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Brigid Berlin was the child every parent fears having. Born in 1939 to
media mogul Richard Berlin and his socialite wife Honey, Brigid seemed
to be on the fast track to a world of wealth and social registers--but
she had a weight problem, and when mother Honey focused upon this
Brigid rebelled. It was a rebellion that would ultimately lead her
reject her parents, their way of life, and their values as absurdly
In 1964 Brigid met rising artist Andy Warhol, who had a knack for picking up extreme personalities and using them to fuel both his ambitions and inspiration. For once, however, he gave almost as much as he took: Brigid not only developed an arts reputation in her own right, she also managed to remain friends with Warhol until his 1987 death--something that very few people, and particularly those of Warhol's 1960s circle, ever managed.
PIE IN THE SKY might best be described as a collage of Brigid Berlin then and now. Released in 2000, the film finds her living in New York, where she has considerable cache in the avant guarde arts world--and obsessing about her weight, her smoking habit, her past, her present, her future--and indeed virtually everything. In fact, the word "obsessing" might be the keynote in her life, which she documents as it unfolds with a degree of relentlessness that is quite astonishing.
Yesterday--be it literally yesterday or fifty years ago--is just as intense in Berlin's mind as today, and a good portion of the film is given over to her reflections on her parents, the way of life that she rejected, and the pleasure she took in horrifying the social world throughout her life. She talks about art. She demonstrates her technique, which might be generously described as body painting. Now slim, she breaks her eternal diet to binge on Key Lime pies. She is incredibly compulsive, it is difficult to know whether she is as mad as she is insane, and it is impossible to know how much of the madness or sanity is calculated.
What she most certainly is is interesting, and directors Shelly and Vincent Freemont keep the focus unerringly upon their subject throughout. A fascinating look into the life of a woman who was, and in many ways remains, on the cutting edge of both art and life.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
This interesting documentary of Warhol superstar Berlin (aka Brigid Polk) traces her life from the beginnings as the wealthy daughter of a Hearst employer and his socialite wife Honey. Berlin's life-long struggles with dieting and with her parents and siblings are detailed here. Clips from 'Bike Boy', 'The Chelsea Girls', and 'Imitation of Christ' are shown. Berlin's daily telephone conversations with Andy Warhol were taped by her and we're treated to several bits of these here. It is also interesting that she claims to have been filmed for three hours talking about vacuuming her George Washington apartment. We see her walk into the Chelsea Hotel's lobby. The weight issue with Berlin is monumental. Her cravings of key lime pie is sated only after two whole pies are consumed. She also has a 'c**k book' that is composed of her famous friends' renderings of the male organ. She talks about the impact of the Manson murders, Warhol's death, Max's Kansas City, and her annual chest x-rays. She is also renown for her 'tit paintings', which are created by smearing paint on her chest and pressing down on paper. Now 60 years of age, Berlin is in many ways the same rebellious person she was in her teens.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Forget the throwaway title, this documentary about the wayward, moneyed
Brigid Berlin is the equal of Terry Zwigoff's Crumb; a similarly
troubling yet funny biography.
Berlin is astonishing in her obsessiveness and her audacity. She manages to convincingly take credit for many of Warhol's ideas, and demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of what it means to be a media construction whom no one actually knows (a la warhol). Her creative work ethic is a refutation of other artist/poseurs who want to avoid actual thought and/or effort.
Personal highlights in the film: Berlin's pained return to the Chelsea hotel and the bankruptcy of trying to revisit the past / The examination of a jam-packed apartment with fastidiously organized Polaroid pictures / The penis book / The tone-for-tone reperformance of lousy, bourgeois parenting lectures / And of course Brigid's failure to resist Key Lime pie, while representing (to her) a major personal failure, is the funniest thing in the whole movie. I was laughing till I hurt.
Berlin makes her difficult personality look like a great time, and the only reasonable way to proceed through the absurdities of western culture.
One of the best things about this film is that, unlike many of the
Warhol-superstar documentaries, the subject is still alive and
participates by actually being interviewed (instead of just archival
footage). It is a fascinating, funny, educational, and even touching
portrait of one of the lesser known but most fabulous personalities to
emerge from the New York scene.
In addition to the interviews with Brigid herself, there are some other great current interviews plus the requisite archival footage. I have added this to my collection along with the better known documentaries on Edie, Nico, and of course Warhol himself, plus some of the original films (such as Chelsea Girls).
One of the many amazing documentaries charting the rise & fall of the satellites in the Warhol constellation ("Edie", "Nico Icon" etc.)This creepily voyeuristic - yet fascinating - film charts Berlin from overweight, unhappy, heiress to spaced-out Warhol "superstar" to aged, compulsive dieter. Blessed (or cursed) with a photographic memory, she relishes the compulsively non-stop retelling of her life as a kind of sordid cleansing (her monologues were used verbatim for the Warhol book "A to B & Back Again" -but really written by Bob Colacello. Be amazed as this elegant New York lady displays her famous "Cock Book" , relives her "tit paintings", opens her cupboards & drawers (where EVERYTHING is labelled !!) & watch her descend into sin by eating Key Lime Pie! (her dream food - her pie in the sky)Food has now replaced drugs as her ultimate taboo. The emotional roller-coaster she goes through is devastating to watch. Warhol often made "friends" with these wounded heiresses, while shamelessly exploiting their eccentricities and vanities for his films and personal entertainment. In the end this is a strangely triumphant story, as she struggles to maintain her personal equilibrium. A must-see.
This is an amazing documentary on a truly unique woman, and I purchased this immediately upon its original release on VHS. Many people may label her as "eccentric", "odd" and "rebellious", and while she has been all of these things, she strikes me most as being INTELLIGENT..in fact probably TOO intelligent compared to most people. What's interesting is to see the contrast between the Brigid of the '60s/'70s and the Brigid of today (I guess we really do become our parents after all!). I had the pleasure of meeting Miss Berlin in person at a reading she gave in NYC in April 2007. There, she autographed a piece of Warhol memorabilia for me. I was in heaven for a week! Soon after this show, I bought the DVD version which has about 20 minutes of deleted scenes, all of which are hilarious. I would have given "Pie In The Sky" 10 stars, but I feel it could have been longer.
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