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David Holzman's Diary [DVD]


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  • Actors: L.M. Kit Carson, Eileen Dietz, Louise Levine, Lorenzo Mans, Fern McBride
  • Directors: Jim McBride
  • Writers: Jim McBride
  • Producers: Jim McBride
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Second Run
  • DVD Release Date: 30 Jan. 2006
  • Run Time: 74 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AWKSYG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,898 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

A young filmmaker attempts to understand his life by recording it on film, only to have his experiment turn into an alienating, voyeuristic obsession. One of the neglected milestones in contemporary film history, this legendary independent classic captures the state of mind and the state of the art in late 1960s America.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By HJ on 9 May 2007
Format: DVD
Holzman decides to film his everyday life to make it real, in the hope that some kind of truth about the meaning of his life will emerge. Instead, his obsessive filming alienates everyone & his girlfriend is replaced by a very fraught love/hate relationship with his camera.

This is a 1960s spoof documentary satirizing the cinema verite movement of the period, showing that cinema, especially documentary, is voyeuristic & distorts rather than reveals truth (although the film still manages to capture some nice documentary vignettes of New York in 1967 such as a hilarious encounter with a transsexual). Of course the interest in the film now is that it prefigures the endless confessional video diaries & reality TV of half a century later. It could also be the first mockumentary.

Although low budget black & white, compared to most 1960s underground movies "Holzman's Diary" is extremely well made - McBride went on to make films such as (Tarantino fave) the remake of "Breathless" (ironic as Godard is satirized here) & cameraman Michael Wadleigh went on to shoot for Scorcese & direct "Woodstock". The weakest thing in the movie for me was the main actor, although presumably he is supposed to be "bad" - as indeed another character, Pepe, says in a funny monologue-to-camera denouncing the film.

The DVD also has an accompanying film "My Girlfriend's Wedding" (in colour but much rougher) which strangely contradicts "Holzman's Diary" in that it is surely a genuinely honest & truthful confessional documentary, about a mixed up English woman who has come to the USA to "find the revolution". McBride probably thought she would be Anna Karina to his Godard, but the results are unexpectedly funny, poignant & disturbing. A haunting insight into 60s craziness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nobody VINE VOICE on 15 April 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In the sixties Jean-Luc Godard claimed that film was truth 24 times a second. So David Holzman endevours to see if it's true by filming himself to establish some truth about his life. `David Holzman's Diary' is essentially a subtle psuedo-documentary or mockumentary exploring what can be regarded as truth in an emerging media-made reality. It's easy to believe that what we are seeing is real but in reality is scripted and acted and directed. What director Jim McBride (who worked as a news cameraman) is doing is satirizing Godard's theory along with whole direct cinema movement which included D. A. Penebaker (Don't Look Back,1967) and the Sayles brothers (Salesman, 1968). A similar film worth checking out also is Haskell Wexler `Medium Cool' (1969) which takes a greater behind the camera look at the issue blurring line between reality and fiction.

`David Holzman's Diary' is a great film and well worth watching. The DVD come with an interview of Jim McBride as well as his short film `My Girlfriend's Wedding'(1969)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. N. Dixon on 18 May 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Great film. Ahead of its time. Liked the way that he was trying to do something creative and constructive and it completely worked against him. There was a lesson here. I learnt one but I won't spoil it by telling you what. Enjoy!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Masterpiece of film about film 9 Mar. 2001
By Allan MacInnis - Published on Amazon.com
This film is NOT a poorly shot diary film by a guy named David Holzman, as some other reviewer implies. It's a CONSTRUCTION, a work of art, a film about film, with L.M.Kit Carson (who was involved in the writing of PARIS TEXAS and has done other stuff, though, sorry, man, I forget what) PORTRAYING the starving artist obsessed by the need to document his life. The film is so realistic, as a sort of mock-verite, that even I, on first viewing it on latenight TV some years ago, not being familiar with the work, thought it was really a diary film, though it's a little too coherent in it's concern for the role of the artist -- too thematically unified -- for one to remain convinced of this for long. Still, the fact that people DO get fooled is a testament to the film's realism. The director, Jim McBride, went on from this astonishingly intelligent little movie to make what I think of as "forgettable Hollywood schlock" like THE BIG EASY. Despite this, serious film buffs -- in both the sense of people who like serious films, and people who are serious buffs -- should check this out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Blu-ray: "David Holzman's Diary" ala Cinéma vérité is fantastic on Blu-ray! A must-buy! 16 Dec. 2011
By Dennis A. Amith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
Cinéma vérité. It is a style of documentary filmmaking, combining naturalistic techniques with stylized cinematic devices of editing and camerawork, staged set-ups, and the use of the camera to provoke subjects.

