Blanket? Check. Snacks? Check. A live action film about one of the best artists from New York City? Check. The Summer on the Hudson showing of Basquiat (1996) at Pier 1 was a magically enlightening experience. Magical, because it was on a pier near Lincoln Center and the skyline of the city was breathtaking. When the sun went down, the inflatable movie screen lit up, illuminating the faces of the people around me. The movie itself was enlightening because I had never heard of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The live-action film shows the beginning of Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright) when he was living in a cardboard box and creating graffiti under the pseudonym SAMO. It moves quickly, showing how he was discovered in a drug house and catapulted into fame.
Mixed with a romantic sub-plot with Gina Cardinale (Claire Forlani), the movie shows how Basquiat goes from being a nobody to having his work discovered in the house of his drug dealer, to being a hot-ticket item in gallery openings and among prestigious art collectors. The film also touches on Basquiat’s brief sobriety and drug-cleanse. The most heart-warming and beautiful part of the film was the friendship between Andy Warhol, played by David Bowie, and Basquiat. The friendship blooms over the course of the movie, beginning with them meeting in a restaurant and ending with their collaboration show as best friends. When Warhol dies, Basquiat’s reaction is tear-inducing and heart-shattering as he ends his sobriety and turns back to drugs.
The overall experience of the movie, from the inflatable movie screen to sitting on a blanket in the park to seeing the skyline of the city, was great. I would recommend trying to get your hands on the movie and also attending the upcoming Summer on the Hudson shows this summer. The schedule of movies is posted on https://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2016/07/06/summer-on-the-hudson-pier-i-picture-show