Portrait of Jason (1967) Film Review A

Portrait of Jason
DIRECTOR: Shirley Clarke
BOTTOM LINE:  “Portrait of Jason” is a landmark of the avant-garde cinema of the sixties. Documentary filmmaker Shirley Clarke interviews gay African-American hustler and aspiring cabaret performer Jason Holliday in his apartment at the Hotel Chelsea. Jason is a STAR in his own living room. He is magnetic and the sole screen presence in the film.
As he narrates his troubled life story to the camera – there are several songs and numerous costume changes – Clarke and her partner behind the camera, Carl Lee, use cinéma vérité techniques to reach the sadness underlying Jason’s theatrical exaggerated persona. Like so many, Jason was ahead of his time before and since. Today, he could give RuPaul a run for his money. 

STREAMING: Criterion Collection





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