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Warhol's adaptation (for lack of a more shambling word) of Anthony Burgess'
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE begins with a giant closeup of the glowering droog
antihero, then moves backward to reveal him narcissistically preening while
a crowd of poshy socialites sits blithely by. If this sounds familiar, it's
because it's the same opening Stanley Kubrick designed for his version of
the book--except that Warhol, working on a sub-Z budget, could only zoom
backward, not track.
VINYL is staged in what seems to be a corner of Andy's Factory loft, where a knot of S&M kidnappers, languid dilettantes, plainclothesmen and JD's act out Burgess' fable of a thug's "cure" through mind control. The moralizing of Burgess' novel gets instantly burned away in the wake of a kooky combination of elegant minimalist mise-en-scene, rough-trade heavy breathing, and the usual Warholian giggling at seemingly blithe freaks and damaged goods
Some of the picture lags under the burden of Ronald Tavel's clunky sixties-off-Broadway writing, but the first sequence is sheer amazement--climaxing with the droog Gerard Malanga's motto-delivering monologue (a pinnacle among Warhol is-this-supposed-to-be-bad? scenes) and his nutty chicken dance to Martha and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Hide"--played all the way through, twice. (The start-up of rendition #2 gets the movie's biggest laugh.)
As always in Warhol, the stasis of the image gives the picture the feeling of a window onto eternity. And the combination of extreme glamour and fox-in-the-henhouse cruelty, framed in compositions that recall heads in a vise, suggests the excitement this work must have had for an ambitious young Bavarian actor-playwright named Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
"Vinyl" was the 1965 experimental film by, none other than, Andy Warhol
himself. This is a crude adaptation of the classic Anthony Burgess
novel "A Clockwork Orange".
I wasn't expecting a groundbreaking performance when I put the movie on to watch, as you'd probably know if you've seen such classic Warhol films as "Poor Little Rich Girl" and especially "Sleep". But Warhol films can be fun if you have a lot of patience, as I had very little to begin with (I lasted about 30 minutes before I started getting antsy for the film to end). I won't give too much of the plot away but I can tell you that it has it's moments, such as the name-calling, the candle wax being poured on the protagonist's chest, and the awful acting (or improv apparently).
In short I believe any Warhol fan would like this film. My advice to the people is give it a shot if your a movie lover, just to say you watched it (or tried to), but if you have no patience for these kind of movies then this may not be your cup of tea.
At this point in my life I have seen worse and stranger films than Andy
Warhol's Vinyl, but I cannot say that improved my viewing experience.
The film is the pop-artist's interpretation of Anthony Burgess' "A
Clockwork Orange" and was made six years before the much more famous
Kubrick version. Why is Vinyl not as memorable as the widely known and
accepted 70's adaptation? The answer to that question is easy -
Warhol's version sucks.
Vinyl does follow the basic story of "A Clockwork Orange". Victor is a troubled youth who is taken in and made subject to a terrible experiment that makes him submissive to violence. If left at this, the movie would have been kind of neat, but poor production quality and significant artistic liberties make this an unusual and uncomfortable experience.
In this film, the camera hardly moves. All of the characters exist is the same small space and world. Warhol's camera is the dictator over what is important, and it never allows the viewer to get a full sense of what is going on. This creates a cramped and almost unwatchable series of events that are sort of explained, yet hardly audible.
The acting is almost laughably bad. The cast is made up of Andy Warhol's Factory regulars, and I would be surprised if any of them knew how to properly play a character. Some names that may shout out to art snobs are Gerard Malanga (in the lead role) and Ondine (as Scum Baby). Watching these "famous" socialite figures bumble through their lines is sometimes hilarious. You can hear voices off screen feeding lines to the actors. If they forget what they are saying they will just stop and move on to the next part. It is unbelievable that Vinyl got as far as it did in production.
But that ties in to what makes Vinyl sort of interesting. This is not a film that was rehearsed ahead of time. The actors did not know their lines or cues or anything before Warhol put the camera on them and shouted action. Heck, it does not even have an opening or ending sequence of credits. All we open and close to is Warhol yelling the names of the cast and crew from off camera.
