"I was interested in communicating with people who were on the outside." - Lou Reed, Velvet Underground
When making a documentary, the simple route has always been to throw together footage about a subject and then lay a voiceover on top, describing the chronological events. Cut it together, explain how things progressed, wind it up, then bam, the doc is complete.
To transcend the ordinary and build a true classic (especially with a groundbreaking artist such as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Velvet Underground), one has to match the subject matter stylistically. Not just with sound but with style, visuals, and pacing.
It isn't easy to pull off, but the fantastic documentary Velvet Underground accomplishes this with bold visual pairings, incredible songs (of course), and on-point interviews with Jonas Mekas, Andy Taubin, and more. Director Todd Haynes masters this with a gorgeous montage of pulsing lights, Andy Warhol films, and split-screen visuals.
I have heard folks say that this is a documentary that deserves to be played loudly, and frankly, I have to agree (especially if you have understanding neighbors). Todd Hayne's outstanding Velvet Underground is a documentary genuinely worthy of its subject. It is one of our favorite films of the year. (B+)
Directed by Todd Haynes
Starring Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale, Doug Yule (Voice), Maureen Tucker, Andy Warhol, Nico, Amy Taubin
Photo: Apple TV+