Director Todd Haynes’ first foray into documentary filmmaking, The Velvet Underground, screened on the Cannes movie pageant on Wednesday. It bought rave evaluations. And that bodes effectively for the music doc’s debut on Apple TV+ and in theaters on October 15, a launch date Deadline reported earlier in the present day.
The Velvet Underground: rise of a cultural icon
The movie tells the story of the avant-garde rock band‘s rise to cultural affect. Established in New York Metropolis within the mid-Sixties, The Velvet Underground performed below that identify solely till 1973, with a couple of personnel adjustments within the combine. The important band consisted of frontman and guitarist Lou Reed, classically skilled multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker.
However the group’s affect by no means actually got here to an finish.
That’s in no small half to the involvement and affect of legendary pop artist Andy Warhol. He joined the group as supervisor in 1966, making it the home band of his New York artwork collective and studio The Manufacturing unit and the touring multimedia present Exploding Plastic Inevitable in 1966-’67. The band would typically play sonically adventurous and discordant music with Warhol movies displaying within the background.
Warhol additionally spurred the band’s affiliation with the German-born signer Nico. He urged she sing of their first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.
The band by no means noticed a lot industrial success, and even essential success within the early days. You may say it was manner too bizarre for the mainstream, with its discordant and droning sounds and sexually suggestive lyrics. But it surely stays some of the influential and lauded bands in rock historical past.
As music producer Brian Eno is famously quoted as saying, “The primary Velvet Underground album solely bought 10,000 copies, however everybody who purchased it shaped a band.”
Haynes’ movie captures the band and its context
The documentary options interviews with key gamers in and round The Velvet Underground, mixed with a trove of never-before-seen performances and a group of recordings, Warhol movies and different experimental artwork.
“This can be a nice documentary about people who find themselves critical about music and critical additionally about artwork, and what it means to stay as an artist,” wrote Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian.
Critics appear impressed by the movie’s creative construction, its intensive use of a split-screen and its immersion of the viewers right into a well-captured world of artwork, music and cultural ferment of one other time.
“Making ingenious use of split-screen, experimental montage and densely layered photographs and sound over two fabulously entertaining hours, Haynes places his distinctive stamp on the fabric whereas crafting a piece that would nearly have come from the identical inventive explosion it celebrates,” wrote David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter.
Haynes has now directed 9 movies, together with Darkish Waters in 2019 and Carol in 2015. Two of his earlier works may need foreshadowed this one, delving into musical themes. They’re 1998’s Velvet Goldmine, in regards to the lifetime of a fictional glam-rocker based mostly on David Bowie, and 2007’s I’m Not There, a musical drama impressed by the life and music of Bob Dylan.
Not with out faults
Critics appear to agree The Velvet Underground is kind of an accomplishment, although not and not using a few faults.
“The place maybe it falls down is on the extraordinary, gossipy sense of how precisely the band members might have fallen out so badly, and the way painful that certainly should have been,” wrote The Guardian‘s Bradshaw, who additionally questioning the movie’s glossing over of sexual issues, together with Reed’s sexuality.
The movie’s triumph appears to be in capturing the spirt of the band, although not each minute of the movie reveals the identical fireplace.
“At its finest, Haynes’ movie is neither a dry accounting of who the Velvets have been nor a heady evocation of their work; it’s a film in regards to the fires these folks set inside one another and the way they unfold to anybody else who was burning and gave them the identical permission to push again towards expectations,” wrote David Erhlich in IndieWire.
However, he added, “there are drained expository sketches towards the tip” alongside the traces of “sad bands” all seeming to interrupt up in the identical manner.