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[Berlin Review] Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

The pack of documentaries in this year’s Panorama selection has thrown up an interesting pair on the Berlinale’s opening weekend. Moving from filmmaking to photography, just one day after Aaron Brookner’s Uncle Howard opened in the Panorama Dokumente section, we find another non-fiction feature immersed in the creative explosion and ultimate tragedy of the gay scene in ’80s New York. Directed for HBO by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato — the subversive television production couple behind RuPaul’s Drag Race, Deeper Throat, and Sex Change Hospital — Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures provides a snappy, confidently explicit overview of the photographer’s work and life that chooses not to sugarcoat the man’s ruthless ambition or seemingly exasperating personality.

Born to English and Irish parents in Queens, New York, Robert Mapplethorpe would take the ritual and symbolism of his Catholic upbringing and use it to create some of the

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