ANDY X: A Sunday Picture

John Carozza

BRISBANE FESTIVAL: From Jim Sharman, director of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, comes an audacious 40 minute adventure in modern screen culture.
ANDY X: A Sunday Picture
Andy X is essentially a fabulous collection of set pieces recreating the subtext and essence of the artistic life of the iconic Andy Warhol, who it must be said, would most likely have reveled in seeing himself so detached, but so flamboyantly detailed in Australian director Jim Sharman’s musical film about him.

Sharman’s Andy X beautifully pieces together, in a colored dream-like set of surreal imagery, the man himself, plus a select group of those who entered his universe and arguably contributed to Warhol’s world and artistic and personal perspective. Visually, this is much more than the surrealist label it is being touted as. It is a feast of hyper-realistic and stylized imagery, with an archivist (the narrator, essentially) leading us in song through key moments is Warhol’s life. He moves in and amongst colored archive boxes, presumably in homage to Warhol’s tendency to hoard, and reflects on how Andrew Warhola morphed into Andy Warhol.

A small cast, led strongly by Akos Armont, hypothesize in song about the conditions leading to the arrival of Andy Warhol on the New York art scene and his subsequent death. Armont is wonderful as a version of Warhol and does a fabulous job of shifting between his narration duties and his pale, wide-eyed Warhol.

Stand out scenes are firstly an almost sensually camp (!) number early in the film, where one version of Warhol assures a sickly version of himself he is loved and special as they consummate this love over a pair of red patent leather shoes; and secondly, a simple but striking scene, where Valerie Solanas (the excellent Sheridan Harbridge), firstly taunts and then shoots Andy. A strikingly red bloodied handprint is splashed on the glass door as he strives to escape. It itself is Warholian in style and color. Throughout the film, scenes are color coded in much the same way as Andy Warhol’s iconic quadratic multi-paneled portraits. This motif is another example of the delicious detail waiting to be picked up by any Warhol aficionado. The delightful songs by Basil Hogios are clever, camp and riddled with facts and names that were part of the Warhol phenomenon.

Andy X is a musical, performance-art hybrid that has been captured on film, but a piece that would sit comfortably on stage. For me, the 40 minutes was too brief and I wondered how with so much material and characters to choose from, the key moments were selected to focus on. I would also have liked to have seen the Basquiat figure/influence angle explored more, but these are just personal observations.

I once heard somewhere that Andy Warhol wanted to be a robot; he hated feeling and eating and all the messy bodily functions that make us human. Maybe Jim Sharman heard the same thing, as he finishes this film with his Andy finally getting his wish. It is a surreal and humorous moment that I think Andy would have loved.

Andy X: A Sunday Picture
Director and Screen Adaptation: Jim Sharman
Book and Lyrics: Stephen Sewell
Music and Lyrics: Basil Hogios
Choreography: Shaun Parker
Photography: Bonnie Elliott
Editor: Nick Meyers
Starring: Akos Armont, Sheridan Harbridge, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Gillian Jones and David Denis
Producers: David Harmon, Michael Pontin, Lisa Hoppe, Trevor Howell and Jim Sharman

The Studio, Metro Arts
September 14 – 24

Brisbane Festival
September 3 – 24

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

John Carozza is a teacher and artist based in Brisbane. He is presently working at the QLD Academy for Creative Industries where he has developed the (award winning) Film Studies Program for the international Baccalaureate. He has over 20 years of teaching experience, as well as being commissioned to develop units of study and lead workshops in digital pedagogy and visual literacy in schools around Queensland and internationally. John teaches into the QUT film courses, lecturing in his specialist area of de-construction in World and Australia cinema where he has been invited to speak on various films.