Having made a modest impression with his first three features, Short Sharp Shock (1998), In July (2000) and Solino (2002), Hamburg-born Fatih Akin was feted as the bright young hope of German cinema after he won the Golden Bear at Berlin for Head-On (2004). This good impression was reinforced by the vibrant documentary, Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005), and The Edge of Heaven (2007), a second study of the immigrant experience that earned Akin the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes. However, British audiences can be forgiven for wondering what he's been doing for the last decade, as the comedies Soul Kitchen (2009) and Tschick (2016) failed to travel, the documentary Polluting Paradise (2012) was deemed a touch parochial and his Armenian Genocide saga, The Cut (2014), divided the critics despite completing the `Love, Death and the Devil' trilogy started by Head-On and The Edge of Heaven. 

Expectations were raised for Akin's latest outing, In the Fade, when Diane Kruger's Best Actress triumph at Cannes was followed by the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. But this highly emotive and often manipulative rumination on the extremist sentiments seething beneath Germany's superficial placidity seriously lacks the dramatic balance and stylistic nuance that had characterised Akin's earlier works.

Having married Kurd Numan Acar when he was in prison for drug dealing, Diane Kruger is proud of the way he has turned his life around since being released. He dotes on their six year-old son, Rafael Santana, and keeps him busy at his Hamburg office while Kruger enjoys a spa session with her pregnant friend, Samia Chancrin. When she comes to collect them, however, she finds the street cordoned off by the police and is appalled to discover that her husband and son have been blown to pieces in a bomb attack. 

As rain lashes down, Kruger waits with her parents and in-laws while inspector Henning Peker conducts a DNA test to identify the remains. He asks her to recall anything unusual when she dropped Santana off and she remembers seeing a blonde woman leave an unlocked bicycle outside Acar's office. The press speculate that she is Eastern European, as the police rule out a terrorist attack and consider the possibility that Acar's criminal past might have caught up with him. However, Kruger is certain that the bomber is a neo-Nazi who had targeted Acar because he acted as an adviser and translator to the migrant community.

Snorting coke obtained from lawyer Denis Moschitto, Kruger tries to cope with the funeral and the strain of having to deny in-laws Asim Demirel and Aysel Iscan permission to bury the remains in Turkey. She bridles when her mother-in-law blames her for not taking better care of her son and is indignant when she is busted for possessing heroin while Peker conducts an unexpected search of the house. He is convinced that Acar had retained his contacts with the underworld and that he was the victim of a revenge killing by Kurdish, Turkish or Albanian gangsters. But Kruger resents the implication that she was raising a family on drug money.

Still smarting, she orders disapproving mother Karin Neuhäuser to leave with stepfather Uwe Rohde when she accuses Acar of having led her astray (as she had dropped out of university to be with him). She also ushers Chancrin away, as her swollen belly is too keen a reminder of what she has lost. But, as she lies in the bath with blood gushing underwater from her slashed wrists, Kruger hears a phone message from Moschitto informing her that they have caught the culprits and she vows to fight for justice.  

In court, Kruger fights back her fury as married defendants Hanna Hilsdorf and Ulrich Friedrich Brandhoff kiss in the dock. She also refuses to budge when defence lawyer Johannes Krisch asks judge Hartmut Loth to expel her from the court, as she is likely to use the evidence she hears as co-plaintiff to colour her testimony as a witness. Loth rejects the demand, but Kruger takes an instant dislike to the abrasive Krisch (whose resistibility is clumsily emphasised by an angry scab on his balding pate). Moschitto warns Kruger that some of the medical evidence will be brutal, but she insists on listening to share the suffering of her loved ones. However, she lurches at Hilsdorf when the description of the damage inflicted upon Santana by the nail bomb makes her lose her cool. 

Kruger is warned to behave and is touched when Brandhoff's father, Ulrich Tukur, offers his condolences from the witness stand. In revealing that he had found large amounts of fertiliser and nails in his son's garage, Tukur laments that Brandhoff reveres Adolf Hitler and wishes he had acted sooner in turning him in. However, Krisch establishes that the key to the garage could have been found under its usual stone by a fourth party and forces Peker to admit that a set of untraced fingerprints found at the scene could belong to the actual perpetrator of the crime. 

Moschitto reassures Kruger that Hilsdorf and Brandhoff will not wriggle free and, when Greek witness Yannis Economides claims that they were guests at his hotel on the day of the bombing, Moschitto produces a photograph showing Economides at a rally for the far-right Golden Dawn party and website link whose likers included the accused. When Kruger testifies, however, Krisch uses her possession and Acar's past record to discredit her and, when Moschitto refuses to allow Kruger to be drug tested, he concludes that she must have been under the influence when she thought she saw a woman who was several hundred miles away on holiday. 

