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Remembering the Velvet Underground Through the Mirror of Film

In its day, the Velvet Underground verged on the inscrutable, a band that tempered pop curiosity with avant-garde abrasion. Managed for a time by Andy Warhol, it wasn’t particularly successful by commercial measures, but the group — which included Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker — provided an early counternarrative to the peace and love centrist counterculture of the 1960s, and proved to be profoundly influential.

The band is remembered in “The Velvet Underground,” a new documentary directed by Todd Haynes, who has made unconventional music films for the last two decades. This movie is a deep dive on the New York demimonde that birthed the band, and also a reflection on the cinema and art of the day.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about how the Velvet Underground was experienced in its time, how the band’s musical aesthetic matches with the film’s visual aesthetic and the state of contemporary music documentaries.


  • Jon Pareles, The New York Times’s chief pop music critic

  • A.O. Scott, The New York Times’s co-chief film critic

Connect With Popcast. Become a part of the Popcast community: Join the show’s Facebook group and Discord channel. We want to hear from you! Tune in, and tell us what you think at popcast@nytimes.com. Follow our host, Jon Caramanica, on Twitter: @joncaramanica.

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