Films by Andy Warhol, program one | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Films by Andy Warhol, program one


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Andy Warhol's name was so often attached to narrative films by Paul Morrissey (Andy Warhol's Flesh, Andy Warhol's Trash, etc) that some viewers might be surprised at the rawness and randomness of the films Warhol directed himself. This Chicago Filmmakers program, which collects three of his earliest works, reveals his aesthetic debt to composer John Cage: the director doesn't seem to be directing anyone, and his camera passively observes everything from slight body movements to a kinky threesome. Couch (1964), running almost an hour, consists of 14 unedited camera rolls, each showing the couch in Warhol's Factory from a different angle. The various figures assembled around it form a series of powerfully blocked compositions, their mood overtly erotic: a great many bananas are consumed, one nude woman fails to attract the attention of a guy working on his motorcycle, and almost everyone stares off into the distance with a bored languor that has come to characterize a whole school of fashion photography. In the last third of the film the sex becomes explicit, though as the erotic gazes of the early scenes give way to the viewer's voyeuristic participation, the film becomes unifed around the subject of looking. On the same program, Haircut (No. 1) (1963, 24 min.) and Mario Banana (No. 1) (1964, 4 min.). Columbia College Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan, Friday, June 22, 8:00, 773-293-1447.

--Fred Camper

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