Sunday, December 9, 2018

Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Movie Name: Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
Year of Release: 2016
Director: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Genre: Documentary
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Directors/producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have made a name for themselves with a prolific output of TV shows, but have also gained accolades with their documentaries which have included "Party Monster" (which they later made a fictional film out of), "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" and "Inside Deep Throat". "Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures" is a thorough view of one of the most controversial artists of the 70s and 80s, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The documentary details his humble beginnings in New York, his academic experiences, all the way through his association and relationship with the iconic Patti Smith. The film also trails his relationship with Sam Waggstaff, and his progressive fame, ambition, and how that trickled across his personal relationships, both amorous and familial ones. The documentary also captures the reality of the art world in New York, both in the 70s and 80s, and how the queer movement, sexual liberation played a large role in Mapplethorpe's art (and how he, and his point of view, also played a role in bringing awareness to queer artists). It's a documentary that vividly portrays an ambitious and talented artist, but one that doesn't solely portray a single side to Mapplethorpe - in the end, it presents him as someone deeply humane, with flaws, longings and fears, just like everyone else. And it does so, while also showcasing the beautiful work of someone who has brought so much attention to Photography as an art form. An excellent documentary worth watching.