radiant Child (2010)

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Jean Michel Basquiat, The Radiant Child

Source: Wikipedia

Plot Summary (Taken from IMDB): Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions.

My Review: One of the best things about this documentary was how well its subject matter was presented. The director Tamra Davis did an excellent job combining her own personal interview footage of Jean-Michel Basquiat with interviews of those who knew and worked with him. In addition, images of Basquiat’s artwork were well shown because you also see what influenced it. For instance, you would see footage of the cut-out method used by the poet William S. Burroughs and then see that method in a colorful Basquiat painting.

Another good aspect about this documentary was how Langston Hughes’ poem “Genius Child” was used to sum up his life. The poem is used as an epigraph at the beginning of the film and then spoken aloud as an epitaph at the end.  For the first time viewers, it haunts them and makes them think more about who they are learning about.

Besides the use of the poem “Genius Child”, the way blues, jazz, and classical music was used in the film was poignant. It immerses the viewer in different moments in Basquiat’s life and puts the viewer in either Basquiat’s point-of-view or his peers point-of-view.  One example is when his work ethic is being described and you hear fast-paced jazz music. As a viewer, one can then imagine Basquiat painting  like crazy.

The only flaw in the film is that you don’t see if Basquiat influenced any of today’s artists. Given that Basquiat was a graffiti artist and then a painter during the emergence of hip-hop culture, he must have had some influence on hip-hop artists today. In fact, it would have been interesting to see if Basquiat influenced any of today’s artists in general. His work that focused on black history could have easily been an influence on today’s Afrofuturism culture.

Overall, this was a great documentary on a brilliant yet fragile artist. I recommend this to any art enthusiast and any black person who wants to see art they can relate to.



Written by Serena Zola

July 13, 2014 at 10:49 PM

Movie Review: Raw Spice- The Unofficial Story of The Making of The Spice Girls

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Raw Spice, Spice GirlsSummary: This film shows how the Spice Girls were formed in 1994 and the months leading up to their first performance in front of industry writers and producers.

My Review: One of the best things about this film is that it lives up to its title. The girls are never seen with their trademark looks, but you can catch glimpses of what would become each girl’s trademark personality. You also see them as performers in training as well as regular young women.

Another positive aspect of the film is that you slowly see the girls come together as a group. You see them trying to figure out what their vocal ranges are, learning to harmonize,  dance, and live together. In fact, the most candid parts of the film are when they are at their house, because you see them let loose a little more.

A downside of the film is that it only covers a year or so of The Spice Girls’ journey. Once they do make their debut in front of the music industry people, you are left wondering what happens afterwards. The film should have shown how they got signed to a record label and how they recorded their first album Spice.

Overall, the film was interesting to watch, but it could have been better. However, I do recommend this to any old and new Spice Girl fans.

Watch the film on Hulu here.


Written by Serena Zola

June 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM

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