I Shot Andy Warhol: ‘vlbrant, funny and wryly sympathetic’
BIOPIC I Factory, Warhol’s studio and the
| SHOT ANDY WARHOL
Valerie Solanas is not an obvious candidate for a biopic, a genre that is usually concerned with ‘great men’. A footnote in feminist history, she’s remembered as the deranged lesbian who wrote the SCllM Manifesto (Society for Cutting llp Men) and attempted to assassinate Andy Warhol. When she died in a San Francisco welfare hotel in 1988, her body wasn’t discovered for a week. Director Mary llarron, however, has produced a vibrant, funny, scabrous and wrny sympathetic film portrait of her subject, which displays a documentary-maker’s attention to detail and remarkable imaginative verve in re-creating the decadence and naivety, glitter and sleaze of New York’s 60s bohemian underground. It’s there we meet Solanas, turning tricks, panhandling, selling conversation for money and trying to gain the patronage of Andy Warhol.
playpen for his entourage but, too
weird even for this environment, she is-
excommunicated by the Pope of Pop Art. Cripped by a mounting paranoia after Warhol shows no interest in producing her play Up Your Ass, she returns to The Factory with a .32 automatic in a paper bag and shoots him point blank.
llarron employs a battery of film techniques to tell this story: flickering Super-8 for flashbacks to Solanas’s childhood, furious jump cuts for the aftermath of the shooting, crudely lit flat photography for the sex scenes. The film’s energy flags towards the end, but Lili Taylor’s astonishing performance as Solanas pulls it through. Looking androgynous, at times even feral, she conveys the SCUM queen’s anger, fierce intelligence and dead-pan, subversive wit, as well as her vulnerability and mental torment. (Jason Best) I Shot Andy Warhol (18) (Mary llarron, (IS/UK, 1995) till Taylor, Jared Ilarris, Stephen Dorff. 103 mins. From Fri 29
She becomes a Minor “8098"”! at The | Nov. Glasgow: GFT. Edinburgh: Cameo.
THE LAST OF THE HIGH KINGS
lt’s Dublin, the summer of 1977. Punk is happening somewhere else, Thin Lizzy bestride the charts in leather breeks, but most of teenager Frankie’s friends are still in shock at the death of Elvis. Frankie himself (Jared Leto, in a career-launching turn) feels an approaching sense of doom as the exam results loom ever closer. Another summer with nothing to do, while the local girls seem as unobtainable as ever, his actor da (co-producer Gabriel Byrne) remains a mere fleeting presence, and his ma’s insistence (Catherine D’llara, of Ilome Alone 'fame, surprisingly good) that he’s descended from ‘the High Kings of lreland’ isn’t exactly what he wants to heaL
Well, yes, it’s another rites of passage movie, and, as usual, thev’re
a shilling for a baker’s dozen. This one though, is among the best of them, because it’s so certain of its territory and sharp-witted with it. Of course, our Frankie learns about the ways of the world within these frames, but we pick up something too, a vision of lreland far closer to the truth than just so many theme pubs and hopelessly romanticised beer adverts.
Here, the fashions are suitably lethal, bigotry and division an insistent undertow, the self-aggrandising Gaelic mythology of yore rings hollow, and the political system - as represented by Colm Meaney’s truly slimy local MP - oiled by the greasing of palms and favour. Add to this delightful cameos from cabbie Stephen flea and visiting American cousin Christina Bicci, and you’ve got a real sleeper. Don’t miss this wee jewel. (Trevor Johnston)
The Last of The lligh Kings (15) (David Keating, Ireland, 1996) Jared leto, Gabriel Byme, Catherine O’Hara. 104 mins. From Fri 6 Dec. limited general
The Last Of The lllgh ltings: ‘certaln of its territory’
Amerlcan Buffalo: ‘worth It for the performances’
Playwright David Mamet has singlehandedly inspired a younger generation of actors to believe that Method Acting consists solely of chucking the furniture around while pulling funny faces and swearing a lot. There’s a fair bit of that from Dustin Hoffman in director Michael Corrente’s big-screen version of Mamet’s first stage play which, like Glengarry Glen Ross before it, sticks so close to its theatrical roots, it barely acknowledges its new cinematic form at all.
NYPD Blue veteran Dennis Franz plays Donny, down-at-heel proprietor of a low-rent junk/antique shop, who takes neighbourhood urchin Bobby under his wing to steal the rare coin that Donny sees as his passport to the big time. Enter ‘Teach’ (Hoffman), another local loser who gets wind of the job and talks Don into ousting
Bobby in favour of himself. No one makes it out the door though, and by the end Don’s an impotent shambles, having betrayed not only Bobby but every scrap of integrity he ever had. With its cast of three doing little but talk shop for 90 minutes, American Buffalo might sound dull, but there’s plenty of action to be had via Mamet’s rapid-fire dialogue, the momentum of which builds to such a frenetic level between the two main characters that you’re left breathless iust trying to keep up with the exchanges. It’s worth it for the performances - Franz’s understatement counterpointlng Hoffman’s bombast - though whether this text book Greek tragedy dragged into the slums is of much interest to anyone aside from Mamet aficionados is doubtful. (lleil Cooper) American Buffalo (15) (Michael Gorrente, (IS/(Ill, 1995) Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Franz, Sean Nelson. 87mins. From Fri 6: Edinburgh
i Filmhouse. From Fri 20: Glasgow: GFTZ
BROTHERS IN TROUBLE
Brothers In Trouble: ‘over-eggs the pudding’
Smuggled into Britain in a vegetable crate. Pakistani Amir (Pavan Malhotra) ﬁnds himself holed up with seventeen of his equally illegal brethren from the sub-continent. Shovelling sheep-shit by day at a Northern woollen mill and freezing by night. all they have to look forward to each Sunday is a Hindi film. a prostitute and a weekly payment to the shady immigration ‘agent'.
Udayan Prasad‘s ﬁlm — adapted by producer Robert Buckler from Abdullah Hussein‘s semi- autobiographical novel - offers an undeniably fascinating glimpse into a corner of British cultural history too often forgotten. Yet if the filmmakers have lit upon arresting material. finding the proper dramatic focus for it seems to have been less easy.
Angeline Ball gives a prizefighter‘s performance as the vivacious Irish waif taken in off the streets by ()m Puri‘s commanding head of the packed household. but her arrival and the subsequent cluster of plot complications bring an extraneous melodramatic gloss to a scenario that might have prospered better without it.
Obviously. we're to expect the men's Muslim rectitude in confrontation with the loosening morals of their adopted land. but sex. death and madness are surely over-egging the pudding, while a bathetic ' coda only makes matters worse. A shame really. given the committed performances and suitably grimy surroundings. BBC Films should also answer the conundrum why their ﬁrst foray into theatrical production takes place mainly within the confines of a single terraced house. (Trevor Johnston)
Brothers In Trouble (I 5 ) ( Udayan Prusurl, UK.
I 995) Ont Purl, Angeline Bull. Pai'un Mal/tuna. [02 mins. Mon 9—Wed I I. Edinburgh: F lint/muse.
24 The La. 29 Nov-l2 Dcc l996