"Yes, this film is one of the supreme masterworks of all of American cinema. It is absolutely essential. Yes, it is "difficult." Yes, it is "slow." But those standards are for enterainment. Cassavetes wants to take us out of our ordinary ways of viewing. He wants to deny us the escapism of "entertainment." That's the point. If you have trouble with this film--good! If you find it infuriating--good! If you find it not entertaining--good! It wants to get under your skin. It wants to shake you up."Cassavetes' films are always tricky, uncontainable creatures--they are demanding, exhausting, rewarding in so many surprising ways. Yes. But never, not even as a teenager watching Shadows or Chinese Bookie, have I felt the urge to turn off the television or leave the theater. I've never felt initially that any of these were bad or incompetent or infuriating films that I had to "scale" like Brenez did with Stromboli; never been put off by their alleged "amateurishness." I never feel the need to justify Cassavetes' work to myself or others by contrasting it to "entertainment." Is it just me--is it the product of my self-conditioning that I'm not as put off by Cassavetes as someone who saw almost primarily postclassical Hollywood films would presumably be? Or are Carney and his advocates here pressing too hard on this point, not considering that not all people who watch Cassavetes are coming from the same allegedly Hollywood-sanitized place?
So the question I want to put forth to those who read this blog is, what kind of challenge does Cassavetes represent to you? Is it, for anyone, especially for anyone who loves these films, an affront to your system, each time you see a film of his, so much that you're tempted to stop watching, or to shout out in anger?