(Air Date: Week Of 05/22/96)
So-- what if you don't think that an infinity of Campbell Soup Cans make a work of art? What if you don't think much of the 60's era of op, pop, blacklights, turning on, and dropping out? What if you think Andy Warhol's three decades of fame are rather hard to justify? Is there still any reason to catch I Shot Andy Warhol?
The reason is Valerie Solanas, the sometimes brilliant, often very disturbed, grunge-bohemian author of the SCUM Manifesto. SCUM is her self-created Society for Cutting Up Men, and one of is milder and less scatological ideas is: "A 'male artist' is a contradiction in terms. A degenerate can only produce degenerate 'art.'" On June 3rd., 1968, she shot Andy Warhol pointblank in his avant-garde film studio The Factory. Lili Taylor's portrayal of Valerie, and the dazzling docudrama screenplay, are the reasons to see the movie. On the grand tour of Valerie's psyche, you watch the struggle of a strong and humorous, but angry, and clearly off-balance spirit, whose destiny was never to find a niche it could comfortably fill.
We see her on the streets trying to sell copies of SCUM for anywhere from a quarter to a dollar, selling sex for not too much more, and, most originally, selling her conversation by the miinute. That she was riveting in that capacity is obvious from the interest she sparks from a French publisher she meets on the streets, and from Mr. Warhol himself. Upon meeting Valerie Solanas through her transvestite friend, Candy Darling, he felt her energy, gave her a screentest, and let her come around. After all, his avant garde film studio, The Factory, democratically gave entree to, in his words, "crazy, druggy" people whom he saw as catalysts for his creativity. In the Factory you meet Warhol's main players, like Pope Ondine, who, when introduced as a great actor, says: "That's very nice, because most people consider me a vulgar pig."
Valerie wants to be more than an oddity -- she wants Warhol to produce her play. But Warhol puts her off and loses her script, the members of his catty and pretentious inner circle put her down, her dehumanizing life on the street takes its toll until-- well, that's where we came in-- she shoots Andy Warhol because, as she explains it, he has too much power over her mind.
See I Shot Andy Warhol for the 60's art scene, the mental voyage into parts unknown, a myriad of strong performances, and for its perfect dramatic trajectory.
Copyright 1996 Mary Weems
"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index
"Movie Magazine International" Home Page