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Unearthing Warhol's Velvet Underground

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 2, 2010 5:20PM

poster via WilsonB
"Modern music begins with the Velvets," Lester Bangs once wrote, "and the implications and influence of what they did seem to go on forever." Any footage of the Velvet Underground in their prime should be considered of major interest; but footage shot and manipulated by their legendary "impresario" Andy Warhol can only be called priceless.

And that's exactly what Patrick Friel's White Light Cinema will be screening on Saturday, December 18 with The Velvet Underground in Boston, a 33-minute document of an August 1967 concert. MoMa describes it as featuring "a variety of filmmaking techniques - sudden in-and-out zooms, sweeping panning shots, in-camera edits that create single frame images and bursts of light like paparazzi flash bulbs going off - that mirror the kinesthetic experience of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, with its strobe lights, whip dancers, colorful slide shows, multi-screen projections, liberal use of amphetamines, and overpowering sound of The Velvet Underground."

Also on the program is a very obscure example of one of Warhol's "portraits," Face, which concentrates on Edie Sedgwick for its entire 66-minute running time, "thereby demonstrating that his most famous superstar had the ability to command an audience's attention while merely playing music, applying makeup and accessories, smoking marijuana, talking on the phone with a friend, and conversing with Chuck Wein, who, as usual, remains an elusive figure offscreen." (J.J. Murphy)

Shown together, these two newly revealed films offer a heady look at the mid-60's Warhol Factory.

This program screens Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 8:00pm at The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.); $7-10, sliding scale.