From the Journals of Jean Seberg (Mark Rappaport)

Rating: ***1/2 (out of ****)

Call me a snob, if you must, but I feel duty-bound to disclose that the only reason I'm not giving this film my highest rating of 4.0 is because it was shot on videocassette, and transferred to 16mm. It is, in every respect but the purely aesthetic, a magnificent, provocative, entertaining, and illuminating work, and I urge everybody reading this to run out at once and see it (assuming that that's an option for you; I imagine its distribution will be limited); at the same time, I can't ignore the fact that I spent too much of its running time thinking how much better it would be if it didn't look so crappy. I can't blame Mark Rappaport, who surely would have found it impossible to raise the funds necessary to shoot such an intelligent, complex meditation on gender roles, political repression, the history of film editing, and the nature of film history (in case you haven't gleaned it yet, the film isn't really about Jean Seberg, though Rappaport uses her career, as well as those of Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, as an invaluable and uncanny touchstone) with an actual film camera. Is it a documentary? A "fictional essay"? A "fictional biography"? Who the hell cares?! It's terrific, that's what it is, and should be required viewing for anyone who has thought for two seconds about going into the film business in any capacity...or for anyone who loves films...or for just anyone who wants to see something really fun and thought-provoking, what the hell. Mary Beth Hurt, the film's only actor (outside of a jillion clips), is remarkable as "Seberg", in a low-key, sardonic way. Indispensable.