During the '50s through the '70s, Cinéma vérité was a way for one to analyze the war, one's way of life, society... and sure enough, one man would create a fake documentary titled "David Holzman's Diary" to showcase the style of documentary filmmaking but also to made viewers at the time wonder...was it fake or was it real?

Whatever that answer may be, one thing is clear... the mock documentary became a bonafide American classic and some consider the film as the beginning of the mockumentary.

And just to think that this film came from Jim McBride, the popular filmmaker with a string of mainstream box office hits with "Breathless" (1983), "The Big Easy" (1987) and "Great Balls of Fire!" (1989) and directing TV episodes of "The Wonder Years" (1990-1991), McBride was known for his independent film work.

Primarily for the film "David Holzman's Diary", a film that is a parody on the art of documentary-making and McBride's first film that was selected in 1991 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".

To celebrate McBride's independent film career, Lorber Films is releasing "David Holzman's Diary" on Blu-ray but also including three other of his films, documentaries "My Girlfriend's Wedding" (1969), "Pictures from Life's Other Side" (1971) and "My Son's Wedding to My Sister-in-Law" (2008).

"David Holzman's Diary" revolves around Daviz Holzman (played by L.M. Kit Carson), a neurotic and narcissistic individual who has gotten a hold of a 16 mm camera and immediately, David begins to record a diary of himself, a film which he would star people in his life and those who live within the area.

But as Holzman, a cinema fan who quotes Jean-Luc Godard's "the cinema is truth 24 frames-per-second" but is it?

In the film, Holzman showcases the real New York, from the social unrest that was occurring in the city at the time and also the Vietnam War. Holzman tries to show the people in his life such as Penny (played by Eileen Dietz), his girlfriend who he tends to alienate as he films her without her permission.

Sandra feels alienated as David is consumed by his filmmaking lifestyle and can't put the camera down. She asks him to stop, he doesn't. He even films her while she is sleeping in the nude, without her permission. Needless to say, the relationship is one-sided.

David also tries to get his friend Pepe (played by Lorenzo Mans) in the film. And Pepe also ridicules him for trying to create a film about his life. Who would watch that? A film is about escaping reality. Who would want to watch a film about reality? Moreso, who would want to watch a film about the life of David Holzman?

But the more we watch David, we get to learn of how odd he is.

From Sandra, the woman who lives a floor above him and a woman that he silently stalks and watches outside her apartment window to get a glimpse of her and speaks of what he finds so fascinating about her. May it be her movements or her everyday actions, he is obsessed by her.

But as David Holzman starts to find how difficult it is to create a film about himself and his life, will his film ever be finalized?

VIDEO:

"David Holzman's Diary" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and is shot in black and white. It's important to remember that in order to capture the low-budget feel of David Holzman's film, the film had to look like it was shot in an extremely low budget and in this case, that budget was $2,500.

But while the film was made to look low budget, the fact is that this 16mm film was shot back in 1969 and as one would expect, it has had its share of film degradation.

But fortunately, through the restoration by the Pacific Film Archive, the University of California and the Berkeley Art Museum, this is probably the most wonderful picture quality of the film to date. The film looks fantastic. I saw no warping, no massive dust or scratches, no major damage whatsoever. The contrast, the blacks, the grays and the whites...the picture quality looks fantastic!

Considering the film was low-budget and shot in 16mm, it's great to see this classic restored and look absolutely great in HD!

AUDIO:

"David Holzman's Diary: Special Edition" is presented in 2.0 monaural. Once again, this film was meant to seem low budget and amateurish, so while the dialogue is clear, you can hear noises that in most cases, audio restoration would try to remove, but in this case, it is part of the film and what makes the film seem so real. It's deficiencies in audio at times but also how sound plays a big part in showcasing the era and the troubles in society at that time.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Possibly the coolest addition of the Blu-ray release of "David Holzman's Diary" is the inclusion of the following three special features:

My Girlfriend's Wedding - (1969, 63 minutes) A documentary featuring Jim McBride and his girlfriend Clarissa Ainley and how Clarissa will be marrying another man for the purpose of getting a green card. A very intellectual conversation driven documentary.
Pictures From Life's Other Side - (1971, 45 minutes) A documentary featuring Jim McBride, his girlfriend Clarissa Ainley and her young son traveling across the country to look for a home.
My Son's Wedding to My Sister-in-Law - (2008, 9 minutes) A featurette showcasing Jim McBride, Clarissa Ainley and her son today.

