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Jim Jarmusch Explains Why He Refuses To Watch Julian Schanbel's 'Basquiat'

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by Kevin Jagernauth
May 7, 2014 2:38 PM
8 Comments
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There are a few reasons why Julian Schnabel's 1996 biopic "Basquiat" is notable. Aside from being a solid film, it's the casting that really makes it sing, from the inspired choice of David Bowie to play Andy Warhol, to a number of ringers amongst the ensemble including Gary Oldman, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Hopper, Courtney Love, Parker Posey, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Walken and more. But at the center of it all is Jeffrey Wright, who gives a pretty blazing turn as the artist himself, in a role that put him on the map. So you might think that Jim Jarmusch, who cast the actor in his latest "Only Lovers Left Alive," might've seen the film. You'd be wrong.

The director has long been fixture of the New York City art and music scene, so you won't be surprised to learn that he knew Basquiat. However, he has some very personal reasons why, to this day, he's never watched Schnabel's film. "I refuse to see that film. I knew Jean-Michel and he was not friends with Julian. I like Julian very much, he’s a very generous guy, even if he is an egotistical character," he told THR. "And his films… 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is one of the masterworks of recent cinema. Once a year, he’ll ask me, 'So are you ever going to see Basquiat?' And I’d say, 'Never.' I refused to talk to Schnabel about Jean-Michel when he was making the film.  But Jean-Michel was not a fan of Schnabel as a person back then. And I would not betray him in that way. I’ve seen a few clips, though, and Jeffrey Wright is f---in’ amazing in it."

So, it seems like he's got some personal reasons, and if not beef with Schnabel, then a respectful disagreement. Looks like loyalty runs deep for Jarmusch. So with that trivia aside, if you want more on Basquiat, be sure to read this recent Vanity Fair piece about the artist's longtime supporters and collectors, Lenore and Herbert Schorr.

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8 Comments

  • Will Avery | May 9, 2014 5:16 AMReply

    "Julian Schanbel" - You shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a keyboard, should you, on account of your laziness and stupidity.

  • tyrannosaurus max | May 8, 2014 12:02 PMReply

    great post! Typo spotted: "than" in the first sentence of the final paragraph should be "then."

  • Gustavo | May 7, 2014 10:26 PMReply

    Jarmusch sounds like a jealous, uptight artiste...

  • Washington | May 8, 2014 1:10 AM

    You sound like someone with poor reading comprehension and critical thinking skills...

  • Slen | May 7, 2014 4:13 PMReply

    Total respect for Jim's honest response.

  • Pig Bodine | May 7, 2014 2:48 PMReply

    He "new" Basquiat, did he? Dudes, hire me as your proofreader. I'm a prince.

    The Gary Oldman character is clearly a Schnabel surrogate. The movie makes it seem like Basquiat looked up to him, was friends with him and ultimately rejected help from him.

  • rodie | May 7, 2014 2:45 PMReply

    So you have to be personal friends with someone in order to make a movie about them? Who cares if Basquiat didn't like Schnabel as a person. He's an artist and he made a good film and tribute to Basquiat! Jeez Jarmusch, let it go. Sounds like he's just bitter, he'd have rather made the film instead. Like, I was BETTER friends with Basquiat, so it should have been my story to tell. Whatev.

  • lee | May 9, 2014 9:59 AM

    don't know about that. Imagine for yourself someone you really dislike cashing in on your story after you died, discussing your life, creatively taking part ownership of your history. I would be mighty pissed, glad Jarmusch outed this, as for the bitter part, JJ's career's on a new high.

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