The Velvet Underground by Todd Haynes [8/10]

In theory, I’m the right age to have been influenced, as have so many, by the Velvet Underground, but my rebelliousness stopped shy of this iconic band. The Velvet Underground were very much Lou Reed’s vehicle of expression, but he was balanced, in the first incarnation of the band, by the inimitable John Cale, and by Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker. I spent half a decade reading of the influence of the band upon artists and groups I adored. Now Todd Haynes, uncompromising filmmaker extraordinaire, has put together a biopic documentary of sorts: “The Velvet Underground.” Haynes has chosen to let the band and contemporary talking heads speak for themselves, via interviews and wonderfully evocative concert clips. Visually, he creates arresting montages and segues, and the end result is a propulsive narrative that forces the viewer to interpret on the go. The Andy Warhol era (he sponsored them for a while) is especially fascinating. Rock and roll, at least in my day, was meant to be revolutionary, dismissive of the old and established, and The Velvet Underground, as a film, certainly lives up that ambit claim.

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