A film about an artist is inescapably an act of interpretation. Here is the artist’s life; now what does it mean? From Vincente Minelli’s Lust for Life, to Martin Scorsese’s Life Lessons, to Julian Schnabel’s biopics of graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, artist movies have tended to glorify self-destructiveness as a side effect of genius. In the past few years, a spate of Tortured-Artist movies-Pollock...

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About the Author

Rand Richards Cooper, one of Commonweal's film critics, is the author of two works of fiction, The Last To Go and Big as Life.