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Portrait of Jason - Wellington Film Society


Mon 16 Jun 2014, 6:15pm–8:00pm

Where: The Paramount Theatre, 25 Courtenay Place, Wellington

Restrictions: M

Ticket Information:

  • Members Free: $0.00 ($0.00)
  • 12-month membership: $95.00
  • Additional fees may apply

(Shirley Clarke, USA 1967) M

One night in 1966, the director Shirley Clarke interviewed the gay, black, self-described hustler Jason Holliday, a long-frustrated actor and a monologuist of self-dramatizing, self-flaying genius, in her apartment at the Hotel Chelsea. The resulting film, a raw-edged sketch of furiously extended takes with the seams showing, is a masterwork of grand-scale intimacy, in which the extraordinary protagonist, alone on-screen for an hour and a half, seems to give birth to his new identity in real time even as he also invents the medium of performance art. Meanwhile, he presents, with a disconcerting exuberance, an agonizing time capsule of an age of ambient racism, homophobic persecution, and moralistic hypocrisy. He adorns stories of arrests and enforced psychiatric sessions and of the racist arrogance of white employers (for whom he worked as a domestic) with as much freewheeling, self-deprecating, life-loving laughter as he does his tales of sexual adventures and samples of his night-club act (featuring uproarious impressions of Mae West and Katharine Hepburn, among others). In his lifelong pursuit of pleasure, Holliday (who died in 1998) paid an outsized price in pain but was outspokenly wise to the transaction - and knew that this very performance, with its leap in self-knowledge and risky self-exposure, involved both.
– Richard Brody, New Yorker.

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