“Everybody tastes different. But they all taste pretty good.” – Eric

Warhol’s first national hit, breaking outside the New York underground scene – after the widely-discussed but barely-seen sex/art films and before further success with the Flesh/Trash/Heat movies then franchising his name out to movies like Dracula and Bad on which he exec-produced.

Two 16mm projections side-by-side, Zaireeka-like (or perhaps Napoleon-like). Found the reel numbers/titles online along with projection instructions. Think I found out why it ran longer at the High than the listed runtime. The reels were supposed to overlap more, with no long periods of black on one side waiting for its neighbor to run out. As well as shorter, it would’ve been more interesting without all the black, providing new juxtapositions.

Reel #1, right – Nico In Kitchen
B/W, sound for the first few minutes. Nico (some years after La Dolce Vita) gives herself a haircut in the kitchen, drinks “jungle juice.” Eric Emerson (of Heat and Lonesome Cowboys) and Nico’s son are hanging around. Some camera movement here, but not much in the other reels until the halfway point.

Reel #2, left – Father Ondine & Ingrid
“Pope” Ondine (a Factory speed freak) has shoved two chairs together, a woman (Ingrid Superstar) comes in for “confession.” She never quite takes his title seriously – he asks her questions about her boyfriend then berates her for being a lesbian.

Reel #3, right – Brigid Holds Court
Overweight drug dealer “The Duchess” (Brigid Berlin, who had small parts in a couple John Waters films) talks to another girl, answers the phone.

Reel #4, left – Boys In Bed
Exactly that, slight nudity but no real action, some guys (Ed and Patrick) having a conversation I guess, but no sound.

Reel #5, right – Hanoi Hannah
A girl who kinda looks like a boy (Mary Woronov, bewigged wife in House of the Devil, also in Eating Raoul, Death Race 2000) hangs out in a room with a couple other girls, somewhat bullying and tormenting them. One mostly stays on the floor under the sink. This (and presumably #6) was one of the pre-scripted segments.

Reel #6, left – More Hanoi Hannah and Guests
Same room/cast as on the right, but at a different time and without sound.

Reel #7, right – Mario Sings Two Songs
More of the same guys in bed as #4, with some “female” visitors this time (Mario “Banana” Montez, also of Flaming Creatures) and less nudity.

Reel #8, left – Marie Menken
The first color segment. A visiting mother (Menken, director of Go! Go! Go!) wielding a whip is berating her son (Gerard Malanga of Vinyl) over his treatment of his girlfriend – because the girl (Woronov again, sharply dressed in a white shirt and tie) is sitting in the other bed barely moving and never speaking. Mother and son’s conversation get more shrill until they’re lost in the bad sound recording and the Velvet Underground music (droning ambience), but the camera is very active, scanning back and forth the room.

Reel #9, right – Eric Says All
The source of some lyrics in the Sonic Youth song. Eric Emerson stands there tripping, saying whatever’s on his mind, semi-stripteasing. Nice red lighting, shifting about.

Reel #10, left – Color Lights on Cast
Eric and others stand around, talk (no sound) while colored lights scan over them. They seem to be watching the other Eric to their right.

Reel #11, right – Pope Ondine
The Pope again. This time he physically attacks the girl talking with him (Ronna Page), then tries to justify himself, then kills time waiting for the film to run out, asking an offscreen Paul Morrissey if he can leave early.

Reel #12, left – Nico Crying
Nico silently cries, then just looks into space, while great colored light patterns play over her face.

G. Morris:

The idea behind the project was to film various Factory denizens doing what they did best: prattling, prancing, fondling each other, shooting up, screaming, applying makeup, confessing secrets, smacking and upbraiding each other.

Drugs, especially methedrine, were a crucial component of this crowd, and they’re everywhere in The Chelsea Girls. Both Ondine and Brigid Polk shoot up in their sequences, with Ondine doing so ritualistically, while Brigid unceremoniously sticks a needle through her blue jeans.

I don’t get the movie, or Warhol or his “superstars” (the label given to the drug-addled friends he regularly cast in films). But I guess I can see its value as a unique document of the Warhol scene that was inexplicably fascinating people throughout the 1960’s. Probably best expressed by Omar Diop below:

Whether you consider Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls to be fiction or document, it is an event, a rupture in the history of the cinema and an attack on the morality implicit in the image. Chelsea Girls is a monster born in the mind of a dilettante who puts the technical extremism of a Godard to the service of a moral metaphysics of a de Sade. An infernal machine puts on the screen a universe which only obeys its own laws.

A solid movie, somewhat hopeless and dusty and dreary, but nicely told through its visuals and not overly weepy in tone. I give you the oft-quoted official synopsis: “Mocktar, a Nigerien peasant, comes looking for work in Essakane, a dusty gold mine in Northeast Burkina Faso, Africa, where he hopes to forget the past that haunts him. In Essakane, he quickly finds out, the gold rush ended twenty years before, and the inhabitants of this wasteland and strange timelessness manage to exist simply from force of habit. The beautiful Coumba, however, is still courageously struggling to raise her daughter after the death of her family. Mocktar will soon be fighting not only to survive, but also to provide a better future for this mother and her child.”

