First-time director Eric Schwartz teams up with producer and writer John Corry to document the tumultuous rise of the black-and-gray tattoo culture, from its gang/prison roots to a global art form that is all about individual freedom and self-expression. Some of the memorable images, captured on moving flesh, are reminiscent of the cave drawings in Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
One-third of American adults under the age of 40 have at least one tattoo (meaning 45 million of us have tattoos), and the film, with a host of stirring interviews — including Charlie Cartwright and Jack Rudy, the founders of Good Time Charlie’s Tattooland, the first tattoo parlor in East Los Angeles; and celebrities such as Travis Barker and Danny Trejo — has enough appeal to inspire even an aging tattoo virgin to finally get inked.
Special two-night only screenings of Tattoo Nation are scheduled at AMC Newport on the Levee. 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday. $10.50. 1 Levee Way, Newport, 888-AMC-4FUN, tattoonationscreenings.com.