Infuriated by Krisch's antics, Moschitto gives an impassioned speech reminding the bench that Kruger had been completely compos mentis on the day of the explosion. As applause ripples around the court, Krisch grimaces. But he has created enough doubt for Loth to acquit Hilsdorf and Brandhoff, even though the court recognises their probably guilt. Stunned, Kruger has some red added to the samurai tattoo on her side and flies out to Greece to try and prove that Economides had perjured himself to protect fellow fascists from conviction. 

Narrowly escaping his clutches at the hotel, Kruger follows Economides to a remote spot overlooking the sea, where Hilsdorf and Brandhoff are staying in a camper van. She buys fertiliser and nails from a garden centre and uses Santana's favourite remote control car to build a bomb in a saucepan. The next day, she places the device under the vehicle and waits in some bushes to activate it. But she has second thoughts when she sees a bird perching on the side mirror and returns to her villa to watch phone footage of happier times with her family. When Moschitto calls to urge her to lodge an appeal, however, Kruger's faith in justice gives out and she straps a backpack to her chest and bursts into the camper when the occupants return from a jog. 

As the camera cranes away from the flames raging in an adjoining tree, a caption informs us that the National Socialist Underground carried out several bombings and shot a policewoman and nine people from migrant backgrounds between 2002-07. Their sole motive was that their targets were non-German. Yet, despite this dismaying revelation, Akin and lawyer co-scenarist Hark Bohm fail to generate any sense of co-ordinated conspiracy. Instead, they contrive the collusion between the suspects and a mysterious Greek and exploit the old gambit of making the opposition counsel as Gestapoesquely hissable as possible to make the miscarriage of justice seem all the more deplorable, as it has been brought about by a rogue who is prepared to play dirty against an honourable opponent. 

Such melodramatics might work in a John Grisham adaptation, but they ring hollow when Akin is striving so hard to score political points. His inability to suggest any complacency among the silent majority is also enervating, as he keeps the action entirely in the bubble that forms around Kruger in the aftermath of the atrocity. Family and friends are reduced to ciphers who fail to provide the necessary support, while Hilsdorf and Brandhoff remain shadowy figures whose reprehensible views are never exposed as they aren't called upon to testify. Moreover, the absence of any media reaction outside a couple of iPhone headlines reinforces the sense of phoniness that envelopes the closing sequences, as Kruger makes an effective bomb with effortless ease without any interference from the supposedly well-organised NSU and its Pan-European allies.

Despite the sketchiness of the blissful domestic background, Akin and Kruger (who is acting in German for the first time) harrowingly convey the enormity of her loss. But they are less successful in suggesting the inner workings that prompt her to wreak revenge. For much of the time, Kruger maintains a mask of benumbed impassivity that makes it difficult to read her emotions. But the plot points involving her drug use and the courtroom lash-out at Hilsdorf feel as forced as her over-stylised suicide bid and tip proceedings towards the soap operatic. Rainer Klausemann's showy slate grey camerawork proves equally problematic with its surfeit of split and rack focus shots, as it forever reminds the viewer of the director's staging of action that strains throughout for a naturalism that is further undermined by Andrew Bird's self-conscious editing, Josh Homme's intrusively emphatic score and Tamo Kunz interiors whose unfeasibly chic plushness typifies the film's ruinous disregard for plausibility.

Although best known for being married to Sting, actress-cum-activist Trudie Styler has an impressive CV as a film producer. In addition to Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000), she has also worked on such feted indies as Dito Montiel's A Guide to Recognising Your Saints (2006) and Duncan Jones's Moon (2009). But, in making her solo directorial debut with Freak Show - after The Sweatbox, a 2002 documentary about the making of Disney's The Emperor's New Groove (2000), which she had co-directed with John-Paul Davidson went unreleased - Styler demonstrates a surprising lack of artistic personality and political sensitivity in adapting James St James's lauded Young Adult novel.

In voiceover, Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) invokes the spirit of Bette Davis as he invites us to `buckle up' while he takes us on a little ride he calls his life. Having doted on his mother, Mauvine (Bette Midler), the young Billy (Eddie Schweighardt) had developed a distinctive sense of style under her tutelage. However, when she mysteriously goes away, Billy is sent to live with his estranged father, William (Larry Pine), in the sprawling mansion that is maintained by Florence the housekeeper (Celia Weston). She tolerates the flamboyant costumes he dons when they are alone, but warns that the Adam Ant ensemble he selects for his first day at Grant Academy is not going to go down well with kids in the Deep South. 

Billy hardly helps his cause with his opening gambit, `I just moved here from Darien, Connecticut, the hometown of Chloë Sevigny.' But, while his outrageous dress sense and fey mannerisms alienate jocks and mean girls alike, the garrulous wallflower he nicknames Blah Blah Blah (AnnaSophia Robb) takes a shine to him and tips him off that Bib Oberman (Walden Hudson) was in a boy band, Lynette (Abigail Breslin) will do anything to become homecoming queen, Sesame (Charlotte Ubben) is dating the entire basketball team, Tiffany (Willa Fitzgerald) is ultra-Christian, Bo Bo (Daniel Bellamy) is a boneheaded jock, Bernard (Christopher Dylan White) is to be ignored at all times and that Flip (Ian Nelson) is the football star who got the whole town talking with an amazing somersaulting touchdown. 

