Film director Paul Morrissey, erstwhile manager of Andy Warhol's Factory, has been dogged, his career overshadowed by the Warhol legend. His iconic films Trash, Lonesome Cowboys, Heat, and Flesh were merely presented by Warhol and so deemed the artist's films, while it was Morrissey who actually made them. "Andy had Asperger's Syndrome; he didn't do anything," groused Morrissey to interviewer James Toback at a special screening of his latest film News from Nowhere last Tuesday at the Walter Reade Theater. "What did Andy do?"
Fans, many friends and neighbors like Bruce Weber, were able to revisit Morrissey's unique vision at the News from Nowhere screening. The new movie, the best ever filmed in Montauk, Long Island, is a testament to Morrissey's artistry. A handsome and mysterious stranger, an Argentine illegal worker (Demian Gabriel) arrives by fishing boat, and connects with an assortment of eccentrics, most notably an older woman (Warhol superstar Viva) who occupies a rundown and secluded oceanfront compound of old style, grand, shingled houses and bungalows. The site was the property Morrissey owned with Warhol since 1971. Before selling it two years ago, Morrissey decided to make a film there, a final homage.
Other scenes were filmed at Sepp's Cottages, now owned by Weber, and featured young actors Justine, King and Henry, members of the Crawford family. Morrissey is their granduncle.
A devotee of Turner Classic Movies on television where Morrissey can view his all-time favorites, Morrissey spoke about the perils of acting method. In the old days, he said, actors were personalities, distinct. If you just gave them the words without telling them how to say them, they could perform, in a natural way, without "acting." Illustrating this point, a screening of Trashyea (1970) followed the interview, featuring Joe Dellasandro shooting heroin, and consorting with characters played by Holly Woodlawn and Jane Forth. The movie's full frontal nudity and onscreen sex still seem fresh. A time capsule, Trash provides an extraordinary view of long-ago downtown New York decadence, from a filmmaker who now affirms his Catholicism and Tea Party politics.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.