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Lili Taylor gives a savagely kinetic performance in this representation
of a disturbed individual who may just also have been a genius despite,
or because of, her treatment at the hands of various men throughout her
Judging biopics in terms of historical accuracy is for the most part a futile exercise. There is no 'truth', only interpretation, but if you want to get closer to the facts you really should be in the library, not the movie theatre. The story of Valerie Solanas is especially vexing in this case, because were this a work of complete fiction, the script would never have been made. The 'so what?' factor is superseded by the fact that this actually happened, and the legacy of Solanas still divides contemporary feminists.
As cinema, the film succeeds through the charisma exuded in Taylor's performance. Her descent into madness is sudden, vicious and uncompromising. The depiction of the shooting, the moment the film has been leading up to, shows a human being divorced absolutely from her conscience. The groovy scene around Warhol's the Factory is both decadent and, viewed from the 21st century, slightly twee. The pastiche of Sixties nostalgia is less foregrounded than Solanas's brutal victimhood. The film begins with a reading of her psychiatric evaluation, where a litany of unpunished crimes inflicted upon this woman by various men is laid out. The female director sets her stall out straight away - what you are hearing now leads through a direct line of cause and effect to the monstrous act you will see committed by Solanas later.
If the film has a major flaw, it is the title. Audiences could be mistaken for thinking it is about a documentarian of Warhol's life and work. Solanas and her SCUM manifesto, for better or worse, have made their mark, and perhaps 'Solanas' would have been a more fitting (if less marketable) title. Did it take the shooting for that to be the case? A polemical moment in recent history relayed straightforwardly, this is competent, entertaining, edifying cinema.
I had seen this film before, but I never actually got to write down what I thought about it. I think this is, or is one of my favorite movies. The directing by Mary Harron was so magnificent and brilliant that I cannot put it into words. As the title explains, the film tells the story of Andy Warhol, and the girl who shot him. I, being a major fan of Warhols, absolutely loved this movie. Not just b/c it had to do with Warhol, but the directing, acting, cinematography, writing, music, and editing were some of the best that I've seen. Harris' performance as Warhol was very memorable. He should have won an award for his performance, this whole movie should have won awards. Dorff's performance as Candy was at his best. No one could have played it better. Taylor was as good an actress as Dorff as Valerie. I have to mention once again that the directing by Harron was extraordinary. Wonderful. This is a movie I recommend to everybody.
On 1968, Valerie Solanas (Lili Taylor) shots Andy Warhol (Jared Harris)
and turns herself in to the police. Her reason lies in her anti-male
Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM) manifesto. She was molested as a
child. She attended University of Maryland from 1954 to 58 where she
developed her theory of the superiority of women. She prostituted
herself and became a lesbian. Homeless in 1966 NYC, Valerie and friend
Stevie (Martha Plimpton) meet transvestite Candy (Stephen Dorff). Candy
is invited to Warhol's Factory. Valerie tags along hoping to get Warhol
produce her play. Valerie meets avant-garde publisher Maurice Girodias
while doing her aggressive panhandling.
Lili Taylor is absolutely amazing. However Valerie's aggressively grating character makes it difficult to fully embrace this movie. There is no real tension. The ending is already shown. It's basically an one-woman show. It goes a long way but for me, it doesn't go far enough for greatness. It's one note played over and over again.
Based on the true story of Valerie Solanas who was a 60s radical
preaching hatred toward men in her "Scum" manifesto. She wrote a
screenplay for a film that she wanted Andy Warhol to produce, but he
continued to ignore her. So she shot him. This is Valerie's story.
Dr. Dana Heller, professor of English at the Old Dominion University, argues that the film stages the conflict between Solanas and Warhol as less the result of gender politics particularly because Solanas intended no connection between her writing and the shooting than of the decline of print culture as represented by Solanas and the rise of new non-writing media as embodied by Warhol and the Pop art movement. In the screenplay, Harron and Minahan describe Solanas as "banging at an ancient typewriter" and the film frequently shows her typing, for which she is mocked by Warhol and other Factory regulars. Solanas' writing is set against the new technologies of reproduction championed by Warhol.
The Andy Warhol in this film is nothing compared to the one played by David Bowie in "Basquiat". The voice and mannerisms are good, but Bowie just nails it. The film in general is excellent, though, and Lili Taylor was the perfect person for the role. What is she up to these days? It seems like she had a good run in the 1990s, playing off of John Cusack, and then disappeared.
I know the difference between acting a part and BECOMING a part. Lili Taylor has so thoroughly transformed herself into Valerie Solanis that I forgot she was Lili Taylor! I studied Ms. Solanis a bit after seeing this film and watched her on YouTube. Lili must've studied her too because she nailed this character. Its a true story as well, an observance of a damaged woman with a severe personality disorder. I read in Andy Warhol's biography that he was so repressed that he attracted unstable, outwardly angry people like this to himself all the time. This film is both amusing and fascinating, a true character study.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Good to see Lili Taylor again, she is one of my favorite actresses,
even if I've not seen much with her in it lately (it is really time to
go see 'The Addiction' and 'Factotum' again, and then some). I've never
seen anything with the real Valerie Solanas in it (nor did I know
anything about her until I recently saw Zbynek Brynych's 'Die
Weibchen', based on the S.C.U.M. Manifesto), but Taylor does a fine
performance, as does pretty much everyone else in the cast.
