Capsule reviews of films I liked, previously published in the Austin Chronicle.
Andy Warhol’s Vinyl, made in 1965, was the first filmed version of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and it opens with a shot so powerful Stanley Kubrick would later ape it in his 1971 remake: Surrounded by his cronies, our (anti)hero gazes directly into the camera, his face wearing an expression of blank, thuggish entitlement. But similarities end there: When Warhol’s camera zooms back, it frames the shot that will compose most of this black-and-white, three-take film.
Though Warhol keeps it simple as ever, this is no Sleep-style minimalist snoozer but rather a rough-trade recasting of Burgess’ novel – a scratchy and gunky love song to torture and domination, not a Kubrickean morality tale at all. Also as ever, Warhol constantly keeps reminding us that this is a movie (as if his nonexistent budget makes us need any reminding). Boasting awkward, stagy blocking, bored on-camera extras, and a hungover Gerard Malanga dancing furiously (and twice in a row) to Martha Reeves’ “Nowhere to Run,” Vinyl is both funny and numbing, and what’s disturbing is that it’s difficult to discern what percentage of either is intentional. But when it works it’s trashily fascinating, and Vinyl‘s script, in particular (by Ronald Tavel), is a mini-masterpiece of pulp poetry.
(And the whole thing is here on YouTube:)
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Originally published in the Austin Chronicle. September 14, 2001. Revised.