Portrait of Jason Reviews

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Top Critic
J. Hoberman
September 30, 2015
The larger truth is that Jason, who died in obscurity in 1998, and [Portrait of Jason] still have things to teach us about the nature of race, sex, and success in America.
John Beifuss
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
January 29, 2015
Jason's surnames have a Dickensian interpretive quality: The invented 'Holliday' testifies to his wish for a life of celebrity ease, while birth-name 'Payne' seems appropriate to his stories of a rough Southern childhood and a stay in a 'nut house.'
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Louis Proyect
December 2, 2014
A reminder that character is the heart of drama, even in a documentary made on a shoestring.
Noel Murray
The Dissolve
November 10, 2014
Jason's simultaneously funny and tragic, and almost heroic in the way he keeps eluding director Shirley Clarke's efforts to pin him down.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews
October 18, 2014
This unscripted and uncompromising study of a self-proclaimed street hustler is a fine example of the pioneering film movement of cinema verité.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Richard Knight
Windy City Times
June 27, 2014
A non-stop, fascinating monologue that is enormously entertaining.
Ray Pride
April 8, 2014
Melancholy joie de vivre permeates every instant in the film, made to look as ragged as possible yet elegant in its simple, loving directness: look at him.
Top Critic
Mark Feeney
Boston Globe
September 11, 2013
Like any star turn, Holliday's performance rings utterly true. It's that indefinable but unmistakable reality-beyond-reality called art.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
David Lewis
San Francisco Chronicle
August 15, 2013
This is a film way ahead of its time.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
May 2, 2013
Whether Jason is laughing or crying, he holds you rapt with tales that conceal as much as they reveal.
Phil Hall
Film Threat
April 23, 2013
A mesmerizing journey into experimental filmmaking.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
David Fear
Time Out
April 16, 2013
Serves as a sideways time capsule, creating a blurry snapshot of an Afro-camp subculture during the era of Christopher Street bar raids and burn-baby-burn rioting.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Joseph Jon Lanthier
Slant Magazine
April 16, 2013
Shirley Clarke counters Jason's queen-bitch attitude by reminding us with vocal and technological interjections that this is a performance, and that aesthetic judgments have been made while recording it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Richard Brody
New Yorker
April 15, 2013
A masterwork of grand-scale intimacy ...
Stuart Klawans
The Nation
April 12, 2013
By the end of the long night's shoot, Clarke knew she had captured one of the most involving, uncompromising and revelatory human documents in the history of cinema.
Top Critic
Melissa Anderson
Village Voice
March 27, 2012
[Portrait of Jason] says more about race, class, and sexuality than just about any movie before or since.
Top Critic
Bosley Crowther
New York Times
March 27, 2012
Portrait of Jason is a curious and fascinating example of cinema verité, all the ramifications of which cannot be immediately known.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Emanuel Levy
July 24, 2011
A riveting portrait of a black male prostitute from the bold, gifted director Shirley Clarke
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Tony Rayns
Time Out
February 9, 2006
Jason himself certainly provides enough artifice to keep any audience engrossed.
Top Critic
Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader
January 1, 2000
It's an intense, commanding film, though Clarke's wholesale appropriation of Jason's life and pain for the purposes of art causes a moral queasiness.
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