Jason Holliday may ring a bell with certain of us older folk -- movie-lovers who might have caught, during its brief theatrical run, Shirley Clarke's film, Portrait of Jason, during which, over a continuous half day and night, she filmed the man who went by the name of Jason Holliday and who was a drug-and-alcohol-addled black, gay hustler. Up until then (the film was shot in 1966 and released in '67), the "civilized" white world had seen nothing like this. either on film or most probably in real life.
JASON AND SHIRLEY, the new docudrama from writer/director Stephen Winter (shown at left), that imagines what might have happened during and in between those twelve hours of shooting that went on in order to bring Portrait of Jason to fruition. In this new version, Jason is portrayed by Jack Waters (above, left) and Shirley by Sarah Schulman (above, right). TrustMovies saw the original film during its New York theatrical debut nearly fifty years ago and, as a 26-year old young, closeted, gay, white man, was properly appalled by what he saw. His horizons have expanded some since then, and he would love to see the film again today, with age, experience, and at least a bit more maturity on his side.
Milestone Films brought the restored movie back into a brief theatrical release and, toward the end of the year, onto Blu-ray and DVD. So comparisons can be easily made, for anyone interested. My initial response to this new film mirrors to some extent my original response a half century ago: embarrassment for the man at the center of it all who drinks himself into a stupor and generally makes an ass of himself, beginning to end. That Mr. Waters seems the utter embodiment of Mr. Holliday only adds to the very believable skeeviness of it all.
Chic! informed us so beautifully, artists can get away with this shit because they have -- in addition to their huge ego and complete unconcern for anyone else,-- their art to back them up. So, while Clark may have been a crap human being in some respects, she delivers the goods in others.
Orran Farmer), whom Shirley puts to work in a craven manner designed to "break" our poor "hero." Fireworks (of a sort) ensue, but do they achieve the intended result? You will see.
MoMA in New York City, today, Monday, October 19. Down the line, I imagine it will eventually reach a much wider audience via DVD and digital streaming.