De Antonio continued his scathing social critique a year later with America Is Hard to See (March 19), an analysis of the failed Eugene McCarthy presidential campaign, while a more exotic realm of the counterculture is exposed in Underground (March 26), made in 1976. That film's penetrating back-to-the-camera interviews with radical revolutionaries like Jeff Jones and Bernadine Dorhn would no doubt have caused a riot in the office of de Antonio's lifelong nemesis, Red-baiting transvestite FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, had not the latter died in 1972. Still, the filmmaker gets his revenge with Mr. Hoover and I (also March 26), a thoughtful look at a "relationship" that began in the 1940s when Hoover threw de Antonio into "custodial detention" as a Red and only ended with Hoover's death. This film, completed in 1989 a few months before the director died, was his most personal; he talks with bracing intelligence directly to the camera on a wide range of subjects dear to him. Unlike too many on the left, he also had a whimsical sense of humor that emerges when he abandons politics briefly to sample some strange-looking bread baked by his pal, the legendary composer and genius of the toy piano, John Cage. The Antonio series begins with In The Year of the Pig at 8 p.m. Friday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 978-ARTS.
-- Gary Morris