From The Film Stage:
The work, of course, remains front and center throughout. As Mapplethorpe pulled away from his relationship to Patti Smith, so his work began to focus more on homosexual and “risky” themes.Look at the Pictures is at its best when connecting the photographer’s double passions in life. The enchantment he holds for scenes of sexual experimentation / depravity (depending on what you’re into) strike a bold resemblance to the rituals of Catholicism with which he grew up. “Beauty and the Devil are the same thing,” he would famously say. In a remarkable coup, the directors even manage to get Mapplethorpe’s affable local priest on camera to talk about it.
From The Boston Herald:
You can’t get any more gay than the notorious, celebrated and intriguing Robert Mapplethorpe and Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s sensationally provocative documentary on the late photographer MAPPLETHORPE LOOK AT THE PICTURES is one of the hottest tickets at the festival, literally SRO. It airs on HBO April 4 and I doubt it will ever be seen in Russia. This dynamic duo have been making eye-opening documentaries for years, from INSIDE DEEP THROAT, THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE[BAKER] along with their long-running hit series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Ensconced at the Ritz-Carlton we spoke of how bankrupt, dangerous Manhattan in the 1970s has become a nearly mythical lost era, lovingly evoked for its creativity and sexual licentiousness, similar to what 1920s Paris represented for earlier generations. “People ask us, Why now with Robert Mapplethorpe?” Bailey remarked of the Catholic kid from Queens, NY, who sparked one of the biggest censorship cases in the nation’s history when a Cincinnati exhibit that included his sexually explicit S&M works went to a jury trial for obscenity. Mapplethorpe died at 42 in 1989 from AIDS and Bailey suggests that he’s still pulling the strings from beyond, even as the debate continues over artistic expression, pornography and federal funding for the arts. The documentary coincides with a first-ever double retrospective in Los Angeles this spring at the Getty and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the two museums which share his sizable archive. More from these two when the broadcast airs.