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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
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