Naturally, Billy falls in love at first sight and is delighted when Flip chats at his locker about the fact they are both reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. But Billy has no intention of making friends with Lynette, Sesame and Tiffany and disses them when they ask him for fashion advice after English class. As a consequence, he gets picked on in biology lessons and has to resort to fencing masks, ski goggles and a motorcycle helmet to protect himself from spitballs in the corridors. However, he is beaten into a coma when turns up in a bridal dress with long veil and horror red eye make-up and is delighted to wake-up in hospital to find Flip waiting for him along with his father and Florence. Indeed, he is so smitten that he feigns a relapse to prevent Flip from going to football practice and Dr Vickers (Mickey Sumner) rushes to his bedside to check up on him. 

Florence is immune to Flip's charm, but William regards him as the son he never had and Flip tells Billy that he doesn't know he's born, as his father forced him into playing football and once burned his comic-book collection. Indeed, he would kill him if he knew his secret ambition was to become an artist and that he once skipped a football game to go to an exhibition in New York. But Billy knows William is a macho buffoon who drove Muv to drink and he cringes when he roars up in a red sports car to invite Flip on a fishing trip. He feels much better, however, when Flip joins him in a recreation of John Travolta and Uma Thurman's dance in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) and fools around with him in the expansive grounds to the strains of Plastic Bertrand's `Ca Plane Pour Moi'.

While sketching Billy in a Statue of Liberty pose, Flip asks him to tone down the fabulousness when he returns to school. As he will do anything that Flip asks, Billy agrees and is given a hero's welcome, as Principal Onnigan (Michael Park) has expelled the bullies and introduced a zero tolerance policy where homophobia is concerned. Amused more than touched, Billy acknowledges the cheers and holds court in the canteen in a laboured pastiche of Leonardo Da Vinci's `The Last Supper'. But Flip reminds him to dial down the pizzazz, even though he likes the aquatic outfit in which Billy is cavorting in front of a bubble machine when he calls round that night. He tries to explain why they are friends in heteronormative mumblespeak and offers Billy his favourite teddy bear. But he winds up sleeping it off on the sofa after he gets drunk on the booze that Billy downs like pop.

Having wowed his English teacher by dressing as Zelda Fitzgerald for a book report, Billy falls foul of Coach Carter (John McEnroe) during a gym class when he gets an erection watching Bo Bo shin up a rope. Flip pleads with him to behave more responsibly and spurns his concern after he gets into a fight with Bernard on his behalf. Sensing trouble in paradise, Lynette, Tiffany and Sesame (whose father has bought her a boob job to help entice Flip) plot his downfall. However, the unexpected reappearance of Mauvene from rehab means that he has more to worry about than his reputation at school, as he not only sees her drunkenly drape herself over Flip, but he also overhears her demanding child support from William because she has done her duty in giving him the son he always craved. 

William is baffled how to connect with Billy and Florence declares that they have more in common than liking the crusts cut off their sandwiches. But he is embarrassed that Billy has announced his intention to run for homecoming queen during an interview with TV reporter, Felicia (Laverne Cox). As she asks Billy how he wants to be identified, he suggests `gender obliterator'. But Bernard calls him a `freak' and he is happy to reclaim the word in representing everyone marginalised by their prejudiced peers. Flip disowns him and Bernard makes a clumsy pass at him in the washroom. But they ever-loyal Blah Blah Blah (whom he discovers is really called Mary Jane) tells him that he is the King of the Shadow People, the average kids who drift through life with no one noticing them. They back his campaign and even help him blackmail Bib into supporting him by threatening to reveal his boy band past. 

Having split up with Lynette, Bo Bo is also rooting for Billy and Flip calms down enough to wish him luck. But, while Billy steals Lynette's thunder by gazumping her float by standing on a giant high-heeled shoe at the big match pre-show, the afternoon ends badly for Flip, as he damages his shoulder so badly that his sporting days are over. He manages to give Billy a thumbs up from the stretcher carrying him off the field, but Billy knows he will be known as Mark and not Flip from thenceforth. There's no sign of him, as Bo Bo takes all the plaudits at the ceremony to acclaim the homecoming queen and Billy stares at himself in the dressing-room mirror as he gathers his thoughts. 

