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Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis

It's hard not to be moved
By RICHARD BECK  |  February 21, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
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Even if Andy Warhol did call filmmaker Jack Smith “the only person I would ever copy,” Mary Jordan’s portrait of the avant-garde anti-hero goes a little far in asserting his importance. Film, performance art, rock videos, Fellini — Jack Smith, it seems, made it all happen. Despite Jordan’s sometimes stifling love of her subject, she has an imaginative eye for Smith’s surprisingly coherent æsthetics. Those who admired and hated his films — “Flaming Creatures” (1963) is either famous or notorious depending on who you talk to — may have painted him as everything from sexual freedom fighter to moral menace, but for Smith it was all about the “Baroque.” His ornate sensibilities are on display throughout, and with his sad, sing-songy voice serving as a guide, it’s hard not to be moved. Warhol, Jonas Mekas, and Mary Jordan herself want him to have transformed a world that he only wanted to escape. The Harvard Film Archive is accompanying this documentary with a program of “Flaming Creatures” and two other Jack Smith films go to hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/.
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