In the movies, artists are generally bastards, nuts or addicts. Here are some of my favorites.
The Agony & the Ecstacy: Irving Stone boils down the Sistine Chapel with a liberal amount of artistic license. Good painting scenes. With Charlton Heston (ugh) as Mike B and Rex Harrison as Julius II.
Lust for Life: More Irving Stone. Kirk as Vincent, Tony Quinn as Gauguin, Vincent Minelli at the helm. Beautiful and nutty and the best Vincent biopic.
Bird: Clint Eastwood’s version of Charlie Parker’s life.Good but not as good as:
Round Midnight: Dexter Gordon plays Bird, Lester Young & Bud Powell all rolled into one. It will make you love jazz.
Moulin Rouge: The original: Toulouse-Lautrec and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Basquiat: Julian Schnabel directs this story of fame, drugs and demise. I liked Basquiat a lot more than the film but it’s still worth a gander.
Ed Wood: Proof that one of the most important things an artist needs is belief in himself.
Tucker: Automaker as artist. A sunny metaphor for Coppola’s battle with the Hollywood establishment
Amadeus: Nothing like the scene where Mozart dictates the Reqiuem to Salieri. I could watch this dozens of times. And I have.
Savage Messiah: I loved this movie in college. Ken Russell’s bio of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and his mad affair. Tortured, weird and romantic.
Pollack: Ed Harris’s tribute to Action Jackson but with a little too much drunkness and a little too little painting.
My Left Foot: Danny Day Lewis as Christy Brown, paralyzed poet and painter. Have been meaning to see it for 15 years. Will soon.
Shine: Pianist David Helfgott has a mean dad, a breakdown, and a lot of scenery to chew. Decent but overrated.
Hilary and Jackie: The lives of classical musician sisters, one wild, one straight. I enjoyed it but honestly don’t remember it that clearly.
Rivers and Tides: Simply the best movie I’ve ever seen about the creative process. Documents the work of Andy Goldsworthy the British sculptor. Still in some theatres. Avaialable on DVD in 9/04
Le Mystére Picasso: In 1956, Clouzot filmed Picasso painting on transparent canvases, revising the work as he goes, a chicken becomes a nude becomes a landscape, etc. Mind blowing.
Crumb: portrait of the great underground comix artist and illustrated journal keeper, intense and revealing. See it even if you think you don’t like him.
Wild Wheels: a tribute to art cars (covered with mirrors, grass, plastic fruit, etc) and the people who make them.
28th Instance of June 1914, 10:50 a.m. – McDermott & McGough are a pair of artists who live as if it were PreWWI, their clothes, their home, their plumbing, their manner and their photography. Beautiful and strangely compelling.
Edward Scissorhands: A fairy tale about the artist as outsider. By one of the most creative directors in modern cinema.
The Royal Tennenbaums: The story of a creative family and the least good of the great films of Wes Anderson.
The Moderns: Alan Rudolph’s story of artists in Paris in the 1920s is wildly surreal and romantic and has a wonderful soundtrack.
An American in Paris: A highly realistic story of artistic struggle. Gene Kelly, Minelli, and my fav: Oscar Levant.
Quartet: 4 stories, one of a pianist who studies for years to get a critic’s approval. Also by Maugham.
The Razor’s Edge: Bill Murray (of all people) was in the good version of this story of a WWI vet discovering himself as an artist and a spiritual being.. It was very inspiring to me when I first saw it two decades ago.
The Commitments: Slightly too raucous story of an Irish soul band but a good appreciation of appreciation.
The Hours: Virginia Woolf and all that.
New York Stories: The first part of the trilogy is by Scorcese with Nick Nolte as a larger than life painter who can only work when obsessed with a woman. Some beautiful moments.
The Horse’s Mouth: I loved this book as a kid — it made painting into the most heroic of acts. Alec Guiness plays Gulley, a screw up of a painter, in search of the perfect wall for his mural.