David L. Lewis
The Pleasures of Being Out of Step (NR)
Documentary 87 June 25, 2014
Lewis packs in as much as a movie can hold. A "lowercase-L libertarian," Hentoff wrote for the Voice for more than 50 years, in his youth helping establish the paper's feisty tone and in his later years often taking on the left itself, arguing against the right of women to have an abortion.
The doc soaks a bit in the music and personalities of Mingus, Miles, and other stars of jazz's high-water mark, a mark Hentoff was among the first to note. We hear a snatch of Hentoff's interview with a young Bob Dylan for Playboy, see a clip of Billie Holiday singing on a TV show Hentoff briefly ran, and get anecdotes about Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, and more. Also fascinating: a rapid tour through the First Amendment controversies Hentoff stirred in his column; always principled, he argued for the free-speech rights of American Nazis.
The film isn't the final word on Hentoff, of course. He has thousands left in him. But it is a fine and lively précis, a celebration of a life well lived (and well fought).