Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Factory Girl

Year 9, Day 143 - 5/23/17 - Movie #2,638

BEFORE: I picked this one up a few months back, when I was looking for something to pair with "Basquiat" on a DVD.  I remembered that David Bowie played Warhol in that other film, so Warhol appeared on both films as a character.  That will be true of tomorrow's film also.

Beth Grant carries over from "Jackie", where she played Lady Bird Johnson, and tonight she plays Andy Warhol's mother.  This prevents me from relying on the link between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen....

THE PLOT: The rise and fall of socialite Edie Sedgwick, concentrating on her relationships with Andy Warhol and a folk singer.

AFTER: What I've learned is that too many biopics can affect your judgment - you start to feel like everyone's in a long, slow downward spiral from the moment they're born, and that nothing's ever going to end well.  It's not a great mental state to live in.  Non-biopic Hollywood movies, on the other hand, tend to have unrealistic happy endings, so I guess there's just no middle ground. Which brings me to the tragedy of Edie Sedgwick.

She came from one of those very rich Massachusetts families that traced its lineage back to colonial America of the 1600's.  But by the time of the 1950's and 1960's, that family seemed pretty messed up, at least according to this film's allegations of Edie growing up isolated, troubled, in and out of various institutions, and developing eating disorders.  Her father, Fuzzy, was noted for carrying on many affairs, and she had a couple brothers that were also psychologically messed up, at least one of whom committed suicide.

Coming out of the Cambridge, MA art scene, she moved to New York City to become a model - because those girls have it all together, right? - and then fell in with the art scene, started taking drugs and partying, and this led to meeting Andy Warhol and becoming something like his muse as he was trying to conquer the world of making movies with his studio, the Factory.

The folk singer character, listed in the credits as "musician", is obviously supposed to be based on Bob Dylan, from the way he plays the guitar and harmonica simultaneously, right down to his speech patterns.  There's sort of a love triangle suggested by this film, but since Wikipedia tells me that Bob Dylan famously denied a romantic relationship with Sedgwick, my guess is that the filmmakers played this one very cagey, and never allowed the name "Bob Dylan" to be spoken in this film - and that's only weird when you have a character on screen that no one ever calls by name.  So it's a faux Dylan, but come on, it's supposed to be Dylan.

Dylan went on to marry someone else, and Edie got harder into the drug scene, and was paid very little by Warhol, so she felt betrayed - but the good news was that this led her to get out of New York City and into rehab in California.  At least she got herself clean for about a year before the end.

I've never really been able to get a handle on Andy Warhol - what was his deal?  According to this film, he was a Gay Catholic and that sure sounds like a contradiction in terms, no?  Was he just filled with self-loathing, like many religious people?  Maybe there are many people who are living contradictions - like at my high-school reunion late last year, I was talking with a woman that I did not remember, probably because we weren't in the same classes or traveled in different social circles during school.  She played on the basketball team, and was now out and proud, married to a woman, but she knew my father from church (my parents do a lot of work for the church) so therefore I knew she was Catholic, and so I couldn't quite figure her out.  How can someone practice a religion that claims that their whole lifestyle is sinful?  Why try to be a member of club that doesn't want you to join?

Anyway, back to Warhol the filmmaker. I really blame the Beatles - ever since they hit big, everybody who's famous for one thing suddenly also had to be in movies, write a book, be in a cartoon series, have a fashion line, and such.  Warhol became known as an artist, what right did he have to go out and make terrible movies?  Because it was the 1960's and you had to be seen to be famous - 40 years later, everybody would say that's just part of having a brand, selling yourself as a lifestyle, which is all the rage these days.  Connect the dots, and before long you've got Gwyneth Paltrow selling useless products that catch on because they're "organic" and therefore trend among the hipsters.

I think that there's probably a great film that will be made someday about Warhol, something akin to that film about Truman Capote - which is my way of saying that I'm not convinced this one is it.

Also starring Sienna Miller (last seen in "Burnt"), Guy Pearce (last seen in "The Count of Monte Cristo"), Hayden Christensen, Jimmy Fallon (last seen in "Ted 2"), Jack Huston (last seen in "Hail, Caesar!"), Admin Amiri (last seen in "The Wrestler"), Tara Summers (last seen in "Alfie" (2004)), Mena Suvari (last seen in "Slums of Beverly Hills"), Shawn Hatosy (last seen in "The Faculty"), James Naughton (last seen in "The Devil Wears Prada"), Edward Herrmann (last seen in "Reds"), Illeana Douglas (last seen in "Hello Again"), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (last seen in "The Hollars"), Johnny Whitworth, Brian Bell, Patrick Wilson, Meredith Ostrom, Samantha Maloney, with cameos from Don Novello, Colleen Camp (last seen in "Joy"), George Plimpton (last seen in "The Bonfire of the Vanities"), Cary Elwes (last seen in "Ella Enchanted"), Sally Kirkland (last heard in "Nerdland"), Mary-Kate Olsen.

RATING: 4 out of 10 gay cowboys

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