David Holzman's Diary (1967)

Not Rated   |    |  Comedy, Drama

David Holzman's Diary (1967) Poster

Young filmmaker decides to make a movie of his life.



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17 February 2012 | sandover
Hold, man, this diary
Kit Carson's face has a relevancy even today, cutting through the demographic piece of the cake: he reminds one of Jean Pierre Leaud which is arguably one of the motives casting him as David Holzman, and he also reminds one of us today Beck's face, and his maybe signature lyric "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me."

But David Holzman as his name says is a man holding - holding what? A camera for sure, the instrument that ultimately makes him fall apart; pursuing his credo stated right at the beginning and maybe, uneasily, hilariously put to the test for the rest of it, that is Jean-Luc Godard's phrase that the cinematic truth runs 24 times a frame. I liked the fact that he rises a bit his voice and somehow overacts his name with an American accent as if it was not far away from jeans, luck, God and art.

I admit I expected something closer to the "I do this, I do that" poetic compositions Frank O'Hara was doing a bit earlier the same period, for he too queered and mocked supposedly avant-guard procedures, or at least their seriousness. I thought David Holzman's self-indulgence slightly needed the more constant alertness he exemplified in scenes like the one in the park, with rows of old people on benches and a dubious voice-over international commentary - that broke away from the rather one-dimensional reaction poor Penny has and seems that she conceives her late boyfriend a simple stupid stalker.

For me the anthology scene is the one with David's friend who talks on camera theorizing about film, in front of a pop mural at his place - and when you think the way the tableau conveys it that you are about to have an illumination on Rosenquist and his tableaux and the American predicament or what, David's friend moves and goes back to the wall resting his head on the crotch on the figure behind. This is great sophisticated camp.

And for me it echoes finely when the end comes with an unexpected intuition on the other side of the pitch: in the end David Holzman says he would not have done it; the 24-times truth seems to him something close to Bartleby territory. "I would prefer not to". Not to do it he says, but this, exactly, seems to me a grim acceptance of the American predicament. What I mean by this is that Bartleby never says "not to do it", nothing comes after his "not to," his denial is a formal gesture without content, that is why his presence is so unbearable. David is not Bartleby but he stumbles upon his presence, perhaps the way Zapruder stumbled upon a President's assassination some years back in his own brand of home cinema verite, and this is what troubles David and makes the film something else than a diary.

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