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Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

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1h 18m

Director Sara Driver

Starring Jean-Michel Basquiat, Michael Holman

Genre Documentary

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Exploring the pre-fame years of the celebrated American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and how New York City, its people, and tectonically shifting arts culture of the late 1970s and '80s shaped his vision.


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San Francisco Chronicle by

Driver keeps their tales engaging with great music and vintage clips of CBGB, Club 57, the Mudd Club and the crumbling Lower East Side.

Village Voice by Craig D. Lindsey

Boom makes the case that the scene Basquiat came from was more fascinating than Basquiat himself. Even though many of the artists, admirers, and friends interviewed for this doc praise him and his gonzo genius, several of them suggest that he strived to be more of a rock star than a punk artist.

The New York Times by Glenn Kenny

While, in many respects, it is conventional in form, alternating archival footage from the late 1970s and early ’80s with newly shot interviews, the movie has a momentum (aided by an exemplary soundtrack of songs from the era) and a rare interrogatory spirit.

The Hollywood Reporter by John DeFore

One of the most transporting depictions of the Downtown New York scene (in a field crowded with docs, memoirs and fictions — some by artists who weren't alive at the time), Sara Driver's Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat more than does justice to its acknowledged subject, partly by refusing to divorce him from his context.

Variety by Owen Gleiberman

Sara Driver, the director of “Boom for Real” (who was there at the time, as Jim Jarmusch’s early producer and romantic partner), creates an alluring and detailed portrait of how the downtown scene came together, springing up like weeds between the cracks of a broken New York, its poverty-row aesthetic infused with the energy of punk and the vivacity of hip-hop (before it was called that).

Los Angeles Times by Robert Abele

Basquiat's energetic brilliance is mourned as much as revered in "Boom for Real," which ends with his cannon shot into the money-mad, drug-fueled '80s. What lingers, though, is a heartfelt reminiscence for what's memorable about emergent talent, the spark that precipitates the well-fanned blaze.