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David Holzman’s Diary (Blu-ray Review)

6 Aug, 2011 By: Angelique Flores

Street 8/16/11
Kino Lorber
$29.95 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars L.M. Kit Carson, Eileen Dietz, Lorenzo Mans, Louise Levine, Fern McBride, Michael Levine, Bob Lesser, Jack Baran.

Director Jim McBride had me going for a while. This 1967 film of one man’s search for the truth through his handheld camera lens offers a prescient commentary on the media, reality, entertainment and the blurring of all three in an all too believable fake documentary.

David Holzman has just lost his job, and his eligibility to be drafted has heightened. He has decided to film his life in an attempt to make sense of it and find the “truth.”

The result is this artistic, political and sometimes creepy black-and-white “documentary.” There’s no real plot, but it’s hard not to get sucked in by David’s voyeurism, his soliloquies and the interesting people around him, such as a horny older lady who wants to get in his pants.

This 44-year-old groundbreaking film has the is-it-or-isn’t-it-real feel of The Blair Witch Project populated with the camera whores and the camera shy of current reality TV (pick your show).

There’s David’s friend Pepe, who points out in his eloquent monologue that it’s impossible to capture the truth when people know a camera is running. And there’s David’s girlfriend, Penny, who dumps him when he breaks his promise to not film her and films her sleeping nude. Her and others’ discomfort to David filming them is palpable.

The Blu-ray transfer here is beautiful — clean, but still gritty. It manages to look new, while still retaining a warm, dated feel.

The bonus materials include Jim McBride’s Diaries: My Girlfriend’s Wedding (1969), Pictures From Life’s Other Side (1971) and My Son’s Wedding to My Sister in Law (2008). Shot similarly to David Holzman, these documentaries are a bit slower, but with even more intrigue. That’s probably because they are real. The first two are feature-length, and the last a short. All take a fascinating look at McBride and his own family, and are great viewed all together.

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