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Todd Haynes' Velvet Underground Documentary

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  • Todd Haynes' Velvet Underground Documentary

    I pretty much don't care about anything he's done post-[SAFE] but VU are one of my favorite bands so I'll watch this no matter what, plus the planned approach seems interesting enough.

  • #2
    THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (2021) - Todd Haynes' artful documentary on the pioneering art rock band fronted by Lou Reed and John Cale takes almost 40 minutes before Reed and Cale even meet. Haynes doesn't use narration but he builds his movie with ample footage from the time period. He creatively makes the link between the avant-garde and the “underground” which sets the stage for the band to flourish.
    By hooking up with Andy Warhol and becoming his 'house band', the Velvet Underground not only got attention, but it also guaranteed that film and still photography would document their every move. They never sold many records at the time, but their influence was profound.
    The interview subjects range from John Waters to Warhol scenesters like Mary Woronov, to go along with the generous archive footage. It paints a vivid picture of the rise and premature fall of the group (Co-founder John Cale only appeared on the first two albums; singer Nico only on their debut). Reed, of course, became a rock icon as a solo artist, but, the band's impact stands apart as a singular achievement, something which Haynes captures brilliantly.

    It's on Apple TV


    • #3
      this is an amazing documentary. The wealth of vintage photographs and footage is excellent.


      • #4
        Yeah its a great combination of imagery and sound, appropriately enough.


        • #5
          Seeing this doc has been my only post-pandemic trip to the cinema thus far, and yes, it's fantastic basically - a beautifully assembled combo of sound and image, and about as comprehensive an overview of the VU's formation and the Warhol/EPI years as could possibly be wished for. The way Haynes manages to use the (extremely limited) film footage which exists of the band, the insights into Lou Reed's, uh, shall we say 'complicated' personality & sexuality, Cale's first-hand accounts of how things went down, Mary Woronov's memories of touring with the EPI - all of this is gold.

          As an obsessive VU nerd, there was obviously a whole bunch of missing stuff which irked me - almost no mention of Angus Maclise, very skimpy coverage of the post-Cale 'pop' years, not half as much detail as I would have liked to have seen on how the music was actually played/recorded.... but I realise you can't fit EVERYTHING into a single, feature length documentary, and hey - that's what books are for. Within the scope of the material Haynes chose to concentrate on, he's done an absolutely brilliant job here, no question, and it's difficult to imagine anyone coming out this movie without immedaitely wanting to throw the VU's records on and/or learn more about them.