Andy Warhol's Heat

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 05/03/00 07:31:13

"MTv's 'Real World' should take a lesson from Heat."
3 stars (Average)

1972, Warhol, Dallesandro. The Names, the lights, the utterly banal yet skewed lives of Los Angeles has beens and the mindlessly grating drama of their lives makes for a surprisingly good voyereustic time.

Warhol made a series of "films" in the late '60s and early '70s in what he probably thought was a moment of genius. John Waters later agreed with him but where Warhol toyed around with the absurd and the grotesque, Waters made it explicit.

Andy seemed happy to just let the camera roll and many of his films are sloppy and choppy and edited with a lot of high concept and still he manages to tell a story. Warhol relied on metadata, information about information to prod the audience to live in between the lines.

Heat, unlike some of his films, has a plot-like device that anchors the conversation between three characters over the period of a few days.

Joe Dallesandro plays a hustler named Joey. No surprises there, it's how he made his money off screen as well as on. The hustler lives with a Hollywood actress who is living off what little bit she has left from her few highly overlooked roles and camping out at mom's with her son. Joey tries to seduce his landlady, the actress's mother, to reduce his rent. She succumbs now and again but argues with him and her daughter incessantly about their loose morals and shiftless lifestyle.

Heat is funny, unintentionally or no. Joe Dallesandro was a hottie in 1972. He recently had a biography published and on his book tour someone asked him what he missed most about his time with Warhol. He said, "My body". Sally Todd the actress, (Sylvia Miles)is a whiny airhead with no sense of continuity or consequence who has decided she is a lesbian. One of the funnier scenes is the argument between her and her mother about this sudden change of lifestyle. "Your son will grow up to be a lesbian if he's raised by a lesbian", screams mom.

The film flows like a smoggy summer day in the Los Angeles basin filled with walks to 7-11 in flip-flops, interrupted by moments of pool-side lounging and catty, inane arguing. For a New Yorker, Warhol pegged the zeitgeist of Los Angeles while not being stereotypical or isolating his characters from their environment.

The popular conception of the '70s is pseudo-hippies, bell-bottoms and polyester, which is just regurgitated media images of things that barely existed. What the media never got wind of and therefore couldn't reproduce from its arbitrary and half-fictional memory, was what was happening in the New York art scene and what it would never tell you; what was happening in the Los Angeles entertainment industry scene. If you really want to see the parts of '70s that were worth seeing, see Heat. And then listen to the Village People. That is education enough for anyone.

Lesbianism and Joe Dallesandro's body set against jaded Angelenos without a clue is the meat of this film. Andy milks this simple structure for all its worth.

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