Euphoric--along with OUTER AND INNER SPACE, the most beautiful of Warhol's movies. Like SPACE, BEAUTY focusses on that most otherworldly of movie presences, Edie Sedgwick, at the apogee of superstardom. For an hour, Edie in leopardskin underwear sits on a bed with a conked-out, junkie-looking wastrel who occasionally wakes up to make out with her. In the meantime, an intermittently audible Edie monologizes, when she isn't being baited and prodded by her jealous Svengali, meister-manipulator Chuck Wein, who sits just off camera.
Warhol's movies are famous for their "passivity," but in our self-help era we have a better word for it: passive aggression. The camera gazes limpidly on Edie's celestial perfection as she and Chuck go at it hammer and tongs; the movie is like an illustration of Flaubert's dictum about the perfect artist--present everywhere, visible nowhere. A combination druggy still life, lyric rhapsody and Edward Albee folie a deux, BEAUTY #2 can hit you--if you're in the right frame of mind--. In its meek-and-mild, limpid gaze, BEAUTY #2 turns the Factory's bathtub-speed glamor into a Zen-contemplative meadow out of a play by Zeami.
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