Sunday, March 20, 2005


Adrian Martin wrote an article called Diary for My Loves in which he detailed some of his lifetime "reel pleasures." These included genres (e.g., comedy of varieties both "profound" and "gagological"), filmmakers (e.g., Godard, Ruiz), and other categorizations (e.g., "1915-1936"). But first on his list was John Cassavetes, on whom he wrote the following few words: "I discovered Cassavetes 'late' - in my mid-twenties - and no experience of cinema before or since has even approached the profundity and force of this revelation. For me there are almost no words that can be spoken, even in the most deferential and intimate homage, about this angel: quite simply, I believe (with Thierry Jousse) that "it is through him that life entered the cinema"." I think this is a very appealing sentiment.

So it had been about five years since the last time I saw Cassavetes films, but in recent weeks I've been revisiting his work and seeing some of it for the first time. In the past few days I saw two films I should have seen long, long ago. Opening Night is a film of horror of discovering that part of oneself is always dangling desperately "behind" other parts of oneself; it's the only film I can think of that deserves to be mentioned in the same breathe as Esther Kahn for being not only so concerned with similar things, but also for being so good.

The other film, which I watched just last night (I had been so embarrassed at never having seen it that it made me put it off even longer), was A Woman Under the Influence. This is one of the very greatest films I've ever seen. The experience of engaging with Cassavetes again, in this film in particular, is too raw, too disorienting for me to even try to be eloquent. So I'll have to not really say much of anything right now, and hope that I can do better in the future, after time and future (re)viewings have sunken in.

... I also took another look at a little bit of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, which I have always previously mentioned as my Cassavetes-of-choice, and it still looks incredibly impressive. If I didn't have many other things to take care of today, I would have sat down for the 2+ hours to watch the film again. It was hard enough as it was to pull myself away. Stunning work ...

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