On the stage, Lynette reminds the electorate that a queen should be a girl and that anything other than her victory will make the school the laughing stock of the state. But, rather than shoot down her `make America great again' rhetoric, Billy appears in a sober suit and appeals to everyone to recognise that they are all freaks and should vote for him out of respect for whatever it is that makes them stand out from the pack. As Sesame and Tiffany remain rooted to their chairs, the rest of the assembled leap to their feet and cheer to the rafters. Yet, when they cast their votes by smartphone, the students conform to type and award the crown to Lynette. Sesame orders Billy off the stage, but Tiffany commends him on his courage and he's overcome to see William waiting for him at the back of the hall to congratulate him on his campaign and to reassure him that he accepts him completely for who he is. As the film ends, Flip confides that he deliberately took the tackle in the game in order to break his father's hold over him and Billy strolls into school wearing a dress and beret with his friends acknowledging him and no one else seeming to regard him as anything out of the ordinary. 

This slo-mo finale sums up everything that is right and wrong with this well-meaning, but patronising picture. Styler wants to send out a positive message about sexual acceptance and freedom of expression, but Billy's glib assertion that everyone is a freak simply fails to convince in relation to a nation that voted Donald Trump into the White House. There's a nodding recognition of this in the fact that the audience acclamation fails to reflect the final result. But Styler and writers Beth Rigazio and Patrick J. Clifton succeed only in creating a Dixie Neverland that bears little resemblance to the sad reality. 

Since making a fine impression made as the young Alan Turing in Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game (2014), Alex Lawther has played variations on the same theme in Andrew Steggall's Departure (2016), Simon Curtis's Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017), this creaky rite of passage and even in Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson's Ghost Stories. Thus, for all its commitment and finesse, his `I gotta be me' performance seems overly familiar and it would be good to see him attempt something completely different next time round. Given his resemblance to a young Stan Laurel, someone should surely usher him into a biopic about the aspiring comic's journey from Ulverston to Hollywood. 

Lawther's capably supported by Ian Nelson, Abigail Breslin and AnnaSophia Robb. But they are largely required to play cookie-cutter caricatures that say more about the enduring legacy of John Hughes's brand of teenpic than about contemporary youth and the attitudes they have inherited from their parents. Their efficacy is mirrored by Dante Spinotti's glassy widescreen photography and Franckie Diago's production design. But nothing matches the wit and whimsy of the costumes fashioned by Colleen Atwood and Sarah Laux, which deserve better than this spirited, but slight confection, which leaves one wondering how it might have turned out in the hands of a bolder, bolshier director.

There has been a vogue for re:found footage features since the BFI sponsored Penny Woolcock's From the Sea to the Land Beyond (2012). Now, Paul Wright follows Kim Longinotto (Love Is All, 2014) and Benedikt Erlingsson (The Show of Shows, 2015) into the vaults at the National Archive for Arcadia, a paean to the bucolic beauties of the British landscape that is also shrewd enough to stray away from the Green and Pleasant Land to examine the Dark Satanic aspects of our island home. Counterpointed by a score composed by Portishead's Adrian Utley and Goldfrapp's Will Gregory, the blend of dramatic and documentary clips is often exhilarating. But it sometimes feels a tad self-conscious in its bid to provide a stylistic and thematic link to Wright's laudable debut. For Those in Peril (2013).

In the first tranche of extracts, Wright and editor Michael Aaglund stick to the rubric established by the British Documentary Movement of focusing on churches and cottages, farmhands toiling in the fields and children revelling in the wide open spaces. The picture postcard views induce a shiver of nostalgic wistfulness for lost places and mores before a caption marked `Amnesia' presages images of sheep dipping, maypole dancing, water divining and the crowing the May Queen (who, in this clip from 1944's Springtime in an English Village, just happens to be black). 

Moving `Into the Wild', we see our first colour shots in heading into the mountains and teeter across a bridge spanning a stretch of rocky coast. As a policeman stands guard over Stonehenge, snippets of early adaptations of Alice in Wonderland take us underground in pursuit of the White Rabbit before we resurface in the company of some nudists, playing games or communing with nature. There's an ethereality about this collage that evokes the national mythology that is further celebrated in `Folk'. 

Some Scottish women sing a milling frolic in Gaelic, as they beat a length of cloth on a table top to the rhythm of the tune. Scenes of Morris Dancing, street games and the re-enactment of superstitious practices tumble in on each other, alongside a delightful scene of four men dancing in the middle of the road in an unnamed Kent village. Fire plays a pivotal part in many of these rituals, several of which have a violent subtext. Yet, we next discover `Utopia', as we are treated to views of unspoilt countryside, as well as the Cerne Abbas Giant and a white horse carved into the earth. Children charge through the woods and skid down slopes, as they get up to the kind of mischief that no longer appeals in the video age. On the soundtrack, a man calls for a greater humility to restore humanity's custodial bond with the soil before a trippy segment attempts to demonstrate links between traditional dances, hippy freakouts and trance raves. 