There is also a very strange homosexual sadist scene around the end of the picture. I cannot confirm or deny whether or not the source material contained any sexual undertones, but Warhol must have seen them in there somewhere. I am not sure why they decided that leather masks and wax burning was the way to go, but I remember the torture scene in the novel to be a bit less...weird.
One positive note about Vinyl is that the audience gets to see the beautiful Edie Sedgwick throughout the entirety of the action. She serves as almost a part of the set. She does not speak, but she smokes and dances and forces the audience to pay attention to her. It is no doubt that Warhol wanted her to be a star. She has a mesmerizing quality about her. Knowing the story of her tragic life and death, it was almost sad to see her first on-screen appearance. She did not look as though she knew what she was getting into with the Factory. Even if she did, she was out of place.
Vinyl is not the least entertaining movie that I have ever seen, but I cannot understand why it has been deemed significant. Yes, an Andy Warhol telling of "A Clockwork Orange" might seem interesting to the everyday moviegoer - but the horrible acting, sound quality and direction makes the whole thing not worth the time.
If this film had been directed by anybody else, I doubt the public would have ever even heard of it. I would have been okay with that. Pop-art and the fifteen seconds of fame may be the good things that Andy Warhol brought to the world, but Vinyl is a bad movie. I would rather look at the soup can for 70 minutes....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One hungover morning, Warhol and a bunch of his compatriots decided to
re-enact Anthony Burgess' science fiction novel "A Clockwork Orange".
Warhol packed all of the characters into a single frame and in two long
takes half-improvised the entire thing to the occasional pop music
score and a long line of sadomasochist imagery. And like anything Andy
Warhol, it's delightful even if it's not.
The most interesting part of this movie, if you could call it that, is the fact that all of the scenes, characters, and actions take place in that single framing. What looks like Victor and the Droogs is actually Victor and his victims, the police, the background, and everybody else involved in the story. Without any previous experience in the plot of A Clockwork Orange, this movie would be absolutely nonsense. With previous experience in the plot of Clockwork Orange, it's only sort of nonsense.
The best part, in a way, is its worst aspects: the sound of traffic outside, the static framing, the bad acting. Andy Warhol has basically created a really bad snuff porn. Think about it: the acting is about as random and displaced as porno movies; the framing is set to show either everything or confusingly close-up to accentuate nothing; and it all degrades into sex and drugs anyway. But he seems to have found something compelling in this, largely in the way he re-works and satirizes Burgess' novel. Don't bother with the specifics--they don't matter. Just think about how memorable it is seeing some guy yell at some other guy, "You're a bad boy, a bad boy, you'll be a bad boy!" and the other guy's response being, "But I want to be good!" There is also the strange thing going on with the fact that the other characters are either busy doing their own stuff in the frame or literally just sitting there watching the movie go on around them. The framing is that specific framing of bad that your eye doesn't really have a whole lot to do while watching, so while a continuous moment of S&M goes on in the foreground, one can literally get distracted by trying to figure out what that spinning thing in the background is. And the movie is punctuated by the credits read aloud off-screen.
Hey, it's amateurish, almost lazy, and dull. It's also, in those very same ways, kind of disturbing and fascinating. In general, it's just like Andy Warhol. And specifically, it's an interesting look into the wish-fulfillment aspects of Burgess' famous text.
This footage is little more than a filmed rehearsal in a corner of a
warehouse. Warhol demonstrates the 'less is more' mantra to an
unplumbed basement of embarrassment. This vision of Warhol's really has
nothing to do with the medium of film, and all that is learned is that
he was very spoiled to have the resources in order to make this, for
there are bound to be more important artists and concepts (and even
adaptations) that went un-filmed in this era of early experimentation.
Warhol fills a stage with the cast, and we can only sympathize with them, for their talents are criminally obstructed by the moronic limitations imposed upon them. With presumably only the source text (a novel) to go by (for who would argue that any useful screenplay was written?), the actors go about filling out the bare guidelines of the inappropriately treated material. Warhol, like a spoiled child, asks so much of his cast while giving so little; and beyond that, he almost seems to obstruct or minimize the source material.