EXTRAS:

"David Holzman's Diary" comes with a slipcase.

JUDGMENT CALL:

I absolutely enjoyed "David Holzman's Diary". I'm sure at the time, the movie was so unique, so fresh and while it is satire, the fact that the talent were unknown talent and the actions seemed quite real and believable. Mockumentary at its finest. It's how I would describe this film.

From David trying to film his girlfriend and to see her slowly getting irritated and frustrated by him shooting her on camera but then to see common instinct come to play when he films her while she is sleeping (naked) and to wake up and to see him filming. Obviously a big betrayal but to see him not care so much about her, but yet have this obsession towards a woman who lives in the same building but yet he has never met, there is no doubt that David Holzman is a bit off.

A mockumentary, faux-film ala Cinéma vérité, Davd Holzman's diary is a bonafide classic, loved by many and has been given a definitive release on Blu-ray courtesy of Lorber Films.

It's one thing to have Jim McBride's classic on Blu-ray but to also have his two earlier documentaries "My Girlfriend's Wedding" and "Pictures from Life's Other Side" plus "My Son's Wedding to My Sister-in-Law" is fantastic.

"My Girlfriend's Wedding" may not be for the masses as it is a documentary based on intellectual conversation as McBride's girlfriend Clarissa Ainley talks about her life, her perspective on society but also marrying someone other than her boyfriend for a green card. Fast forward and the two return in the documentary "Pictures From Life's Other Side" as we see the McBride and a pregnant Ainley, along with her son traveling across the country to find a new home. Interesting discussions, especially hearing of what comes out of Ainley's young son's mouth.

And of course, what better way to wrap things up the family documentaries by concluding with "My Son's Wedding to My Sister-in-Law" and learn how everyone turned out since those documentaries were made and how complex things have become in McBride's extended family.

Overall, if you enjoyed "David Holzman's Diary", not only are you getting the best looking version of the film to date but you are also getting a wonderful release celebrating Jim McBride's independent work.

A five-star release! "David Holzman's Diary: Special Edition" is highly recommended!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Satire of direct cinema 15 April 2007
By Nobody - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
In the sixties Jean-Luc Godard claimed that film was truth 24 frames a second. So David Holzman endevours to see it's true by filming himself to establish some truth about his life. `David Holzman's Diary' is essentially a subtle psuedo-documentary or mockumentary exploring what can be regarded as truth in an emerging media-made reality. It's easy to believe that what we are seeing is real but in reality is scripted and acted and directed. What director Jim McBride (who worked as a news cameraman) is doing is satirizing Godard's theory along with whole direct cinema movement which included D. A. Penebaker (Don't Look Back,1967) and the Sayles brothers (Salesman, 1968). A similar film worth checking out also is Haskell Wexler `Medium Cool' (1969) which takes a greater behind the camera look at the issue blurring line between reality and fiction.

`David Holzman's Diary' is a great film and well worth watching. The Second Run DVD come with an interview of Jim McBride as well as his short film `My Girlfriend's Wedding'(1969)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
What "Get Smart" is to James Bond this is to the Maysles 15 Dec. 2003
By Stephen M. Amy - Published on Amazon.com
brothers. I felt like the Boston Strangler was operating the camera as the "verite" subjects were inside of their own homes and being shot through windows, from the street, in the final segment. It has occured to me that being a "verite" subject could easily rub a person the wrong way. And other parts of this movie- such as splices of all different images to have appeared on TV during the course of an evening (in 1967- so not only is it an amazing experience, visually, to grok this- it also is a nostalgia trip). And the continuous pan- if that's the correct tech term- of people relaxing on park benches not only satirizes "verite" but also could be real "verite" in that I felt that something about the human condition was conveyed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not Hilarious 7 Sept. 2011
By james bernath - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I don't know how the NY Times could call this hilarious, when the first thing out of "David Holzman"'s mouth is how he has both lost his job and gotten his induction letter in the mail, which means a certain trip to Vietnam in the very near future. What follows is full of irony and dread, as it captures both the NYC of the late '60s in gritty black & white, and the emotional turmoil of the self-documenting "Holzman". It is certainly a deviously realistic parody of documentarians and of cinema verite auteurs like Cassavetes and his seminal work "Shadows". But there is too much angst and fear in the handsome and yet foolish young man as he stalks his ex-girlfriend in the few days remaining to him before (probably) perishing in Southeast Asia, to ever call this brilliant piece of work humorous.
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