The eviction scene from Kevin Brownlow's Winstanley (1975) anticipates `The Turning', as common land was fenced off and the idyll was divided into parcels of private property. We see overhead shots of majestic country manors that contrast with the humbler dwellings of the rustic residents. Trees are cleared and mechanised vehicles roll into the fields, as helicopters buzz overhead spraying the crops with chemicals. Quarry explosions scar the landscape, while trees burn and huntsmen gallop in pursuit of a fox to leave `Blood in the Soil'. A man in a top hat explains that man has a right to hunt wild animals, as footage of a shooting party is cross-cut with scenes of a pub punch-up. We are also shown footage of people riding pigs and ostriches and attempting to tame bears and wild cats before we find ourselves `In a Dark Wood'.

Shadowy figures prowl in the night, as a small boy falls into a slurry pit and a search party scours the woods by torchlight. Images of people working and partying are juxtaposed with shots emphasising the class divide. An extended sequence showcases the fireballs of Stonehaven before a top shot of a naked woman curled foetally in a hole in the ground takes us into `Winter Solstice'. Scenes of snowy struggle follow before we join a pagan gathering on wind-blasted cliff edge. A rare glimpse of industrial sprawl follows, although we are taken back into the countryside by a single-decker bus winding its way along deserted roads. But some expanses of greenery were turned into new towns and housing estates and the character of the country seemed to change as a result, even though old traditions like cheese rolling remained. Industrial farming methods were introduced that required fewer workers and communities were forced to fight to preserve lifestyles that were being ripped away from them. A man in a vox pop declares that he wouldn't mind if wildlife was wiped out in the name of progress, while a middle-aged woman who still brushes the stuffed corpse of her beloved pet dog is somewhat smarmily held up to ridicule. 

Teenagers sniff glue in the shadow of a flyover, as Wright drives home to notion that the dream is over. As a consequence, we are cast into `Oblivion', as house owners ready their property in the event of an attack and images of nuclear drills are interwoven with news clips of street disturbances, as people begin to drift apart and look after themselves rather than their neighbours. A male voice hisses, `The End of Everything', and a shot of the sun being eclipsed gives way to the footage of simple lifeforms that had opened proceedings. As we see shoots bursting through soil and paving stones alike and the dead rise from their graves. a woman whispers about everything being connected and the past being gone, while the future remains unwritten.

Quite what this is supposed to signify is left open to interpretation, but there's no denying that this is a mesmeric enterprise whose lyricism has a cutting edge. As with many jaunts in the country, there's a tendency to ramble and it's often tempting to follow the signposts, even when they lead into such unsettling territory as Don Levy's Herostratus (1967), Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973), David Gladwell's Requiem for a Village (1976) and Chris Newby's Anchoress (1993). But Wright refuses to allow the audience to wallow or view through rose-tinted spectacles, as he highlights the suspicions and prejudices on which our culture is based. Yet it's noticeable that he resists coming totally up to date and, as a result, he avoids confronting the realities of the post-Thatcherite era that he castigates with unflinching fury. 

With its release timed to coincide with the Summer Solstice, this audacious archival repurposing is destined for cultdom. Combining haunting choral passages with snatches of strings and electronica, Ultley and Gregory's score is also likely to find its adherents. But the secret to watching this sensory challenge lies in allowing the audiovisuals to transport you, as you impose your own emotion and meaning.

Film-makers have been fascinated by iconoclastic artist Jean-Michel Basquiat since he burst on to the New York art scene in the late 1970s. Edo Bertoglio charted his rise in Downtown 81 (which was released after much delay in 2001), while Julian Schnabel's biopic, Basquiat (1999), and Tamra Davis's documentary, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010). have since sought to examine his personality and sources of inspiration. Now, Sara Driver returns to the Lower East Side for Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a documentary of deliberately limited scope that draws on her own memories of the period when she and longtime partner Jim Jarmusch were also feeding off the energy generated by punk to make their own mark.

Over shots of rundown streets, President Gerald Ford gives his reasons for not bailing out the New York authorities facing bankruptcy in 1975. Cultural critic Carlo McCormick, writer Luc Sante, performance artist Jennifer Jazz
artist James Nares and collector Mary-Ann Monforton recall what a surreal place the Big Apple was in this period and credit the emergence of punk with giving the cultural scene a kick start. However, curator Diego Cortez also notes the contribution made by the city's various ethnic enclaves in declaring that the dominance of the white male ended during this period and one of those to fill the void was Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Film artist Coleen Fitzgibbon remembers him being a ubiquitous presence at gallery openings and clubs like CBGB and the Mudd Club, while Jim Jarmusch suggests he was shy and skittish in reminding the off-screen Driver about the time when Basquiat presented her with a stolen flower in the street. Graffiti partner Al Diaz remembers them coining the `SAMO' tag to criticise the `same old' problems facing the city and cultural critic Raymond Foye avers that it stood out from the other wall writing being produced at the time. Indeed, as Fred Brathwaite (aka tagger-cum-rapper Fab Five Freddy) mentions, it was the subject of a Village Voice article and artist Kenny Scharf regrets that Basquiat decided to take sole ownership of the handle and Diaz fell by the wayside. 

