Bacon’s Arena (2006)

Streaming on YouTube | imdb

Francis Bacon was one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. He also led a very interesting and tumultuous life, which was the focus of the dramatic bio pic Love is the Devil (worth a watch). You are familiar with his work, wether you know it or not, as it is referenced in popular culture regularly. He is best known for painting disturbing, distorted images of the human face and figure like his “screaming popes.” Bacon’s seated figures were sloppily brought to life by Lucio Fulci in A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (which is an excellent giallo, but Bacon must have despised it). This excellent TV movie is the best biography of the artist I’ve seen yet. The quality is not quite up to current standards, but don’t let that deter you. If you have an interest in counter culture on the dark side, this is mandatory viewing.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a documentary about $80 million in forged abstract expressionist art that was sold through a major NY art dealer. If you have little to no interest in art, then this will bore the hell out of you. I found it to be very well made, and engaging throughout. It is mostly one-on-one interviews, peppered with some high quality documentary photos and appropriate video / film footage. Oh yeah and there’s that one element that you’ll see in 99% of contemporary documentaries… the animation. There seems to be a rule that there MUST be at least one section featuring animation in every doc. It’s as if there’s a big scary enforcer that shows up in the editing process and says “I ain’t seen no cartoons in dis here picture yet” while showing the director his bloodstained baseball bat. I get why documentary makers feel it’s necessary, but it’s become a cliche. If you just have to do it, please do something really interesting like the animation in Gimmie Danger. Sorry, I had to get that out. Where was I? Ok, here’s why Made You Look is worth your time: you get to learn about rich and powerful people becoming victims of their own stupidity and greed. Enjoy the schadenfreude my friends.

Not Available on Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema, please consider supporting this site by donating any amount (even $1.00 is appreciated) via Venmo @vergeoflight / Cash App $vergeoflight / or Paypal at this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

McQueen (2018)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

Nearly ten years ago my partner Suzie dragged me to see Alexander McQueen’s exhibition at The Met in New York. I was not psyched to wait in line for something I wasn’t particularly interested in. Once we got into the show, my feelings quickly changed. I loved what I was seeing, especially the dark influences like Jack the Ripper and Joel-Peter Witkin. I walked out of museum an official Alexander McQueen fan. Suzie and I watched this documentary as soon as it cane out and absolutely loved it. This is obviously a must-see for fashion enthusiasts, and I would recommend this film to anyone interested in art as well. Before I saw that exhibition I didn’t understand the two worlds had such compelling areas of crossover.

Available on Blu-ray from Lion’s Gate.

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Kusama: Infinity (2018)

Streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu | imdb | trailer

Here we have a good overview of the career of influential Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. I thought this doc might be too fluffy as much of her work is bright and polka dot-strewn, but it does not shy away from the artists’ battle with mental illness and other dark corners of her life. Infinity also touches on the many lesser-known ways in which Kusama’s output has made an impact on the history of art. Recommended viewing for those interested in the creative struggle.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Goya’s Ghosts (2006)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Most people missed that the director behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest made a very good historical drama revolving around “the father of modern art” Francisco Goya. It stars Stellan Skarsgård, Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, and Randy “Cannibal Father Knows Best” Quaid. As I often say, it isn’t perfect. However Goya’s Ghosts is a solid choice if you’re looking for a movie off the beaten path.

Blu-ray available from Samuel Goldwyn Films.

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The Rape of Europa (2006)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

We all know Hitler was an asshole. Did you know that the cherry on top of his asshole behavior was stealing and destroying great works of art? It’s true. You can learn all about it in this excellent documentary. I honestly give The Rape of Europa my highest recommendation.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-qiang (2016)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Here’s a solid overview of one of the more high-profile Chinese visual artists. Guo-qiang is known mostly for his epic firework performances. The movie also covers the artist tackling a major project that challenges him on every level. Sky Ladder is an absorbing documentary that I wish had a slightly longer run time. You won’t hear me say that very often.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I saw an exhibition of Szukalski’s work at The Visionary Art Museum many years ago and became an instant fan. This documentary was a treat as I knew very little about the man. Yes, he worked for the Nazis, but I feel he redeemed himself. Even if you disagree with me, I feel this is an excellent movie worth watching. I give Struggle my highest recommendation.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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