da Bomb x5
October 3, 2012 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Five Full Films Featuring Graffiti

linked above are:

1983's WildStyle, in which "Legendary New York graffiti artist Lee Quinones plays the part of Zoro, the city's hottest and most elusive graffiti writer. The actual story of the movie concerns the tension between Zoro's passion for his art and his personal life, particularly his strained relationship with fellow artist Rose."

Also from 1983, Style Wars - "The film has an emphasis on graffiti, although bboying and rapping are covered to a lesser extent. The film was originally aired on PBS television in 1983, and was subsequently shown in several film festivals to much acclaim, including the Vancouver Film Festival. It also won the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival."

2002's Bomb The System is an independent drama featuring an original soundtrack by El-P. "Blest, a 19-year-old graffiti writer, has just graduated from high school. With no ambition toward mainstream goals of work and family, he spends his time bombing the city with graffiti messages until he and his crew become the most wanted bombers by the corrupt NYPD Vandal Squad."

From 2007, Alter Ego, described simply as "a worldwide documentary about graffiti writing".

Finally, 2008 gives us Beautiful Losers: "The film focuses on the careers and work of a collective group of artists who since the 1990s began a movement in the art world using D.I.Y. aesthetics from skateboarding, graffiti and underground music such as punk rock and hip-hop. The artists discussed and interviewed in the film include Thomas Campbell, Cheryl Dunn, Shepard Fairey, Harmony Korine, Geoff McFetridge, Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Mike Mills, Steven "Espo" Powers, Aaron Rose, Ed Templeton and Deanna Templeton. A series of interviews with these artists explains their reasoning behind their "do-it-yourself" style of street art. "
posted by mannequito (10 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best post of the month.
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:13 PM on October 3, 2012

Cool. I will check these out.

I feel compelled to mention as some kind of counterpoint 1985's Turk 182, which had graffiti as political speech that was somehow completely divorced from actual real graffiti as actual speech or art. It's like graffiti in some strange alternate universe.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:25 PM on October 3, 2012

See also: "Beat Street"
posted by ShutterBun at 12:31 AM on October 4, 2012

I was just adding tags for the movies and realized I missed a previously: Style Wars on the blue, April 2003.
posted by mannequito at 1:52 AM on October 4, 2012

Wild Style is a lot more than just a flick about graffiti. It was really the first movie about hip hop as a culture, featuring extended scenes of breaking, cutting/scratching, rapping, and featured actual members of the culture. Zoro, the main character, is played by an actual artist. All the rap groups were employed right off the street.

Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree comic appears to have just reached the moment in which Wild Style is starting to happen a couple installments ago. I'd keep an eye on that to get some back story. Or you could read "Yes Yes Y'all," which is an oral history of hip hop, through about the time that Def Jam/Russell Simmons/Run DMC come on the scene.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:57 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Beautiful Losers is my favorite documentary of all time and endlessly inspirational-after it ends I want to go MAKE SOMETHING and all my BS reasons for not doing so melt away.

If you're not familiar with the backstories for all of the artists already, you might be surprised by some super crazy sad parts in it, as well. It's by no means a bummer, but you might have a few tissues handy.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:02 AM on October 4, 2012

There's a documentary about Tempt One (a graffiti artist with ALS and the subject of this FPP) and the eyewriter.
posted by subtle-t at 8:18 AM on October 4, 2012

There's an excellent documentary by Bill Daniel about the hobos and drifters who have been making their marks on freight trains (and don't consider themselves graffiti artists) titled "who is bozo texino".

Also, though I haven't watched it yet, Vigilante Vigilante, a documentary about the folks who make it their personal mission to buff graffiti looks quite good.

Good post Mannequito!
posted by nikoniko at 10:38 AM on October 4, 2012

Awesome post! Already watched the first two. I was never really into the kind of old school flow you see in Wildstyle (maybe J5) but the film really brings it alive! I'd be curious to see how many of the people featured really did 'grow up out of grafitti, get a wife and start living the life'.
posted by Drexen at 1:23 PM on October 4, 2012

Awesome post! As a 20-or-so year vet in the graf game, I love it when people get interested and make or watch movies about things.

Also worth a watch is Infamy, linked here (part one on youtube, and I believe all the parts are on there). It's newer (2004 or so, I think?), and features just a few writers, but they represent a good scope of the modern graf spectrum. Worth it just for the interviews with Earsnot, the openly-gay, black, fighting, shoplifting, tagging head of IRAK and the man in charge of NYC's Rivington Club.
posted by broadway bill at 1:35 PM on October 4, 2012

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