Tag Archives: films

IMAGINARY ARTISTS VI: MOORE

19 Apr

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Although horror comics and Tales from the Crypt were very American artefacts, 1973’s Vault of Horrors was a very British sub-Hammer luvvie-fest starring the likes of Denholm Elliott, Anna Massey and Terry-Thomas… and yes, in the picture above that’s a pre-Doctor Who but already bug-eyed bonkers Tom Baker playing a deranged artist called Moore in the segment called Drawn and Quartered. “Deranged artist”, he writes, as if there’s any other kind. OK, more deranged and irrational than usual. More deranged, irrational and dangerous even than Tracey Emin, because Moore has a special magic voodoo painting hand. Moore doesn’t seem to have a first name, so let’s call him Tom since Tom Baker blesses us with a fairly good dose of Tom Bakerness in this film.

Tom is cheated when his scumbag gallerist Diltant nicks his paintings and sells them off for a huge profit in cahoots with a crooked critic and a dodgy dealer, while Tom remains penniless and uncelebrated. Also bitter, obviously. Again, I say these things as if there’s any other kind of gallerist, critic or dealer… only joking!

Scumbags.

Tom sets out to do do that voodoo that he do’s so well and exact his revenge. It’s a bit like a lowbrow, badly-dressed and greasy-haired 70s nod to The Picture of Dorian Gray, since whatever Tom does to portraits of these wrong ‘uns manifests itself in real life.

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Denholm Elliott: scumbag.

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IMAGINARY ARTISTS III: WARHOL

6 Apr

Even the “real” Andy Warhol was a fictional character, a fastidiously maintained Pop Art costume and distancing apparatus worn throughout his adult life by the lad from Pittsburgh formerly known to his Slovakian parents as Andrej Varhola Jr. After he was nearly shot to death by Valerie Solanas in 1968 it was almost as if the last vestiges of any real person really had died that day; all that remained was the character. On the rare occasions when he spoke of it at all, Warhol more or less admitted this was the case. He sometimes spoke of seeing himself as if he were a character on television.

Within a few years of his death in 1987 Andy Warhol started to appear as a character in numerous films and TV shows, including some (Austin Powers and Watchmen, for example) where he amounts to not much more than a kind of set dressing, a shorthand way of placing the action in trendy New York in the 1960s. IMDB lists a startling thirty appearances of the character since 1991. This means there were some years where Warhol was a character in several films simultaneously. I’m almost certain there are others that aren’t yet listed on IMDB or never would be because they’re outside its remit: TV dramas or feature films from non-Anglophone countries, adverts, comedy shows, pop videos, and so on.

Please enjoy this small gallery of Andys. I haven’t seen I Shot Andy Warhol for years though I seem to recall it being fairly good, but some of these films are bloody atrocious. Most of the ones I haven’t seen look pretty bad as well. I noticed that he’s frequently depicted with his work; this is true in five of the eight stills shown on this page alone. Perhaps it’s an unconscious realisation that the character of the real-world Andy Warhol himself was also in some sense as much a work of art, and of artifice, as his famous soup cans or his screenprints of Marilyn.

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(Far too) animated Andy Warhol (voice by Hank Azaria) in The Simpsons, 1999.

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Jared Harris as Andy Warhol in I Shot Andy Warhol, 1996.

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David Bowie as Andy Warhol, Basquiat, 1996. To quote Andy Warhol in many of his interviews: “Um… No.”

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Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol, Factory Girl, 2006.

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Bill Hader as Andy Warhol, Men in Black 3, 2012. I did warn you that some of these films were shit.

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Andy Warhol (voice by David Herman) in Futurama, 2011, talking to Zoidberg in a cravat and wig.

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Bob Swain as Andy Warhol, Death Becomes Her, 1992. With Zoidberg in a wig again, sorry I mean Marilyn Monroe. I see what you did there, director of Death Becomes Her.

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Greg Travis as Andy Warhol, Watchmen, 2009. Watchmen Pop Art in the background.

IMAGINARY ARTISTS II: VAN GOGH

28 Mar

“As far as I can judge, I am not actually mentally ill.” Vincent Van Gogh, shortly after cutting off part of his ear and giving it to a prostitute.

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Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh in ‘Lust for Life’, 1956.

Poor old Vinnie has been pathologised in a hundred different ways: epilepsy, chemical poisoning, bipolar disorder, alcoholism. Clearly there was something seriously wrong with the paint-eating, ear-slashing, self-medicating and ultimately suicidal painter who sold almost nothing and was known to almost nobody during his lifetime. But in that last fact, it seems to me, lies a large and relatively simple part of the answer. As somebody who’s spent their whole adult life battling to become and remain a worthwhile artist and writer, and to much more success while I’m alive than Vincent ever had (albeit still not very much, and only really by default because he had no success or recognition at all), I can wholly sympathise with and understand his sadness, frustration and depression upon finding that his passion was deemed ridiculous, that his way of seeing the world got him labelled a lunatic, and his vocation was dismissed as a hobby that had no value either monetarily or artistically. Continue reading

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