Restaurant

Restaurant
(Andy Warhol, 1965, 33 minutes, B/W)

Allow me to be smarmy for a moment. No one would give two licks about this film if it weren’t for the cult of Warhol. Yes, one can enjoy the film for its minimal use of camera. The opening images flash by until the camera settles on a close-up of an ashtray, a few classes, a bottle, and random hands descending and ascending into the frame. The voices are barely audible, a dissonant white noise. Occasionally a shrill scream makes itself heard over the din. The film’s star, Edie Sedgwick takes a prominent seat to the right side of the frame, but her face is far out of frame. As time goes on the camera slowly zooms out to revel a cluster of Warhol “stars” such as Ondine and Edie sitting at a table table. They gab, the order, they drink, and they smoke. Every 100th word is heard, but nothing makes much sense. Later, the camera shifts about the room attempting to pry in on the conversation of other diners. Finally, the camera returns to Edie and then the film runs out.

As an exercise in gesture or banal camera work this may hold the slightest interest. Many images appear like that from a liquor ad or an absurd play, with a gaggle of partygoers crammed around one table. However, if the film were only that and nothing more it would not have withstood the test of time. Since it was made by Andy Warhol the film continues to exist and it continues to torture film students and for once I actually felt rather sorry for the kids in the lecture hall. I only have to wonder what a faculty member would say if one of these students turned in a similar project. A or F, what would the student get?

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