Boom for real: The laTe TeeNage Years of JeaN-michel BasquiaT (Sara Driver) purports to be about the late artist, but really it’s more about the late 70s art and music scenes he hung out in before becoming famous in the 80s. Director Driver, part of New York City’s indie film scene at the time, makes the most of her art-world connections, alternating between sentimental talking heads and archival footage/photos to show how Basquiat’s work bridged the nascent hip-hop scene uptown and nihilistic downtown art kids. We barely hear Basquiat’s voice, and Driver doesn’t establish a thesis up front so the film feels aimless as it spends an inordinate amount of time going deep into topics that have been thoroughly covered in other, more seminal, docs: Warhol’s Factory, the advent of graffiti, the birth of hip-hop, the rise of post-punk. When Basquiat’s career “blasts off” at the end, Driver gallingly cuts to a rocket taking off. Given she was there, Boom For Real is weirdly impersonal. It’s as generic a doc as they come. 79 min. NNN (Kevin Ritchie)
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s voice is strangely missing from Boom For Real.