Auckland Film Society offerings

Julian Schnabel's bold and extravagant portrait of his doomed friend, painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, the 19-year-old homeless graffitist who took the 1980s New York art world by storm, launches the 2009 programme of the Auckland Film Society next month.

Schnabel, who has always said he is primarily an artist, attracted widespread acclaim in recent years for the brilliant film version of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly but Basquiat (1996) with its ultra-cool cast - including David Bowie as Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman and Courtney Love - was the film that put him on the map.

The March 9 screening is the first of 30 on a programme which includes four films by the Polish American filmmaker Lech Majewski (who, as it happens, was originally to have directed Basquiat, but abandoned the project). Majewski, one of the few filmmakers to be honoured with a mid-career retrospective by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is noted for a stylised approach that uses music and landscapes, both domestic and topographical. He

will be present at the March 16 screening of his 2004 film The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Other highlights of the busy programme include the very different but equally jawdropping environmentalist documentaries Darwin's Nightmare and Manufactured Landscapes; three programmes of short films by the prolific and esteemed French documentarian, Agnes Varda; two early films of Gus Van Sant, Mala Noche and Drugstore Cowboy; and four films made in the former East Germany.

The Film Society screenings, which take place each Monday at 6.30pm, are a must for movie buffs. The $165 ($140 concession) annual sub works out to $5.50 a film and members enjoy concession prices at many local cinemas and at the midwinter film festival.

- NZ Herald

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