The Long and the Short of It
The expansive Cinematexas short film festival
Andy Warhol's Vinyl, made in 1965, was the first filmed version of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, and it opens with a shot so powerful Stanley Kubrick would later ape it in his 1971 remake: Surrounded by his cronies, our (anti)hero gazes directly into the camera, his face wearing an expression of blank, thuggish entitlement. But there the similarities end: When Warhol's camera zooms back, it frames the shot that will compose most of this black-and-white, three-take film. Though Warhol keeps it emphatically simple, this is no Sleep-style minimalist snoozer; rather, it's a rough-trade recasting of Burgess' novel -- less a Kubrickian morality tale than a rapturously erotic paean to torture and domination, with Warhol constantly reminding us that this is a movie (as if his nonexistent budget makes us need any reminding). Boasting stagy blocking, bored on-camera extras, and a hungover Gerard Malanga dancing furiously -- and twice in a row -- to Martha Reeves' "Nowhere to Run," Vinyl is alternately hilarious and chilling, and what's most disturbing is that it's difficult to discern what percentage of either is intentional. When it works, though, it's trashy and stunning, and Vinyl's script, in particular (by Ronald Tavel), is a masterpiece of raw, pulpy poetry.
Vinyl shows Friday, Sept. 21, at the Texas Union Theater at 10pm. CinemaTexas will also screen Warhol's My Hustler -- a film documenting the beachside advice given to a younger hustler by an older one -- on Saturday, Sept. 22, 9:30pm, at the Texas Union Theater.