Given this, the performers do what they can when they can, and without them, this film would have nothing to give. Warhol's demonstrated contempt for cinema acts as a saboteur; the performers at the mercy of his nonconstructive (mark it, not 'de-constructive') approach, and we are forced to watch them feel for cues, lines and staging directions. Shamefully, it is left for them to stick their necks out. Warhol, like a selfish undergraduate, seems to hide childishly behind the camera the very last place any true artist would escape to.
Carillo, Latrae and particularly Malanga are victorious even with these enormous obstructions (not, I argue, because of them). Their lines are delivered fairly robotic-like and sporadically; a rhythm is established because of this, but it abandoned well into the 'second-reel'. Here we are treated to some off-camera sadism, while even the most hardened of extras (E. Sedgewick for example) remain distant, unmoved and as bored as anyone else involved: actors and audience alike. When the cast display indifference and the director promotes his carelessness, we are only left with spectacle. Even there, 'Vinyl' has little to give. The highlight of the film (or at least the most memorable set piece) is that of Malanga dancing to 'Nowhere to Run'.
Following this there is a smattering of whipping, strapping, beating and struggling. The film then descends into further unscripted stumbling and ramblings. Most of it stays in frame.
I can't see what Warhol gave us with this film. The narrative is lost, the actors are maltreated, and the production values do more harm than good. Warhol fails on virtually all grounds here the real kudos needs to go to the performers. This film is a very selfish one, spawned from a selfish, lazy director.
"Vinyl" is so bad that for a moment I almost enjoyed it when I realized
what's his creator was intending to do. I almost feel bad in writing a
negative review about it because I understood what Andy Warhol made
here. The problem is the experience's result on me, how I felt until I
reach a positive enlightenment about what this is all about. Seeing the
whole picture as a whole it didn't satisfied me to look at it in a good
Slowing down this confused thoughts, let me go from the beginning now. "Vinyl" is a free adaptation of Anthony Burgess revolutionary work "A Clockwork Orange". You read right. Kubrick wasn't the first to play with this material. Forget about Alex DeLarge, his rebellion, his mates and the violence and all. All we see here is the part of his "treatment" to become a good person and get nauseated with the things at once he used to love. In its one hour and so, "Vinyl" goes to show a young man being tortured by an eccentric group of people through some strange methods such as forced to hear loud music (among the songs there's "Nowhere to Run" - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, OK, this is not really torture, that is such an uplifting and great song. Might work to the youngsters of today who can only listen to noise they call music), spanking, suffocation and other things. For the most part this young man will suffer physical and verbal abuse to finally reach his "cure". Yes, the characters speak but you can barely understand what they're saying.
My enlightenment came after a long while and so many thoughts trying to figure out what's the movie's point. Warhol wanted that we feel all the pain, the misery, the annoyance his main character gets from those people. He succeed in that! We feel bored, hurt to a certain extent horrified by all the punishment the man gets (even if the camera is still and we don't have close ups to see what's happening to him in the background but there's his scream to be heard), we feel anguished, tormented, wanting for all that (the movie, the music and the beatings) to stop. The whole situation is like a damaged vinyl, it keeps going on and on repeating the same part until someone turns the player off, or change the record. Brilliant, isn't it? I got it!
Here comes the problem in enduring such thing. It sounded pretentious and it didn't work. Warhol is cheating on us here. David Lynch can disturb us, present his shocking show, make it difficult to us but in the end we feel that we've got something there even if we didn't solve the whole charade. It's easier to enjoy and obtain something from his works. Can't say the same about the pop art master with this particular film that is too long with its allegedly message, it's exhausting and often you'll be closing your eyes, falling asleep but amazingly hearing all what's going on. It's funny that I made the comparison between Lynch and Warhol because it reminds of an overreacting criticism of a reviewer who said that Lynch treated badly his actors in "Blue Velvet", he tortured them by making them perform strange things. I don't see it that way in that movie, but here I do. There's no stunt doubles here, everything looks and sounds quite real (it might have been some technique, I don't know) every time the young actor gets spanked, bound to a chair, screaming and moaning. He was mistreated in so many ways to one can wonder how much money did he got for all of this (you can't get much of an indie project).
