Emotional Time: The Films of Henry Jaglom

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A true outlier of the American cinema, Henry Jaglom came up as an alum of the famed Actors’ Studio, studying under Lee Strasberg. Jaglom soon settled in Hollywood as a bit part actor, getting work on GIDGET and THE FLYING NUN before landing a memorable role as a hippie on a bad trip in Richard Rush’s PSYCH-OUT. Falling in with the BBS Productions crowd, Jaglom’s directorial debut A SAFE PLACE became a part of their initial slate of game-changing independents alongside Peter Bogdanovich’s THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and Jack Nicholson’s DRIVE, HE SAID.

Armed with the influence of Method acting and the mentorship of late Orson Welles (whose conversations he taped and transcribed), Jaglom’s subsequent directorial trajectory polished an elliptical, improvisational, and emotional style that has earned gushing comparisons to John Cassavetes or quick write-offs as self-indulgence. Jaglom’s troupe of actors often feature former or current girlfriends/wives, family members such as brother Michael Emil, and friends such as Zach Norman, whose real-life relationships are stoked or pushed to emotional extremes. His career has been largely self-funded (and self-promoted on Los Angeles billboards à la Angelyne), and it shows—this is fiercely independent filmmaking whose pace and subject matter are unlike any of the usual California exports. His films have a whole other logic, pace, and timbre: it’s not just cinematic time, it’s emotional time. —Spectacle