“Tavel doesn’t ring quite like Edie or Nico or Paul America, but one could say that the multitalented playwright gave Warhol his voice,” writes Jason Jude Chan in Flavorpill. Anthology Film Archives explores the groundbreaking collaborations between the two artists in the retrospective “Beyond the Absurd: Ronald Tavel & Andy Warhol,” December 10-17.
“Tavel, who died in May at 72 and gave the theater of the ridiculous its name, is perhaps best known as a playwright,” writes the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis. “Although his contributions to the Warhol film catalog are modest in number (12 produced and 3 unproduced screenplays), they include important titles like ‘Vinyl’ (1965) and ‘The Chelsea Girls’ (1966)… In the years since Warhol’s death in 1987, these films have begun to resurface, allowing new generations of filmgoers to experience and claim them for their historical moment. Although the films tend to be situated within the context of avant-garde or gay cinema (or both), they constitute an important if often submerged part of our larger film history (where film, alas, usually means narrative film). This ghettoizing not only misrepresents their larger cultural impact, as part of an emergent (out) gay culture, it also flattens our understanding of how dominant cinematic production both feeds, and feeds on, alternative practices: Before ‘Midnight Cowboy’ shook up the mainstream in 1969 with fictional representations of gay life, Warhol was rocking increasing numbers of cinemagoers with representations of real gay men.”
The Village Voice’s J. Hoberman discusses the series’ offerings, including “‘Horse’ (1965), featuring a living equine prop among the Factory regulars, and the Edie Sedgwick vehicle ‘Kitchen’ (1965), a ‘naturalistic’ sitcom apparently filmed in the star’s Upper East Side efficiency apartment. Although part of the ensemble, Edie steals the rarely screened ‘Space’ (1965), an avant-garde experiment meant to involve readings from eight unrelated Tavel scripts—a plan soon dropped in favor of more spontaneous, regressive behavior. Immediately expressing her boredom, Sedgwick takes charge. She chats with a friend, performs her magnetic sitting Frug, baits the bewildered guest superstar, folk singer Eric Andersen, and, without ever moving an inch from her strategic position beside an enormous wall mirror, dominates the crowded set, which hilariously collapses moments before the camera runs out of film.”
Also kicking off tomorrow is a nine-film tribute to Italian director Dino Risi at MoMA. The Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton on the 1962 comedy “Il sorpasso,” which screens December 10 and 16: “The model for a dozen Discover America road trips, from New Hollywood to Alexander Payne, Risi’s film is also the most unassuming sort of masterpiece.”