Archive for Viva

“Why do they always shoot Kennedy?”

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2008 by dcairns

Whew! The Film Fest is drawing to a close. My last film of the official fest was Agnes Varda’s LIONS LOVE, screened as part of the Shirley Clarke retrospective because Shirley’s in it, along with Warhol star Viva, her two ugly boyfriends, producer Max Raab (magnificently, sculpturally ugly), Peter Bogdanovich (walking by and hiding his face) and Eddie Constantine (trying to play a love scene with Viva but finding it impossible in view of her lack of professionalism, retires, defeated).

Shirley Clarke.

It was kind of great and kind of… not great at all. Clarke is an engaging presence but the tale of her (fictitious) attempt to make a Hollywood movie didn’t catch fire as the movie had no real existence. The self-indulgent mucking about by the menage a trois was often quite entertaining, and sometimes just annoying. Viva looks like a Pre-Raphaelite painting but her untrained screech of a voice has a marked tendency to grate. Varda’s borrowings from Chytilová’s DAISIES are very nice, but sometimes look tacked-on. The thing has an immense time-capsule value, as everything Clarke touched seems to, but there are times when Varda’s policy of simply shooting the T.V. news of the R.F.K. assassination for minutes on end makes one feel that she ought, in all decency, have offered a co-directing credit to the news team.

Shirley’s green top is HORRIBLE (such a difficult colour to wear) but her shades and “L.A. outfit” are kind of stupendous.

Best postmodernist deconstructionist moment — as Shirley considers suicide, she suddenly breaks character and protests that she would never kill herself over a film, “I don’t care if I never make a film again!” and only cares about her daughter, Wendy. Varda dons the terrible green top in order to demonstrate how simple it is to take some pills, washed down with Dr. Pepper, and Shirley relents and goes through the motions for her. How much is faked? Some? All?

Clarke’s feelings about the shoot were mixed. In Michael Auder’s CHRONICLES: FAMILY DIARIES I, screened as part of the retrospective, Clarke can be heard, barely, reminiscing about the experience: “Anyone can tell she’s a dyke, she just doesn’t want… loved Jacques romantically… they were not talking about the film in order to save their marriage… I told her, you have to score some drugs for Viva, it’s called being nice to your star..”

As the great Roscoe Lee Brown listens sympathetically.

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