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When the Velvet Underground performed around New York in the 1960s, they weren’t the most popular band. “They had this off-putting aura, you know? Yikes, they were scary,” says Martha Morrison, guitarist Sterling Morrison’s wife, as she remembers one of their concerts at Cafe Bizarre for Todd Haynes’ new documentary, The Velvet Underground. Then, actress Mary Woronov’s jaw drops as she remembers the night that they came to Andy Warhol’s Factory in all black attire and performed “Heroin” early on in their career. The screen flashes from a stop motion concert footage montage to a dimly lit basement, marked by mannequin legs hanging from a thread and the silhouette of a curvy vintage couch. The laid-back opening strums of “Heroin” hum underneath images of gyrating hips and audience members. Gradually, one panel becomes two and the images become more and more distorted, all in-time with the music’s increasing pace and increasingly uncertain lyrics.

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