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The Pleasures of Being Out of Step

By TREE PALMEDO
[ONE WEEK ONLY] Jazz fans know Nat Hentoff as “that guy who writes liner notes.” Village Voice fans, on the other hand, know him as “the First Amendment guy.” Both views of the man are accurate: For more than 50 years, Hentoff has been a key—and controversial—voice in conversations about jazz and civil liberties, managing to simultaneously support hate speech and the rights of black musicians. He also happens to have written the liner notes to many classic jazz albums since the 1950s—and has produced some of those albums, too. It’s reasonable to expect that viewers of David Lewis’ documentary on Hentoff, The Pleasures of Being Out of Step, will already know a little of Hentoff’s work, and these filmgoers will not be disappointed by the impressively comprehensive but slightly inaccessible film. Forgoing a biographical narrative, the documentary plays like a series of out-of-order episodes in Hentoff’s life: There are his incendiary columns on AIDS and abortion, his series of interviews with Bob Dylan, and even his time spent hanging out with Malcolm X. The film paints a clear picture of Hentoff thanks to interviews with contemporaries, close friends and Hentoff himself, but it also tells a broader story, emphasizing the importance of the alternative press in America. Hentoff may have been out of step with popular opinion at times, but the film argues that he, as the archetypal outcast, has always mattered.
 

Special Note

Clinton Street Theater
 
  • Genres: Documentary
  • Running Time: 87 minutes
  • Release Date: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Critic's Score: B+
  • Starring: Andre Braugher [Narrator]
  • Directed by: David Lewis [Director], David Lewis [Producer], Tom Hurwitz [Cinematographer], Samuel Pollard [Film Editor]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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