If you count yourself among the city’s many Warholics, this Saturday’s evening with Gerard Malanga at Cinemathque Ontario is for you. If, like me, you find that the films that came out of the Factory date about as well as zebra meat in the Kalahari sun, then steer clear.
Malanga was a major influence on Andy Warhol, serving as his chief assistant from 1963 to 1970 and starring in a number of his films. Initially brought into the Factory fold to help with silk-screening, Malanga soon became in-house poet and photographer.
The two movies that Malanga will be showing before a reading of his celebrated poems are more interesting as historical curios than as actual films. The first, Gerard Malanga’s Film Notebooks, promises interesting glimpses of Bob Dylan, Salvador Dali, Jane Fonda and The Velvet Underground c. 1965-66. But, set to the dischordant nails-on-a-chalkboard wailing of occultist calligrapher Angus MacLise’s soundtrack, Malanga’s footage leaves its subjects lost behind a wall of awkward artifice.
The second film, In Search of the Miraculous, is a little more intriguing. Centered around a young poet’s (Malanga) love for a woman with a strange attachment to her father, the film juxtaposes overlapping images with a rich, epic soundtrack in its exploration of the pain of obsession. Some of the looped images are truly arresting, but, in general, In Search of the Miraculous triestoo hard. So many of the cinematographic effects employed here feel labourious and tired.
Few still-living Factory folk are in as good a position to speak about what that whole period in Warhol (and New York’s) life was really about as Malanga. But, for my money, his films are best left forgotten.