A sonic-boom look at a seismic band, The Velvet Underground dissects one of the most influential 1960s musical acts with dizzying visual flair and a structural academic rigor refracted through a showman’s prism.
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At its best, Haynes’ film is neither a dry accounting of who the Velvets were nor a heady evocation of their work; it’s a movie about the fires these people set inside each other and how they spread to anyone else who was burning and gave them the same permission to push back against expectations.
The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney
Making ingenious use of split-screen, experimental montage and densely layered images and sound over 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.
Screen Daily by Fionnuala Halligan
In short, The Velvet Underground is a documentary that meets the Velvet Underground eye-to-eye and enriches it.
As a collage of the period, The Velvet Underground is dazzling: a hypnotic act of high-wire montage. You can tell that Haynes wants to take us as close to this band as possible, and if that means his entire documentary is going to have to be a kind of poetic sleight-of-hand trick, then so be it.
Todd Haynes’s documentary excitingly captures an era’s explosion of creativity, one that bespoke new and challenging kinds of freedom.
The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw
This is a great documentary about people who are serious about music and serious also about art, and what it means to live as an artist.
The Telegraph by Robbie Collin
The Velvet Underground is not the kind of music documentary that dutifully walks the viewer through the greatest hits and bitterest feuds. Instead, it re-conjures the moment that made the hits possible and the feuds inevitable, via a whirl of archive footage and interviews new and old.
The VU feels like it’s told from the perspective of the band members and is always veering far away from talking-head doc standards.
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.
Interesting doc with visuals as cool and creative as the band itself. Hearing the band members recount their stories was a real treat, especially Mo's commentary.