I found this to be an interesting film; Solanas is an intriguing person whose personality was uncontrollable, not in the least by herself. It would be easy to discard her as crazy - too easy. She fit right in with the crowd at the time, but her mental issues got the better of her. Had her Manifesto been published straight away and appreciated for the absurd piece of feminist work it has come to be, maybe things could have taken a different turn for her - though I wouldn't dare to feel certain about that, seeing as much of the publicity (probably) came with her attempting to kill Warhol ánd her mental problems may have been too severe anyway...
Back to the film, for a minute: I really liked it, being a fairly straight-forward telling of Solanas' life, mostly focusing on (about) a few years up until she shot Warhol. The party scene was a bit too long for my taste though and at times her rans felt a little repetitive, but on the other hand, I didn't catch all of it, either. The characters of Stevie, Candy Darling and Warhol are also quite memorable.
A big 7 out of 10, and perhaps I'll try this one again sometime, to really take in all the info and rantings.
If you shoot someone whom others consider "important" I suppose some
filmmaker will want to make a movie about you. I can think of no other
reason why anyone would want to make a film about Valerie Solanas (Lili
Taylor), the spunky, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, self-centered,
lesbian feminist who, in the summer of 1968, shot Andy Warhol (Jared
Harris). Warhol was a New York City painter/artist ... or something ...
and guru of all things avant-garde, who attracted the chic and the
trendy to his New York City "Factory", the center of counterculture pop
In the film Solanas, who harbors an enormous grudge against men, comes across initially as assertive and resourceful. She makes a living hustling the streets: "Pardon me sir, you got 15 cents? Pardon me sir ..." On the rooftop of a high-rise she types her S.C.U.M. "manifesto", outlining her complaints against the male species.
But whereas Solanas is passionate about her cause, Warhol is a study in emotional detachment and indifference. He, and those in his orbit, sees Solanas more as a hanger-on. At one point, Solanas shows Warhol her typed manifesto. Warhol flips through it and responds in a deadpan manner: "Did you type this yourself? I'm so impressed. You should come type for us." Marvelous.
The film's best element is the acting. Lili Taylor is terrific. She really gets into the Solanas persona. Jared Harris also gives a splendid performance. The film's tone teeters between seriousness and tongue-in-cheek humor. Costumes, prod design, music, and lighting are all credible.
For modern day feminists, "I Shot Andy Warhol" probably is required viewing. For others, the film offers a cinematic study into the mindset of a quirky, sincere, but ultimately self-deceptive and delusional young woman who got her fifteen minutes of fame by carrying her political cause a little too far.
Although 'I shot Andy Warhol' might not be everyone's cup of tea, it is a nice, slick film that grabs the viewers' attention right from the start. It is however Lily Taylor's performance that makes the movie. She commands every scene and displays her brilliance as an actress whether she comes off as angry, confused, ignorant or naive. The film flows very well except for the party scene which drags on slightly. The only negative piece to it is that the watchers never learns the fates of all those involved in this crazy time. Otherwise, 'Andy Warhol' is an intriguing drop into the world of one woman's insanity and it's resulting effects.
The movie without doubt was great, but why do they call Andy Warhol a
genius, did he invent something or discover something outstanding? I
ask this because in our society or the Art world, someone will take
simple dog feces from the street, freshly 'produced' and create a
design on canvas with it and this person will be labeled for life, a
genius! This kind of thing makes me wonder, for I can see people use
regular paint that is used on canvas paintings and paint their faces
and body with it. How many will also take freshly produced dog feces
and paint their faces and body with it?!
As for the movie, I only have one question, how is it that this girl walks over to Andy Warhol, fires one shot misses or just wounds Andy, and the other two that were there just do nothing! I mean this is a girl they know, petite and according to the movie, she just stood rigid with the gun pointed to Andy. Then when she fires a shot closer to Andy and he falls, she slowly walks to him, points the gun to his chest and shoots. You think there was no time for two guys to rush her and pin her petite body down and wrestle the gun away? After all, Andy was revered as a genius? What other opinions are there on this? Or did the director of the movie take some liberties to show the frame of her mind when she shot Andy Warhol?
An independent gem of a movie that proves once again that give a good
actor some well-written dialogue and the support to take a few risks
and you can make gold. Lili Taylor, working under the careful
stewardship of Mary Hanlon, works hard to give a pitch perfect
performance as the brilliant and deeply troubled Solanas. Her
intelligence and humor and always evident, but for all her strutting
arrogance, she conveys an uncertainty and vulnerability that
foreshadows what is ultimately a painful and tragic descent into
violence and paranoia.
The evocation of the late 60's New York underground, and Warhol's Factory in particular, is brilliant, even more so when you consider the low budget and that Andy Warhol's Estate refused to allow any of the artists work to actually be duplicated for the movie. The pill-popping, light-show gazing, pretentiousness, promiscuity and vacuousness of the scene have not been this well portrayed since Midnight Cowboy.
The supporting cast, without exception, are brilliant, inhabiting their characters completely with just a few lines, and the soundtrack perfectly sets the tone and period. While the narrative lags in spots and could have benefited with a little tightening in the editing room, I Shot Andy Warhol is still a wonderful testament to the ambitious possibilities of low-budget, independent film-making.
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