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Parent Issue
Month
May
Year
1997
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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[1995. Directed by Mary Harron. Cast: Lili Taylor, Jared Harris, Stephen Dorff. Orion Piet u resOrion Home Video. 103 mins.] iL m Ld There are three sorts of film performances: First, the performance that, if sufficiently iconic, can be labeled as star-making material; second, the award-winning performance that quite often defines the actor's career; and finally, the performance that's so intemalized and impassioned, it goes bey ond what could be reasonably expected. Lili Taylor's incendiary turn as playwright and social theorist Valerie Solanas in Shot Andy Warhol is so intense 'rt defies star ortype-casting. Taylor breathes a fiery passion into her performance that's so overwhelming at times she transcends what one customarily expects from film acting. Indeed, Taylor's portrayal of Solanas is so uncompromising and so relentless, she effortlessly dominates what might have otherwise been a better balanced film biography . Stilt, of the recent portraits of Andy Warhol we've been given recently, Mary Harron's Shot Andy Warhol seems the best interpreted insight of this often misunderstood modern master. As played by Jared Harris, Warhol's coolerthan-thou philosophy is definitely ripe f or caricature. Warhol intuitively understood through both his two-dimensional art and three-dimensional posturing that a little underplaying could go a long way in the right circumstance. His dedicated engendering of popular images - an aesthetic leading directly to the playfulness of today's post-modernism - is something that was only grudgingly acknowledged as art during his heyday. Warhol's blend of life as art - and art as ... well, little else - was as misunderstood then as it is now. Harron picks up on this peculiarly jaded and contradictory public persona by even-handedly exposing Warhol's private dweebness against his social lionization. Her film makes Warhol the ultimate mass media victim - through his fame; through his near-assassination; and, ultimately, through this film biography - by her shcewd dissection of what made him tick. But ratherthan teil his story from inside the worid of art - which is where some attempts, such as the recent, flawed Basquiat, have quite simply f ailed - she's wiselychosento give us a view of what this fame would have looked like from the inside out. V a I e r i e Solanas is the perfect foil for Warhol's supposed glamour and glitz. The commensurate outsider's insider, her slow descent into insanity is as persuasive as she was apparently psychopathically driven. Author of the celebrated radical polemic S.C.U.M. Manifestó - and the equally polemical feminist play, Up your Ass - Solanas' "Society for Cutting Up Men" was light-years beyond what the woman's liberation movement of the Swingin' 1 960s had in mind. Likewise, Warhol was both light-years anead (and paradoxically) light-years behind his own celebration of celebrity. Harron's shrewd depiction of Warhol's "Factory" and his intímate group's snub of the obsessed Solanas inextricably leads these two over-the-top characters towards their shared date with infamy. For as a contradictory proflígate and idealist, Andy Warhol was a victím waiting to be picked upon. Butthe various hangers-on crowding him in his lengthy fling with fame were no match for the martial looniness Solanas brought to the table. In the signal scène of the film, Warhol and Solanas sit together warily on acouch in his loft observing the lunacy taking place during one of the Factory's interminable all-night parties. Neither he nor she fit in comfortably with the pseudo-hipness of the scène ... and both know it. Yet of the two characters, Solanas was not in the least anesthetized. She willingly chose her countercultural marginalization and she used her marginal social status as a catalyst to vent her f rustration with the status quo. Bursting with rage and rejection, Taylor's Valerie Solanas gives us a sense of thefutilrtythis quite intelligent, but equally misplaced, writer must have feit. Shot Andy Warhol captures the hip pretensions and predictable f ol lies of the 1 960s NYC arts scène like a pointblank slug to the gut. It only requires Lili Taylor to deliver the goods like she was bom to play the part. She does. THE GODFATHER PART II [1974. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton. Paramount PicturesParamount Home Video. English, and Spanish and Italian with Engtish subtitles. 200 mins.] Francis Ford Coppola's masterwork may be among the rarest films ever produced . In a business where "Part Two" is supposed to trade on the familiarity of the already established product, The Godfather Part II broke nearly every rule in the movie handbook. For not only does it improve upon ts predecessor - a seemingly mpossible task to begin with - but it does so with a psychological depth that is more associated with the theater than with cinema. Indeed, in almost every way - except, perhaps, for the sheer exuberant thrill of old-fashioned Hollywood moviemaking - The Godfather Part II is superior to its antecedent. It is, in fact, such a remarkable piece of work, it made the long awaited third part of this cycle superfluous two decades later. The Godfather left Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) n control of his father's New York City criminal empire shortly after World War II. By the time Part II takes place in the late 1950s, Michael's obsession with consolidating the Corleone family's fortunes have destroyed his wife, Kay's (Diane Keaton) peace of mind; alienated his older surviving brother, Fredo (John Cázale), and sister, Connie (Talia Shire); and empowered his family's informally "adopted" counselor, Torn Hagen (Robert Duvall). The internecine soap opera warfare of the second generation Corleone family would probably have been enough to carry any subsequent installation of this saga. But Coppola easily exceeded the public's expectations by also telling Vito Corleone's (Robert De Niro) backstory. Crafting an intricate set of bookends to The Godfather, Coppola and author, Mario Puzo, made this latter story both a prequel and sequel to the original film. By repeatedly shifting his story's timeline over the course of a half-century - from the sun-drenched hills of tum-of-the-century Sicily to the debauched haunts of pre-Castro Havana and wildly extravagant Las Vegas - Coppola not only deepened the melodrama of The Godfather, he also hammered out a psychological analysis of this criminal mentality worthy of the name of tragedy. For not only has Michael Corleone got to contend with traitors in his criminal and immediate families in The Godfather Part II, he also has to contend with legitimating himself with the times of his era. And when viewed through the story of his father's silent passage through Ellis Island as an orphaned immigrant youth, it becomes readily apparent that the eider Corleone's apology in the first film that there hadn't been enough time in his life to allow Michael to become a Senator or Governor rings tragically true. Michael Corleone's story is the tale of a man of potentially great leadership f alling everso-short of himself ethically and morally. Perhaps as close as American film will ever come to unfolding the unyielding allure and hidden shadows of America's promise, The Godfather Part II stretches the bounds of popular narrative. Viewing the emotionally deadened Corleone sit passively at the conclusión of the film brings us as close to a backhanded coming of age as our cinema is ever likely to evoke. RATING KEY iL Acting O Cinematography Direction E Editing & Narrative Sound Special Effects Wien a symbof appears following a ífe, ( ímpfíes that the corresponding category s a strength of the movie.

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