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Shadowman Movie Review

Shadowman Movie

Image from Director Oren Jacoby’s documentary, ‘Shadowman.’
Photo Courtesy: Storyville Films and Motto Pictures

Title: Shadowman

Director: Oren Jacoby 

Genre: Documentary

Black and white footage opens the films, as it harmoniously leads us to the colourful scene of the eighties. ‘Shadowman’ depicts the tousled portrait of artist Richard Hambleton. His life demonstrated how public art had no boundaries in the way it could affect society.

Director Oren Jacoby intertwines the story of Banksy’s precursor with the tale of a City. The storytelling shows the way New York’s neighbourhoods morphed through the decades, how Uptown and Downtown underwent a metamorphosis in terms of reputation and society.

During the decade of rad, Richard Hambleton was a spectre in the night who painted hundreds of startling silhouettes on the walls of lower Manhattan and, along with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, sparked the street art movement. But he never attained the fame of his fellow artists, unlike them he abstained from the Andy Warhol social scene. Richard Hambleton was thus neglected by the art market, as drug addiction and homelessness took over.

The movie empathetically plunges the viewer into the chaotic life of a forgotten artist. It further builds expectations as we observe his comeback, when in 2009 Hambleton suddenly resurfaced, supported by two young art dealers working with Giorgio Armani.

This cinematic voyage down a rabbit hole is at times exhilarating, but there are also elements of predictability along the way. However that is part of the journey of life, contrarily to fiction there are moments of foreseeable happenings. Hence the documentary captures the mood of reality, both surprising and calculable. ‘Shadowman’ skilfully accentuates the upward and downward spiral of Hamilton’s Odyssey, accentuating his undaunted desire to paint.

Technical: B-

Story: B+

Overall: B

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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