Trash (1970):

Paul Morrissey's humanist porno-farce opens on Joe Dallesandro's pimply ass, though the hustler vitality of Flesh has been drained by smack addiction, only the druggy slur left. Go-go bunny Geri Miller is on her knees trying to get a rise out of him, all to no avail; the trajectory has been described as the search for a hard-on, but Little Joe's dick has long given way to the veins in his arm. No longer the main ingredient in the characters' search for neurasthenic Nirvana, sex here takes the back seat to the supposedly less ephemeral realm of drugs -- thus, cumming to Dallesandro doesn't cut it any more because then, "it's over." A needle pricks an arm, the vérité shot scored to the squabbling of an off-screen couple, yet, despite apprenticeship under the idly demystifying camera gaze of presenter Andy Warhol, Morrissey's wavering focus and off-center graininess are primarily at the service of the characters, from Andrea Feldman's acidhead, singsongy squawk to Jane Forth's faux-haute recounting of a brush with a flasher while would-be rapist Dallesandro shaves in a bathtub. Presiding among them is tranny Holly Woodlawn as Joe's tantrumy flat mate, who scavenges garbage cans, paws a baby-faced high-schooler looking to score weed, and whose mascara channels Dietrich as much as her overbitten emotional cascades evoke Magnani. Stumbling upon junkie Joe and her randy, pregnant sis, Woodlawn launches on a tirade worth twenty one-woman shows, though the picture is about isolation, the hangover from Flesh, with the pursuit of drugs deadening rather than arousing sensation -- frustrated Woodlawn jacking off with a beer bottle as a flaccid Dallesandro zonks out on the squalid floor is, for all the movie's absurdist tone, one of the decade's great desolating images. The concluding passage, with her refusal to give up her Joan Crawford shoes to welfare investigator Michael Skylar, attests to Morrissey's respect for her bruised dignity, just as the plaintive curtain line ("Joe, let me suck your cock") signals an attempt at human connection. With Bruce Pecheur, and Diane Podel.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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