The 16 year-old Basquiat was living rough in places like the Earle and Albert Hotels, yet kept popping up at events across SoHo, as he strove to get noticed and be taken seriously. Unfortunately, despite the artistry of taggers like Lee Quiñones (who specialised in decorating subway carriages), many felt graffiti was a blight and it wasn't regarded as a legitimate artform. Together with Brathwaite, Quiñones created an hommage to Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans that they considered to be a moving work of art, despite the fact that they were being accused of being vandals whose daubs were linked to the crime wave sweeping New York by a mainstream media that also regarded break dancing and the emerging DJ culture with equal scorn. 

Diaz and artist Sur Rodney state that Basquiat wasn't really part of the graffiti scene, as he was a homeless artist who had nowhere else to express himself. Monforton let him crash on her floor in the largely Puerto Rican neighbourhood where Jorge Brandon pioneered Nuyorican poetry. She had a huge crush on the charismatic teenager and musician Felice Rosser and embryologist Alexis Adler reminisce about him intervening when they were challenged by some Italian thugs outside a club. However, while he often crashed at Rosser's place with Jazz, they were competing for the same sofa and tensions arising from clashing personalities and Basquiat's habit of playing loud industrial music on his boom box led to a temporary split, which was only healed when he decorated Adler's gold lamé coat. 

Eventually, Basquiat moved into Adler's apartment and began creating art on the walls and floors. Among his best-known creations from this period was the `grape jelly' refrigerator door and Sante recalls him developing into a promising writer whose style was like a poetic variation on crime pulp and the chopped-up prose of William Burroughs. Cortez is perhaps less convinced of Basquiat's authorial genius, but accepts it had an immediacy born out of the need to make an immediate impression with a tag on a wall or the side of a train. Often working late at night and in fear of being arrested, Quiñones agrees that they were marginalised until the likes of Keith Haring came to be feted and he scored his own triumph with the 1978 Howard the Duck wall that bore the immortal message, `Graffiti is a art and if art is a crime, let god forgive all.'

Inspired by this DIY approach, Fitzgibbon co-founded Collaborative Projects Incorporated (CoLab) to draw attention to the young artists who were being ignored by the traditional galleries. Basquiat tapped into this in his determination to become famous and performance artist Michael Hoffman remembers him crashing a Canal Street party celebrating the graffiti work of the Fabulous Five and outing himself as SAMO to steal everyone's thunder. He was interviewed at this event, but Driver opts not to use his voice at any time during the film, as she seeks to present Basquiat as a spectral presence haunting different aspects of cultural life and taking what he needed to fashion his own style. 

As a result of the Canal Zone meeting, Hoffman and Basquiat formed a band called Test Pattern, which later took the name, Gray. Despite doing much to introduce white punk kids to hip hop with the Beyond Words exhibition at the Mudd Club, Brathwaite also taught Basquiat about be-bop through his connection with legendary jazz drummer, Max Roach. Cable TV host Glenn O'Brien recalls seeing them play and Hoffman tells a story that sums up Basquiat's genius for stealing the limelight, as he saw the Constructivist set that Hoffman and the other band members had devised and produced a painted packing case that allowed him to appear in the centre of the stage and become the focus of the display. 

The two hippest venues for upcoming bands were Club 57 and the Mudd Club. Scharf suggests that Basquiat looked down his nose at their antics at Club 57 and felt more at home at the Mudd Club, where everyone set out to be achingly hip. However, as McCormick points out, while people took mushrooms at Club 57, they used heroin at the Mudd Club and the scene became synonymous with the drug trade. Various voices admit to using and suggest substances were the only way to cope with the hectic lifestyle. Others claim they were part of an artistic rite of passage in order to acquire a Burroughsesque cool. But Quiñones remains baffled why his contemporaries needed to escape when they should have remained clear-headed in order to experience the amazing things happening around them. 

Seeking outlets for his creativity, Basquiat persuaded fashion designer Patricia Field to let him paint on the sweat shirts she was selling at her store and these became cult `Man Made' items, even though Scharf concedes he found them a little tacky. Field hosted Basquiat's first exhibition of found objects, only for most of them to be thrown away when a friend who was looking after them was evicted from his flat. He also sold postcards at Rocks in Your Head, as did Haring and Scarf, who were experimenting with colour xerography to create collages. This chimed in with the vogue for posters, flyers and fanzines and there was great excitement when Basquiat sold a postcard to Andy Warhol. 

Having featured in an O'Brien article in High Times, Basquiat told an excited Brathwaite that this would be the first of many and he was struck by his confidence in his star. But Quiñones wonders if he knew his time would be limited and, consequently, seemed more driven and worked more quickly than anyone else. He would allow his graffiti work to drip because the spontaneity mattered more than the perfection and he didn't seem to care if people questioned the quality of his often naive drawings because it was the act of creation that counted not the end result. 

