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USA 1970
Directed by
Paul Morrissey
110 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Trash (1970)

Synopsis: Joe (Joe Dallesandro) is a junkie whose habit has gotten so bad that he cannot get it up despite the earnest attentions of a number of women and would-be women. We follow his desultory adventures, sleeping on the floor of his drag queen friend's (Holly Woodlawn) tenement apartment, attempting to rob a (supposedly) middle class couple, applying for welfare with a shoe-fetishing social worker, and so on.

"Andy Warhol presents" was a tag attached to a clutch of films "written, photographed, and directed" by Paul Morrissey from the late '60s and early '70s and starring Joe Dallesandro (Flesh and Heat were the other two) Whilst Warhol and Morrissey had collaborated on some earlier works, notably the outrageously camp Western, Lonesome Cowboys (1968) in which Dallesandro also appeared, these three films were entirely made by Morrissey although still dependent on a roster of characters from the Warhol freak show and sharing the earlier films' anti-style with their deliberate rejection of the crowd-pleasing entertainment values of conventional cinema. With no script to speak of, off-hand or histrionic acting and the usual considerations of lighting, framing and sound quality being given short shrift, Morrissey turned his somewhat voyeuristic eye on a motley crew of dope fiends, hustlers, drag queens, fag hags and has-been B-movie actresses that gravitated around Warhol at his notorious "Factory".

Trash was the second of the trilogy and the film that brought Morrisey and his star, Joe Dallesandro ,a wider audience. It clicked with the critics of the time who appreciated its mix of provocative affectation (camp) and faux cinema verité (realism). Dallesandro, in a convincing display of smacked-out indifference, is the centre-piece of the film and at this the stage in his career, arguably the most gorgeous male specimen ever to grace the screen (he was immortalized by Lou Reed as 'Little Joe' in' Walk On The Wild Side'). Around him lurch a number of loopy women who are in most cases as stoned him and hence get little gratification for their desperate lust for his body. That is, of course, the joke. Trash is like a porno that has the cheap sets, throwaway plot, low-rent production values but no erection.

Yet it is more than camp. Clearly the actors are not moonlighting whilst they wait for their big break but more or less playing themselves. In the drug-hazed world of the early '70s illusion became reality and as much as Trash adopts a knowingly ironic pose there is the feeling that whether the camera was on or off, its participants' pose was always on. This is what makes the film both gleefull, sadly voyeuristic and a classic document of its time.

FYI: The most famous victim of all this confusion was poor-little-rich-girl, Edie Sedgwick, one-time model, some-time Warhol star who died of a drug overdose in 1971 whose story iss told in Ciao Manhattan




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