David Holzman’s Diary (1968)

“The noted French wit Jean-Luc Godard said, ‘What is film? Film is truth 24 times a second.'”

Poster

Synopsis:
A young filmmaker named David Holzman (L.M. Kit Carson) decides to “figure out his life” by creating a documentary of his everyday actions.

Genres:

Review:
The inherent irony of this early mockumentary — a prescient forerunner of “reality TV”, YouTube, blogs, and all other forms of self-promotion through digital media — is that, in his attempt to lampoon the banality of everyday life, director Jim McBride ultimately creates a movie which is, in a word, boring. While there are some clever cinematic techniques and a few moments of levity (David being hit on by his lusty neighbor; David obsessing over the mysterious girl who lives across the street), ultimately it’s annoying to watch this narcissistic young man try to capture every moment of his humdrum existence on film — and when he films his naked sleeping girlfriend (Eileen Dietz) against her wishes, you’ll want to throttle him! Even at 74 minutes, this innovative yet uninteresting film — more effective in theory than in practice — is too long.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A creative lampoon of “cinema verite”
    Holzman
  • An effective depiction of filmmakers as narcissistic voyeurs
    Voyeur
  • Louise Levine as Holzman’s hilariously lusty, deep-voiced neighbor, “Sandra”
    Sandra
  • Some clever cinematic techniques (such as the long, long traveling shot of elderly people sitting on benches in a park)

Must See?
Yes. While I didn’t personally find David Holzman to be compelling viewing, it’s a cult film with historical importance.

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(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to “David Holzman’s Diary (1968)”

  1. First viewing. Among the most boring films ever made.

    It is in the archives of a major distributor. It has been preserved. How did these things happen?

    It is largely ‘about’ a creepy, nerdy guy’s obsession with his superficial, model gf. Why do we care about this?

    It came out at a time that welcomed this kind of experimentation – and this apparently influenced…better films. But, influential or not, the source film must be interesting in itself. And this film is not in the least bit interesting. It’s a total f*****g bore! OK, so he’s a sensitive, artistic guy, this ‘narrator’. But he hasn’t a single idea that’s he’s interested in seriously pursuing. He’s a voyeur. He’s a victim of arrested development. And he’s a whiner.

    Need I go on?

    This is part of the problem with Peary’s book…and the fact that it’s not updated. Would he reconsider…MANY of the choices he made for inclusion? Actually, I’m not sure he would. He seems to have this ‘thing’ about inclusion of obscure titles out of fear of exclusion of significant trail-blazers. Or so it seems.

    Skip this. No, really. Skip it.

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