Review: David Holzman’s Diary DVD

David Holzman's Diary DVD boxSTUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Jim McBride | STARS: L.M. Kit Carson, Eileen Dietz, Lorenzo Mans, Louise Levine
8/16/11 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $34.95
BONUSES: three bonus films, photo gallery
SPECS: NR | 74 min. | Drama | 1:33 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

David Holzman''s Diary movie sceneAlthough it was shot and released in 1967, the “underground” fictional movie David Holzman’s Diary, about filmmaker David Holzman (L.M. Kit Carson) documenting his every move, feels uncommonly timely. Our antihero’s self-absorption and media-obsession may tie the film to such “higher” works of art as Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, but Holzman also offers an unintended, oddly pungent critique of the current generation of vloggers, bloggers, Tweeters and YouTube uploaders.

The cult film is grounded in the reality of the moment. It was shot in the summer of 1967, with wonderful New York City location footage, snippets of AM radio and an amazing fast-motion montage of everything Holzman watched on network TV in one evening. Director Jim McBride, who later made the infamous 1983 Breathless remake (scripted by Carson), has his character quote Godard and Truffaut on screen and, as was the case with certain key works of the French New Wave, the actual plot of Diary is revealed gradually and is not as cute as it first appears to be.

Holzman is actually hung up on his ex-girlfriend — whom he drove away with his addiction for recording everything — to a disturbing degree. As the film moves on, he turns from a harmless movie geek into a stalker, who is also obsessed with an attractive neighbor (who doesn’t even know he exists). The fact that McBride successfully juggles both his satire on “truth” in film (in particular, cinema verite) and the unsettling stalker narrative in a mere 74 minutes explains why the film still works nearly five decades after its release and why it was selected to be included in the National Film Registry.

Included in this Special Edition DVD are three real-life home movies shot and assembled by McBride. Although the first two are self-indulgent to the max, the films are captivating when McBride offers images he shot on cross-country car trips in 1969 and 1971.

The third supplement, actually a 2008 home video, presents a pleasant look at how McBride and his son married into the family of the famous British theater critic Kenneth Tynan.


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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”