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NY Times Critic's Pick

NY Times Critic's Pick

2:20   4:50   8:30

“The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” – Brian Eno. The quintessential 1960s New York art-rock group, The Velvet Underground — Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker — oozed cool, from their expressionless stage presence to their trancelike music and lyrics evoking sex, drugs, kink, and all things transgressive. With songs like “I’m Waiting for the Man,” “Venus in Furs,” and “Sister Ray,” they were a gritty riposte to hippiedom and an influence on rock for decades to come. Todd Haynes (who previously explored the many guises of Bob Dylan in I’M NOT THERE and glam rock in VELVET GOLDMINE) traces their origins, assembling a mind-boggling collage of underground movies (Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger, Tony Conrad) and Lower East Side performance art. Andy Warhol, the band’s Svengali, discovered Nico, the blond chanteuse whose deadpan beauty added to their mystique. Haynes interviews only figures who were part of the scene, including: Cale, whose electric viola and piano work were key elements of their sound; drummer Tucker; Terry Philips of Pickwick Records, where Reed cut his teeth as a staff songwriter; Factory superstar/The Velvet Underground dancer Mary Woronov; singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman, who attended over 60 of their shows; and La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela of the avant-garde collective Theatre of Eternal Music (where Cale fine-tuned his viola-drone sound). “Fabulously entertaining.” – The Hollywood Reporter


Presented with support from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Fund


Read A.O. Scott’s Critic’s Pick review and Elisabeth Vincentelli’s feature in The New York Times.

“The perfect Velvet Underground doc. The group would bridge the gap between the Brill building, Baudelaire, and downtown New York bohemianism… extraordinary.”
– David Fear, Rolling Stone

“4 OUT OF 4 STARS! Fascinating. This is a dazzling film. A spectacle as well as an account of a time and place. An experience, something you feel as you might feel the drums during a live music performance: in your gut. It’s Godardian, but it’s also Warholian and Haynesian… it’s hypnotizing, brain-expanding, and just plain fun.
– Matt Zoller Seitz,

“Hypnotic, seductive, and, just simply, very cool. Haynes deals with the band on the level they wanted (as musical poets, innovators, and influence) with admiration, but not uncritical reverence. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND is a documentary that meets The Velvet Underground eye-to-eye and enriches it.”
– Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily

“A coruscating document that feels like a time-machine kaleidoscope. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND is dazzling: a hypnotic act of high wire montage.”
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Two fabulously entertaining hours. Haynes puts his distinctive stamp on the material while crafting a work that could almost have come from the same artistic explosion it celebrates.”
– David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“It’s a dark, disturbing and glorious film about a dark, disturbing and glorious band, and another sign that Haynes knows how to put music onscreen in a way that few other directors do.”
– Steve Pond, The Wrap

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