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Warhol Flicks

The Filmgoer

By John G. Short

IN THE same way that other little boys wanted to be George Plimpton or Bob Dylan, there have been several times when I wished I could be Andy Warhol when I grew up. Not only did he make it big in New York's arty circles, but he got to use his name to do an exciting experimentation with every medium he could touch. Everything he does (exhibiting six huge self-portraits at Expo 67, or dying his hair silver, or even sending someone who looks like his twin to do a lecture tour for him) is designed to test our sensibilities, change our perspectives, put us on. Pop Art (one of Warhol's babies) may be dead, but the girl next to me at Winthrop House still showed up in the standard day-glo pink plastic skirt offset by a pale blue paisley blouse and the usual tall black boots.

The outstanding common denominator of the films the Festival of the Arts people at Winthrop House chose to show was that they were suffocatingly dull. Warhol once made a movie called Sleep (it wasn't shown Saturday, but the program told us it and Blow Job are brothers of his "early period"). Sleep is shot, with a camera that never moves, of one person sleeping. It is eight hours long. When Warhol was once asked how he could stand to film such inaction for so long, he replied he couldn't. He shot twenty minutes and then ran it over and over until eight hours were up.

Warhol, it seems, was filming Blow Job for its full half hour. The film's one shot is from a camera locked on its tripod and zoomed in to the face of a man the collar of whose leather jacket is turned up and who, we are led to believe by the title, is getting a blow job. There is no sound.

WARHOL is reinterpreting the whole idea of the motion picture medium. The result is nothing for theatre audiences, who, in this case, laughed nervously, twittered, yawned, and then finally walked out. Maybe the medium would find its message in coffee houses where people don't have much to look at while they talk or maybe in the bathroom for when you're brushing your teeth. The film needs a more participatory environment.

To call a movie dull implies that it needs much more editing and more action-filled scenes. But that isn't Warhol's medium. He usse the camera as an instrument to record a scene. Blow Job isn't a documentary, a film that represents a real event with a variety of edited shots which give an accurate sense of what went on. Warhol's camera is part of the scene; and his films are what went on before that camera during a limited space of time.

Warhol's medium is more real than documentary. And to have cut Blow Job would have weakened the feeling for what was happening in the actor's face and to have added more action would have confused the study. It may be too much for the theatre audience to take, but it is doing something the camera's never done before.

Screen Test Mario Montez is the interview of a transvestite who wants to play a 14-year-old gypsy girl in a cheap reenactment of The Hunehback of Notre Dame. Again one shot by the camera, this time of Mario's out-of-focus head, and this time with sound. It takes around an hour and a half to end itself with conversation that's just incredibly obscene.

Camp was a home movie of some of Warhol's friends that was so dull that even the actors in the backround weren't interested with what was going on, and we had to walk out.

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