Writer Bud Kliment recalls how Basquiat abandoned the collage style quite quickly and began combining figurative sketches with texts. Jarmusch and Adler describe how he was a magpie, who would take images and ideas and incorporate them into his art and, in the process, make them his own and give them new meaning. Cortez was among the first to recognise the potential of these pieces and introduced Basquiat to curator Henry Geldzahler, who was a driving force in the new art wave that culminated in the Times Square Show, which opened in a disused massage parlour on 1 June 1980. During its run, Charlie Ahearn starred Quiñones in his film, Wild Style (1983), while Basquiat caught the eye of the critic from Art in America with a painting he produced in a hurry on one of the walls. 

Keen to build on this success, Cortez curated New York/New Wave at PS1 the following year and Basquait's reputation seemed sealed when Geldzahler bought his first full-size painting for $500 and hung it on the wall of his apartment and declared him to be the best American artist since Robert Rauschenberg. As a closing caption reveals, he would only live for another seven years before succumbing to heroin at the age of 27. Rosser reckons Basquiat merits his place among the masters and claims him as an African-American role model for showing what could be done with a little determination and belief. Jarmusch is simply glad to have known him, as the film ends with a corny image of a rocket blasting off into the stratosphere. 

Yet, at no point does Driver or any of her contributors provide any critical assessment of Basquiat's work. Furthermore, despite Hoffman labelling him `an investigator', nobody considers the theoretical side to his work or the sources of his inspiration. Indeed, by avowedly ignoring Basquiat's childhood and adulthood, Driver presents him as a sort of mythical figure whose talent materialised from nowhere like a form of immaculate conception. Her decision to silence his voice reaffirms this hagiographised ethereality, as she prefers to let his work speak for itself - when it can get a word in edgeways between the swooning chorus of approval that editor Adam Kurnitz slots in between the evocative archive stills and home-movie clips. 

Shortly after Basquiat's death, critic Robert Hughes dubbed him the Thomas Chatterton of Neo-Expressionism in a New Republic article entitled `Requiem for a Featherweight' that dismissed him as `a small, untrained talent caught in the buzz saw of artworld promotion, absurdly overrated by dealers, collectors, and, no doubt to their future embarrassment, by critics'. Driver does little to contradict that contention and it's noticeable that no independent critics appear in the picture. 

In this regard, this makes her study the perfect companion piece to James Crump's Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco, which also spent as much time wallowing in its subject's milieu as it did providing an objective analysis of his talent and the appealing mix of solemnity and irreverence that underpinned it. Given her personal connection to Basquiat, it's understandable that Driver would want to celebrate the multidisciplinary achievement of a friend who was taken far too soon. But, by preaching to the choir, she does too little to accommodate newcomers or convert those yet to be convinced by Basquiat's genius.

Italian documentarist Andreas Pichler had explored a range of topics during his 20-year career. Having considered call centres in Call Me Babylon (2003) liberation theology in The Way of a Warrior (2008) and population decline in The Venice Syndrome (2012), he turns his attention to the realities underlying the diary industry in The Milk System, which is showing in London under the auspices of Dochouse. 

Raised in South Tyrol, Pichler is familiar with cattle and the production of milk. But the recent Chinese milk boom has transformed the global industry and Pichler sets out to examine the impact this increased demand will have on consumers, animals and the environment. He begins on Peder Mouritsen's farm in Nørre Nebel, which supplies the Danish company, Arla, which has expanded enormously in recent years and CEO Peder Tuborgh claims that it now reacts to changes in the international market rather than simply supplying domestic consumers. Margret and Martin Geiger from Donzdorf in Southern Germany have had to react to the new conditions and now rely on machines to milk their cows and clean the sheds where they spend most of their time, as the use of pasture declines. 

Aart Jan van Triest, the CMO of the Dutch firm FrieslandCampina, compares its various plants to oil refineries, as they turn milk into a growing range of products, from baby formula to senior supplements, that are tailored to customers around the world. If diversification is essential to the bigger players, specialisation is key to the likes of Alexander Agethle, an organic farmer from Mals in Italy, whose family concern is run on ecological lines to restrict sales of its cheeses to outlets within a 200km radius. But, even on ethical farms, cows are kept pregnant to guarantee their yields and one farmer seen inseminating his herd admits that animals whose output falls are doomed to be `dispatched'. Mouritsen explains that bull calves are more trouble than they are worth, as they don't produce milk and simply hoover up feed before they can be sold for dwindling prices to corporations that fatten them up for meat. 

Pichler is dismayed by the notion that animals are being purpose bred and Mauritsen has no qualms in revealing that he has striven to develop cows that remain productive for five rather than three years to make up for the fact that they don't earn their keep during their first two years, when they can't be milked. He also shrugs when he concedes that many creatures are slaughtered after a fortnight, as he runs a business not a welfare charity. At a breeding fair in Cremona, Pichler learns that scientists are close to being able to ensure that cows avoid producing bulls, while academic Johannes Isselstein informs him that cows are remarkable beasts, as they can turn something useless like grass into something precious like milk. However, in order to increase yields, they need dietary supplements like the soya that are grown in the `shadow fodder fields' that have caused thousands of acres of rainforest to be lost in South America. 

