The reviews are already glowing for Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey‘s Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures, which had its debut today at the Sundance Film Festival. Screen Daily has published their review tonight, remarking that to “‘look at the pictures’ is exactly what co-directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato encourage us to do, in this confrontational and illuminating film.”
According to Screen Daily:
Look At The Pictures squawks a furious senator, brandishing a wad of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs in his meaty fist. Eyes popping, outraged to the point of aneurysm, he provides persuasive support for the theory of writer and Drummer magazine editor Jack Fritscher, voiced later in the film, that the penis is the most terrifying thing in the world. And ‘look at the pictures’ is exactly what co-directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato encourage us to do, in this confrontational and illuminating film. Look at all of them, from the beauty of the flower still lives to the polished celeb portraiture to the eye-popping hard core S&M images.
This frank but accessible documentary couldn’t be more timely, coming as it does just before joint retrospective shows co-curated by the J Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art are set to open in March 2016. The resurgence of interest in and reappraisal of Mapplethorpe’s life and work which the shows will likely trigger should ensure both festival exposure and some theatrical interest. The in-your-face approach to the male appendage characterised by Mapplethorpe’s more personal work might limit the film’s television sales however.
The documentary uses footage of the two shows’ curators reverently appraising the BDSM-heavy X portfolio (they discuss composition, neatly sidestepping the elephants and bullwhips in the room) and footage of auctions for his notable works to establish his current status in the contemporary art market. Then we wind back to his early life, as an ambitious art student and the boyfriend of Patti Smith, to learn more about the self-created phenomenon that was Robert Mapplethorpe.
Read the rest here!
Don’t miss the HBO premiere of Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures April 4!