Me me me: the movie

Who is Henry Jaglom?

Henry Jaglom hasn’t heard of you either. But maybe that’s for the best, as Jaglom’s the kind of guy who’ll get to know you—particularly if you’re a woman—by sticking a movie camera in your face and firing off tough, intimate, presumptuous questions. “There’s no such thing as too personal,” he has said. Yeah, Jaglom will just pry right into your personal life, not to mention his own, then make it all into a movie, for which he’ll be called a genius and a maverick and an egomaniac and a hack and God knows what else.

Yet you’re curious about him, right? Fair enough. Jaglom is one of modern cinema’s most compelling solipsists, and that’s saying a lot. Find out more from the 1997 documentary Who is Henry Jaglom?, new to DVD later this month. This fun, jaunty portrait shows the man as, at least for starters, a flirt, a bully, a friend to Orson Welles, a self-described “male lesbian,” a “kamikaze intellectual,” in Candice Bergen’s words, and, actually, a necessary moviemaking gadfly, impressively committed to his artistic ideals.

No telling how he got that way, although his brother recounts dangling Henry out a third-story window and forcing him to watch creepy Peter Lorre movies, so that might’ve had something to do with it.

One virtue of waiting a decade for the DVD is that it comes with a special-feature interview in which Jaglom complains that the original documentary focused more on his personality than on his work. That’s true, and probably why it wasn’t called How Does Henry Jaglom Work?

Here’s how: In 1985’s Always, for instance, he dramatized his divorce by reliving it on camera with his ex-wife.

“It’s like a garage sale,” one witness says early on of the maestro’s indisputably fertile filmmaking style. “You go to someone’s house and you see the most intimate and private things out on the front lawn. And there’s a lot of treasures, and there’s a lot of complete junk.”