It bothers Pichler that foodstuffs that could be used to alleviate famine are being fed to cattle to increase their productivity. He also learns from Isselstein that the dispersal of slurry has a deleterious effect on the environment and also creates chemicals that can potentially harm the human body. By contrast, Agethle has cut volume to increase the quality of his milk and he also refines the manure into compost that can be sold locally without any risk of overburdening the land.

At the World Dairy Summit in Rotterdam, Pichler meets with Nico van Belzen, the director general of the International Dairy Federation, who insists that dairy products are the solution to global nutritional deficiencies. Reps on various stalls at the event concur and stress the associated health benefits. However, these are challenged by Walter Willett from the Harvard School of Public Health, who connects excessive milk consumption in adults with the onset of various cancers. As we see adverts promoting calcium's link to strong bones, Willett claims that a maximum of two servings of dairy can be accommodated by Western metabolisms. But, while Pichler avers that the industry oversells the health dividend, Tuborgh counters that every effort is being made to reduce fats and harmful additives to ensure that customers are sold products that simultaneously taste good and do them good.

With a budget of €45 billion keeping 13 million farmers afloat across the continent, agriculture is the most important sector within the European Community. Green Party MEP and organic dairy farmer Martin Häusling complains that EU policies are driven by conglomerates wanting cheap and plentiful raw materials and they encourage surpluses to keep costs down. But activists like Nina Holland point out that lobbyists like Pekka Pesonen, the Secretary General of the European Farmers' Association, Copa-Cogeca, pressurise politicians into serving the needs of companies like Nestlé and Danone rather than helping small farmers. Moreover, they have encouraged European producers to seek markets overseas because they have reached saturation point at home. 

Pichler is dismayed by the myth being spread across Asia that milk helps people become stronger and taller and he interviews a Chinese supermarket customer, who unquestioningly accepts the marketing hype. He travels to Hohhot to see the world's biggest milk factory and notes on a guided tour that Arla and Danone are among its primary shareholders. Heading into the countryside, Pichler also checks out an enormous livestock farm, which he compares with the Geiger property. They reveal that they had been promised bumper profits from Chinese exports, but they had failed to materialise and they have started going on demonstration marches to draw attention to the plight of the European farmers who were duped into investing in equipment that has increased yields without bringing any monetary reward. 

Rather than waste surpluses, companies have started to produce powdered milk for the Developing World. However, as Pichler explains, the process is energy intensive and the EU cuts free trade deals with countries in Africa to offload its products. In Dakar, Bacar Diaw, the President of the Senegalese Milk Association, shows Pichler the European products filling the shelves of the capital's shops, which makes it difficult for small producers like himself to profit from yoghurt and sour milk provided by indigenous herds. He highlights the fact that his costs are high because he is not subsidised and Häusling asserts that it's time that European taxpayers interested in low prices were informed that their money is helping to ruin African farmers.

Diaw calls on a farmer trying to survive on tiny yields in the face of competition from powdered milk. He commends him for bucking the trend at a time of rural exodus and notes that a sizeable number of the migrants who attempt to cross to Europe by boat have been driven from their homes by the collapse of the local economy. In 2008, the World Bank commissioned a study that revealed that increased productivity is not the answer to food shortages, but the availability of affordable and sustainable local produce. Agethle and Danish counterpart Kjartan Poulsen are not alone in seeking to implement this strategy in Europe and Pichler stresses that cows grazing on pasture produce better quality milk, while causing less ecological damage. Ironically, the Geigers make more money from selling their slurry for fuel than they do from their milk. But the situation remains grim and Häusling recalls standing for a minute's silence before a committee meeting to commemorate the 600 French farmers who had committed suicide over the previous year. 

Calmly and cogently presented, this brings to mind Valentin Thurn's has  Taste the Waste (2011) and 10 Billion: What Will We Eat Tomorrow? (2015). But it also deserves to stand alongside such classics of this docu-subgenre as Nikolaus Geyrhalter's Our Daily Bread (2005), Robert Kenner's Food Inc. (2008) and Katja Gauriloff's Canned Dreams (2012), as Pichler lays out the facts of the case without undue soapboxing. While the images captured by Jakob Stark and Martin Rattini are often striking - and sometimes sobering - the picture's heft comes from the contrasting pronouncements of the corporates and the farmers, as well as Pichler's own subtly damning musings. 

He might have dwelt longer on the impact that dairy products could have on consumers adding them to their diets for the first time, while more might have been made of the links between the big hitters and those shaping the EU's agricultural policies. But Pichler challenges several preconceptions and makes some troubling disclosures that should give everyone pause for thought when they next pour milk into their tea or on to their cereal.