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I Shot Andy Warhol

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: I Shot Andy Warhol

Starring: Lili Taylor, Jared Harris
Director: Mary Harron
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: May 1996
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Gay/Lesbian


*Also starring: Lothaire Bluteau, Martha Plimpton, Stephen Dorff, Anna Thomson, Peter Friedman, Tahnee Welch, Donovan Leitch, Michael Imperioli, Reg Rogeis



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

I SHOT ANDY WARHOL is set mainly in the mid 60s and is based on a true story. It is done in quasi-documentary style and tells about the life of Valerie Solanas (Lili Taylor) who shot Andy Warhol (Jared Harris) because "he had too much control over my life." The reason he had so much control is because he would not produce her play claiming it was "too disgusting even for us." I can not even repeat its name in this G rated review of an R rated film.

The movie starts with Andy alive but his body bloody and quivering after being shot. The police want to know why she shot him, but she keeps telling them it is too complicated to explain. The film then switches to her time in college and works it way back to the shooting.

The best thing going for this basically worthless film is the strong and effective performance by Lili Taylor. Valerie describes herself as a "butch dyke." She is as tough as nails. After college she supports herself with panhandling and heterosexual prostitution while living a life as a lesbian. She starts a one person revolutionary group called SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men), and she reads constantly from her SCUM Manifesto. A lot of her philosophy is obtuse. She says, "You got to go through a lot of sex to be ready for anti-sex." She hangs out with her friend Stevie (Martha Plimpton) and Stevie's girlfriend, the male transvestite Candy Darling (Stephen Dorff).

The cinematography (Ellen Kuras) is in color, but with many cuts to grainy black and white footage of Valerie reading from her play or her manifesto. The slow editing (Keith Reamer) and the almost non-existent music (John Cale) of the film is in sharp contrast to the vibrant and energetic trailers for the picture. I was impressed by the trailers. Warhol is right about the play being crude. The longest excerpt we hear has to do with everyone eating excrement.

I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out why this picture was made. What was the director trying to accomplish? I finally decided perhaps the message was about the shallowness of the 60s drug culture in general and of Andy Warhol in particular. In the film, we see unhappy people doing pills, pot, LSD, and heroin. There is even a mock Eucharist scene where they use the words to the Mass but give the kids LSD cubes instead of the host.

Andy comes off as having no visible talent, and his brain seems to be on another planet. When a TV reporter ask him, "Why do you spend your time making underground films?" He answers, "It's easier than painting." When asked which painters he likes best, he replies, "Oh, all of them."

His friends having a vastly stilted view of "The Factory" where Warhol's people hang out and work. His second in command as it were, Gerard Malanga (Donovan Leitch), likens The Factory to the old MGM star system. He then goes on to say, "Our kids are a lot like the Disney children except they are modern kids. They take drugs and have sex."

I SHOT ANDY WARHOL runs 1:40. It is rated R. There is nudity, explicit sex of many flavors, some violence, bad language, and lots of smoking and drug usage. I would only let quite mature teenagers see it. I can not recommend this film whose only claim to fame, other than the great performance by Lili Taylor, is its attempt to shock and to show us the nihility of the 60s drug culture and of Andy Warhol. For Taylor's performance I give the movie * 1/2.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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