Like I said before, I feel a little bad for disliking this. It's a bad movie for what it tries to make to us but it's not so lame like many disastrous Hollywood flicks that might had a good intention that got perverted on the way. Highpoint of this is listening to "Nowhere to Run" twice with the actors performing some crazy dance movements. Gladly, such scene appears when I thought this could have been a great movie, right in the first minutes. An experience for the courageous at heart and mind who can spare an hour of his life without getting anything in trade. I watched the whole thing, didn't like it but don't regret nothing. 2/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I found this film in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, I am pretty confident I would never have even heard about this film were it not for the book. I was most interested to watch it when I found out it was a work by artist Andy Warhol, and then finding out it is an early adaptation of the Anthony Burgess book A Clockwork Orange was even more interesting. Basically it is all set in one room, all the characters are actors hanging around waiting for their cue, or just watching the play-like scenario unfold. Victor (Gerard Malanga) is the leader of the gang who loves violence and being bad, you see a man in the background being tortured throughout, and Victor loves music, including "Nowhere to Run" by Martha and the Vandellas. But Victor is caught by police, the Doctor (Tosh Carillo) is determined to cure him and change his ways, using aversion therapy, which sees Victor strapped to a chair, put in a gimp mask, and made to watch what he originally used to love. Victor appears to be better, but slowly descends into a kind of madness, the film culminates in a short orgy, before Victor slumps down to rest for a cigarette, the film fades to white. Also starring Larry Latrae, J.D. McDermott, Ondine, Jacques Potin and Edie Sedgwick. The acting is very amateurish, you see the actors fluff their lines and drop things, seeing them all in the background suddenly appear as a character is daft, and the worst bit comes ten minutes towards the end when loud music is playing in an opposite room, everything becomes inaudible. I wish I could say I enjoyed this film, but it is so bad that you can't take it seriously, even if it was onstage as a play, you should definitely stick to the brilliant Stanley Kubrick version and not bother with this nonsense, unless you really have to study it as a dedicated cinema fan, a pretty pointless experimental satire. Adequate!
This film is difficult to summarize. I didn't realize it was based on
"A Clockwork Orange", even being a fan of the much more famous Kubrick
version. It basically is the result of Andy Warhol pointing his camera
at the various misfits, hustlers and drug addicts that hung around The
Factory, and telling them to "act".
So why is the film deserving a 7 star review? Well, did you ever see one of those ordinary clay pots in a museum, and find yourself fascinated by it because it was thousands of years old? This film is an artifact of another time; an era when sex, drugs and rock n' roll were more interesting, because they were seemingly happening for the first time.
During this black and white"classic" we are treated to a memorable segment of Gerald Malanga dancing so frenetically that we wonder if he suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder. Filled with unnatural energy, he hammers out his various lewd moves with contortions including "the jerk". A bored Edie Sedgwick looks on , first motionless then later unenthusiastically joining in. Is she mocking him? Is she lucid enough to mock? This viewer will never know . In the background we hear several quips of a lascivious and evil laugh, too loud and weird for us ever to forget. If they put warning labels on movies , this one might have one saying "Warning: the following cannot be unseen".
The people who are in the film still living can be seriously labeled "survivors", and they are as deserving of the term as anyone who has experienced famine , disease, or abuse. It is easy to see why the life expectancy of 'the scene" was similar to an infantry man on the front lines of any war, and most in these frames are no longer with us.
I am sure many avant-garde choreographers have been inspired by the head whipping dance segments , "Beevis and Butthead" come to mind. Memorable, original; but not for the emotionally labile.
The first film version of Anthony Burgess' classic 1962 novel A
Clockwork Orange is not Stanley Kubrick's celebrated 1971 film of the
same name, but a 70-minute art film by no less a person than Andy
Warhol. Andy may have had talent in his pop art, but his direction in
Vinyl leaves something to be desired.
I just read Burgess' novel for the first time this weekend, and unless people in 1965 had read it first, they might have had considerable difficulty trying to decipher just what in God's name is going on on-screen. The camera stays in one place for the whole movie, which adds to the feeling you're watching a high school play. Indeed, our protagonist reads out his lines with the monotony and lack of emotion you'd expect from high school actors. The film includes a couple things from the book not in Kubrick's version- the protagonist tearing up the books of a victim, a speech about how no one asks why a good person does good things. But in removing the Nadsat, Warhol in effect guts the story of its poetry.
