“Jost’s outsider is Frank Goya, a guy with a red shirt, a far-fucking-out-in-the-morning-man delivery, and a fist full of Polaroid snapshots. Ever-cool Goya peers into the camera, announces that he’s a motel-haunting divorce-dick and from then on Angel City is kabuki Raymond Chandler. Hired by the chairman of the world's largest multi-national conglomerate to investigate the death of his wife (a former Plaything centerfold who only ‘came after you hit her’), Goya drives around LA, interviews a bartender, is seduced by the chairman's mistress, solves the case, and gets beat up for his bother.”
“If Jost can be said to have any mentor at all, it would be Jean-Luc Godard, who supported his work in the early 70s with the statement, ‘He is not a traitor to the movies, like almost all American directors. He makes them move.’ A few European critics such as Peter Wollen have referred to Jost as ‘the American Godard,’ and while none of his work qualifies as strictly imitative – except for Godard 80, a 17-minute interview that deliberately apes Godardian techniques [...] – this provides a useful clue about some of the most salient virtues of Jost’s work: lyricism, sharp political and social criticism inflected by polemics, intellectual cogency informed by philosophical concerns, a sense of abstraction in relation to narrative (including many strategies for distancing the viewer from his plots), stylistic eclecticism, a strong and visible interest in painting and music, and a very formal sense of film construction. One also might compare his most noticeable limitations – an occasional hermeticism and a recurring compulsion to end his films with the gratuitous or absurdist deaths of his heroes (Slow Moves, Rembrandt Laughing, and All the Vermeers in New York) – with those of Godard.”
“Angel City [...], shot on 16 mm in 1976 for a budget of $6,000, is part Godardian detective story (with Robert Glaudini as a camera-addressing, bohemian private eye), and part spacey essay on Los Angeles as a place and as an idea. It’s more episodic than narrative: One long chunk of its 76 minutes consists of an infomercial for the corporate mogul whose wife’s death the detective is investigating; another is the wife’s single-shot screen test for big-time director ‘Martin F. Spielkin,’ which consists of a monologue about ‘eating yogurt with Adolf and Eva’: ‘It was the greatest moment of my life – it was a triumph of the will!’ The film’s fiction is threaded together with long, unbroken shots of Los Angeles seen from a moving vehicle, soundtracked by monotonous voices trading off between reciting dry statistics (‘Los Angeles, a city of 5 1/2 million telephones ...’) and equally empty poetic proclamations (‘L.A., city of ghosts, hungers fed by migrant labor...’). The overall tone is bitingly self-reflexive: Late in the game, the detective diffuses the potential pretension by saying to the camera, ‘While you were sort of dreaming about Los Angeles, I was plodding in it for real.’“
- 1. Jim Hoberman in the Village Voice
- 2. Jonathan Rosenbaum, “A Prophet in His Own Country [Jon Jost retrospective],” jonathanrosenbaum.net, 2018. Originally published in the Chicago Reader, 8 May 1992.
- 3. Karina Longworth, “Jon Jost Series at L.A. Filmforum & Cinefamily,” L.A. Weekly, 15 March 2012.