Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Vibrant, funny and tragic documentary.
  2. A love poem to the New York City of the '50s and '60s, when Smith, the visionary of camp (Andy Warhol stole from him), more or less invented performance art.
  3. It's Jordan’s feat to make a linear, talking-heads documentary (among the heads are Jonas Mekas, Robert Wilson, John Waters, Nick Zedd, and John Zorn) that still manages to evoke something of Smith's floating, ravishingly colorful dreamscapes--a menagerie of creatures that, even as they're captured on film, are already fading into the air.
  4. Reviewed by: Ed Halter
    Jordan's interviews, from John Zorn to John Waters, all attest to Smith's reputation as a pivotal influence on film, performance art, gallery installation, and photography; as Richard Foreman once declared, everybody stole from Jack.
  5. 83
    If modern art-lovers want to understand what the Jack Smith experience was like, Jordan's documentary may be their best chance.
  6. 75
    In his later years, Smith, who was also a gifted photographer, largely abandoned films in favor of performance art - and his art apparently included deliberately contracting the AIDS that ended his life.
  7. Reviewed by: Donald J. Levit
    Eccentric and pure like its hero, Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis will appall or bore many, but, a worthy piece of cultural history, it should delight devotees of the "real" reel underground.
  8. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    An insightful and incisive portrait of a self-destructive paranoid artist whose importance is partly hidden by his own divisive nature.
  9. He resisted commodification by continuously reediting his other films and reworking his live performances--a dazzling legacy that influenced everyone from Warhol to Fellini to John Waters. In some ways Smith's art became commodified only after he died and his estranged sister gained control over his work, though that did lead to this documentary, a fascinating introduction to his special world.
  10. 60
    Offers an intriguing, and profoundly frustrating, view of the New York underground hero whose 1962 erotic fantasy "Flaming Creatures" paved the way for Andy Warhol, John Waters, the "queer cinema" explosion and pretty much anybody who's ever made a movie starring his friends in weird Salvation Army outfits.
  11. Reviewed by: Matt Zoller Seitz
    Ms. Jordan lets a few subjects contradict the image of Mr. Smith as martyr, but the overall tone is worshipful verging on reductive. You come away impressed by Smith's charisma, versatility and integrity, while also wondering if a man so abrasively self-important could have made such playful art.

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