The dancing to music goes on too long, and the protagonist describing what he sees in the conditioning films gets repetitive fast. Although I'll admit, I laughed good when they finally mixed it up with something truly bizarre- "I see little children having their teeth pulled out by yellow dwarfs." Wait, what? At the end of the day, it's Kubrick's version that does the most justice to its source material, and that's the reason it's the most remembered version.
Vinyl is significant in it actually does, after the really, really
mixed-bag of The Velvet Underground and Nico, show me that Warhol is
somewhat serious about his craft as a filmmaker. It's daring as an
experiment actually pays off, for the patient and willing viewer that
is. Where-as Velvet took its camera cues from an epileptic monkey on
amyls, Vinyl is more ambitious in its minimalist way. And as an
adaptation of Clockwork Orange it's... only so close as to maybe
reference street crime and being "bad" or "good" and signing your life
away. If your looking for droogs, need not enter here you do.
Vinyl is, as Velvet was in all actuality and Sleep and Blow Job and Empire, all in 'one shot'. Curiously I never really saw the film change its cans, though maybe that was an editing trick (or maybe not, I'd have to see it again to be sure), but it all looks to be a movie 'in-camera' as it were. It's a kind of deranged classic of framing and composition. Warhol of course is open for improvisation- he doesn't seem like the kind of guy, on the opposite end of Kubrick ironically enough on this project- to do a lot of "takes". Just roll and let it happen. In that sense Warhol had a perverted sense of mixing documentary and fiction, or maybe as with Herzog the lines could blur. This is no way to compare the two filmmakers, but there you go I just did by accident.
So, the movie. It's about a, uh, I guess a street hoodlum who see the cops as "good" but doesn't want to be "good" and wants to rail against the f***ers. The film starts out on a shot of this man's face (played by a not-good-but-interesting actor Gerald Malanga) and pulls out to show the whole scene: a woman (Edie Sedgwick) on the right side, a 'doctor' or some authority figure on the left, and a few figures in the back. One of these figures, for at least the first half of the movie, is being tortured while standing up.
This makes for a morbidly funny picture as Malanga and Sedgwick dance not once but twice to Martha and the Vandella's fantastic "Nowhere to Run" (this is where Warhol has his best sense of play and fun, something that seems uncharacteristic but must have its moments). Then it goes on to have a 'story' of Victor (Malanga) being caught, brought in for the "treatment" of the Ludovico sort, though it's never called that here perhaps for copyright reasons, and then Victor proceeds to get tortured. Oh, and there's a Gimp in there too. And he's not sleeping.
Vinyl does entertain if one can get keyed into it. I was never particularly bored by this, and I have to give credit to Warhol, whether by actual direction or by accident, had a vision for where he wanted to go with the actors and the framing of his 'shot(s)'. It's all content and some style, as the actors move in and out of the frame and it barely changes once it makes its move down into its wide-angle position on all of the players for the movie. Another weird note is that Warhol didn't write the dialog that's given to the actors, many of whom are clearly not professionals by any stretch of the imagination. They even look like they're reading off of the newspapers and stuff they have in their hands, which gives the movie a kind of bizarre theatricality to it.
Vinyl takes a look at what few didn't realize was around at the time, if anyone outside the factory or small underground NYC theaters saw this, which is the culture or mentality of S&M and punishment, maybe for pleasure, maybe not. I have to wonder if it was all a put-on, and maybe it was. Warhol must have had a sick-puppy sense of humor, and it comes out here. Certainly I was laughing through a lot of it- maybe at it, but who knows, it is meant to be camp to an extent- and it succeeds on the level of actually being about "something". What that is fully, I don't know. Whatever themes it gleams off of Burgess' novel are very trivial; it could have been any book that's anti-authority and about a juvenile delinquent. The one thing separating it is its science fiction nature of torture and surrendering the body to "science" as it were.
I suppose as a recontamination it could go like this: If you have to see one Warhol movie in your life, it might as well be this one. But only if you despise things like cut-aways and montage. If you've also been looking for the longest-take-imaginable, it's here. If you're looking for a coherent adaptation of Burgess' novel... stick with Kubrick, even if he possibly, though not likely, ripped-off the opening shot of his film from Warhol's opening of this movie. Like it or not, its a deranged would-be master piece of single-shot filmmaking.
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