Monday, November 8, 2021

"Lou Reed & John Cale: Songs for Drella" (1990, Edward Lachman)



I had a great experience watching Songs for Drella when it had a limited 3-day-run at Film Forum in NYC with director/cinematographer Ed Lachman in attendance.

I'm a huge Andy Warhol fan, so hearing songs about him as "Drella" was totally my thing. The name is a mashup of Dracula and Cinderella and was coined by Warhol superstar Ondine. This was filmed three years after Warhol's death.

Lachman told the story of how he thought the footage from this film was lost, but he found it in his apartment during the pandemic. Also, years before, Lachman's first encounter with Lou Reed was insane as Reed kicked down Lachman's tripod while telling him to "Do it like Andy" (handheld). 

The rehearsals of Songs for Drella were shot. Lou Reed didn't want any cameras between him and the audience. Lachman notes that WE are the audience.

It gets a little meta. In "Style It Takes", Cale and Reed reference The Velvet Underground and another song says "John Cale" is "looking really great". 

"I Believe" is a chilling song about Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Andy Warhol. Lou Reed sings that he "would've pulled the switch on her" himself, although she had already died in 1988.

The film ends with "Hello It's Me", a touching goodbye to Andy with Lou Reed singing and John Cale on the violin. Some songs were filmed in color, but this was filmed in black and white. I was able to ask Lachman at the Q&A why he chose to do this. He had always wanted certain songs filmed in black and white. A lot of Andy's films were in black and white as well as the Hollywood films that Andy loved. 

Overall, it's worth checking out for fans of The Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, or cinematographer Ed Lachman, who shot most of Todd Haynes' films (including The Velvet Underground documentary). 

Vegan alert:
Andy called Lou a "rat" as referenced in the song: "Work"

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

False Positive (2021, John Lee)


“Welcome to the family.”

Hints of Swallow, Rosemary’s Baby, and Gaslight, it’s the movie that will terrify you, especially if you are a woman.

Gretchen Mol’s role as Nurse Dawn calls to mind Kirsten Dunst in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a way.

In the Q&A for Film Independent, director John Lee explained that the genre is psychological satire. What a relief! Before knowing that, I felt guilty/weird for laughing at some bits. Note that lead actress Ilana Glazer wrote the screenplay! Justin Theroux and Pierce Brosnan will forever haunt me, because of their performances in this film. 

 Rating: 7.5/10

Vegan alert:
-Boss orders tuna
-Roasted duck as an option at the restaurant 

Film Independent screener
Available to watch on Hulu

Sunday, January 31, 2021

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: "My Name is Pauli Murray" Review


My Name is Pauli Murray was a documentary that I wasn't going to miss when it played at Sundance 2021, because of the directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen's previous film, RBG. My Name is Pauli Murray ended up being my personal favorite of the festival as well. 

Pauli Murray fought for gender equality as a queer writer, lawyer, professor, and priest. Identifying as male, scholars and family held onto the she/her pronouns instead of embracing the he/his they/their pronouns that Pauli Murray identified to more closely. Their Aunt Pauline was the family member who got it the closest: referring to Pauli as her "boy-girl". At first, Pauli traveled under a male guise and said it was for protection, but later told doctors they appeared to be a woman but was really a man. 

Racially, Pauli was African-American, Irish, and Cherokee. In 1940, Pauli and friend Adelene McBean were arrested for not moving to the back of a Greyhound bus in Virginia. The documentary also covers how Harvard Law School rejected their application and due to racist hiring practices, they were forced to set up their own law firm. Pauli wanted to get out of the United States to escape the constant lynchings, teaching law school in Ghana until it was apparent that government was dictatorial. 

The documentary also cover their relationships with Peggy Holmes and Irene Barlow. After Barlow's death, Murray went to seminary, completely changing their career to become a priest.

Pauli Murray passed away on July 1, 1985 at the age of 74. Ahead of their time, they unfortunately weren't able to take the hormones they wanted and to live as the sex they identified as. However, their work lives on. Their story serves as a reminder that we are all complex human beings and we have to fight for what we think is right.

Vegan alert:
-Leather jacket
-Developed a tapeworm from eating cheap hamburgers