Opens with a shot of the dusty desert, the mine entrances invisible beneath the dunes, then one by one the miners start appearing from the ground. Closes with the revese of that shot as they go back into the mines. Throughout, when we’re at the entrances to the mines, the camera is always in the same couple of positions, giving a familiarity to the faceless desert. Rasmane Ouedraogo (from Tilai and Moolaadé), recognizable with his short, white beard, is the elder guru miner, who becomes the mine owner at the end when the old owner, a stern but somewhat fair (profit sharing!) fat man, decides to retire, only to be killed for his money on his way out of town. Our hero is kind of a blank, less memorable than the characters and situations around him.


Salgues’ screenplay is perfectly crafted in the Western tradition, while Crystel Fournier’s striking cinematography connects the film to a broad African vision. Viewers have a lot of time to admire her dazzling desert panoramas, as there is almost no narrative motor to underwrite the visuals. … Mathieu Vanasse and Jean Massicotte’s music track matches the rest of the film in being extremely refined. The French and Canadian post-prod work is top quality. Improbably, all dialogue is in very formal French.

The rarest thing: a smart, funny satire that actually works. Europe is falling into chaos with raging unemployment, while in the “United States of Africa” the people prosper. Immigration is strictly controlled, so our young white protagonist lovers, despite their education and training (teacher and engineer, I think), can’t get meaningful work in Africa. They try it anyway, paying a smuggler to fly them into Africa to take their chances. They’re caught and quite humanely imprisoned in a high-tech facility. She (Pauline: Charlotte Vermeil) takes a job as a domestic servant to Modibo Koudossou (played by the director), a tolerant pro-immigration-reform politician, while he (Olivier: Stéphane Roux, voice of the narrator in Ratatouille) escapes and goes on the run, taken in by a group of poor whites who live in the housing projects.

Meanwhile, Modibo’s rival politician Yokossi (Emile Abossolo M’bo: Ezra, Night On Earth) has got the crooked police chief (Eriq Ebouaney, star of Lumumba, also in Femme Fatale, Kingdom of Heaven, 35 Shots of Rum) gunning for Modibo. Yes, there are crooked cops even in a utopian African film. Modibo doesn’t get to pass his reform bill, but at least he escapes assassination and our lovable white kids help defeat the bad cop. Reunited, Olivier offers Pauline the chance to return home to Europe in shame and poverty with him, but she elects to stay and marry noble Modibo, who has fallen for her, instead. Olivier, though proven good with electronics, was always kind of a douche so this is a happy ending.

Movie is definitely cheap-looking, but not The President Has AIDS-cheap, a respectable made-for-TV-looking cheap. The writing is full of fun satirical tidbits and race-reversal jokes that delighted the High audience. Katy liked it too, and we can’t account for the 4/10 rating on the IMDB…

Set near the Three Gorges dam in east-central China (as previously seen in Manufactured Landscapes). Girl from dirt-poor family and relatively privileged boy hire on to a tourist cruise line. With better knowledge of English, he gets to interact with the customers, while she’s tucked away washing dishes (but in the end, she gets to keep working to support her family, and he is fired for being an overconfident kiss-up). Meanwhile, her family watches their shack and farmland slowly sink as the river rises, finally having to relocate into an apartment on higher ground.

Liked it a bunch, glad I got to see at the High instead of on video. Opens and closes with dramatic dam shots, some real good landscape stuff throughout.

Wow, a helluva good movie, with a lousy presentation by The Pan-African Film Festival at The High. Maybe they should’ve taken a look at the shoddy sub-VHS-quality videorecording they had before making people pay $8 each for a public screening of it.

After liking Burnett’s Killer of Sheep very much, but his shorts and his My Brother’s Wedding not so much, I was kind of anxious about this one, so chose to see it over Sembene’s Ceddo. Currently Anger isn’t out on video, but the moment it’s released, that decision will have been a mistake. Anyway.

Father of the family is named Gideon (heh). Old family friend Harry shows up one day, and suddenly Gideon falls ill and his younger son is threatening to follow in Harry’s immoral footsteps, when suddenly, thanks to some spilled marbles (preceded by Gid’s wife taking a stand against Harry), all is set right again.

Then comes the part that Ebert hated… Harry dies ten minutes before the movie ends, and the rest of the time is spent gradually reassembling the family, talking over what’s happened, and waiting (over a day) for the county coroner to show up. Dunno why Ebert wishes a more commercial rhythm upon an independently-minded film. “All movies should end the same way!”

It’s as if Burnett’s African-American family had become more well-off with each movie. Killer of Sheep they are barely getting by, My Brother’s Wedding they’re poor but surviving, and now they’ve got a nice house and a thriving multi-generational family. Harry is a reminder of the past, but there are reminders everywhere in references to slavery and folklore. The family is drawn in great detail, and the good vs. evil metaphor is clear without being hacky/obvious. Really a shockingly good movie for something nobody talks about and not available on video. Won a Sundance jury award and four independent spirit awards before sinking into obscurity, being replaced by Grand Canyon on the new release shelf.

More consistently on-topic than any previous Moore video/film project, and even more of an illustrated essay than Fahrenheit 9/11 was.

Kinda made me cry a little. Katy liked it, too.