Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Subterranean Cinema---a good resource

Got a few films from Subterranean Cinema a few days ago and have been very happy with them.

Subcin sells movies that are literally impossible to get any place else. The guy who runs it has gone to film archives at major universities and museums and procured the films, put them first on video, and now sells them on DVD-R.

One of the ones I got from them was "Lonesome Cowboys", Andy Warhol's gay cowboy movie satire. Very funny....where should I start? The double entendres? The overt homosexuality between the cowboys? Suggestions of unnatural love between cowboys, the local madam, and a horse?

Well, I'll leave it at this: A funny line where two cowboys, who are sleeping side by side, are talking. One of them has been out east, and the other cowboy is asking him why, suggesting that he should have stayed out west. "You should be out here, leaning up against cactus and getting pricked." (he says with his New York accent. Everyone has them in this movie).

All of Warhol's films are impossible to find. There's been a suggestion that some are available in Australia on PAL format, but I don't know anything about this. The films that are marketed as Andy Warhol's films that are available are actually directed by Paul Morrisey, films like "Flesh" and "Trash". If you look close at the boxes you'll see that they say "Andy Warhol presents"...usually followed by the title and then "A Paul Morrisey Film". This is how major motion pictures like "Andy Warhol's Dracula" got to be made. In the early films Morrisey stayed close to Warhol's technique but increasingly diverged from it as time went on.

Enter SubCin. Through SubCin you can get Warhol's masterpiece "Chelsea Girls", about the Chelsea hotel and it's residents, in the original version where the screen is split into four parts, which tell four stories simultaneously. It works, actually. I've seen it. You can get Lonesome Cowboys and pretty much everything else. The only drawback is that "Blue Movie", which is basically one shot, over an hour long, of a couple talking about life while in bed, is only available in a version that's dubbed into German with no subtitles.

But, ce la vie. Objections too could be made to the film quality of "Cowboys", which is spotty, but since it's literally unavailable anywhere else, I guess it's a question of going with the film that you have, not the film print you wish you had, as Donald Rumsfeld might say.

The best part of SubCin, though, is that despite being the only source in North America for these movies each of them costs about as much as a new CD.

Considering that orthodox economics says that society works better when you jack the price up on something until people stop buying it, the persistence of cheap prices at SubCin is a breath of fresh air.

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