@ BOBBY WISE
“I’d love to hear a nuanced critique of his films from someone who doesn’t love him and doesn’t hate him, someone who is generally knowledgeable about his place in the history of cinema.”
I’d read a whole book on such a thing. Really, I would.
I recently examined a biography on Woody Allen… apparently it was the only biography that Woody had approved of himself.
That obsequious biographer’s tongue was so far up Woody’s ass… that the book was almost impossible to read. Glowing, kvelling, cooing, oohing and aahing… on every page.
No-no-no-no, there has to be, as you say, a disinterested critique of filmmakers. And that’s what I’d like to read vis-a-vis Cassavetes.
Did Mom, Dad and the kids trundle into the stationwagon and whisk off on a Saturday afternoon to see Cassavetes pictures in 1968? Who watched these things?
There is no point in defending John Cassavetes. It is like defending the other JC. You either get it or you don’t, and, usually, you don’t get it in the beginning. But something tells you there is something there. And you watch again, and then pretty soon you can’t get enough. I understand people’s negative reaction to his films. They are difficult. But coming to the full understanding that he actually went through great pains to make them precisely as difficult as they are, i.e. not easily swallowed, makes the trouble people have with them that much more joyous.
Someone earier in this thread compared the films to ‘love’. their may be nothing more that can be said.
having said that. where to start? my friend who opened this glorious door for me says that Minnie and Moskowitz is the best place to start. I might agree.
Same with Gummo, you either get it or you don’t….
Same with my film, Jasmin & Josephine, which I recently posted in the Garage.
It’s definitely not for everyone….
God David please stop, we get it, you don’t like Cassevetes, implying that those who do like him are just Woody Allen Biographer esque ass lickers is really lame. I’m not even the biggest fan of his, I find his films incredibly hard going intense experiences, I keep seeing my family very very clearly in them, they’re so true they hurt, to dismiss such brilliant insights into the human condition in such a cocky way is just sad.
‘Did Mom, Dad and the kids trundle into the stationwagon and whisk off on a Saturday afternoon to see Cassavetes pictures in 1968? Who watched these things?’
Are you joking, you don’t honestly think that amounts to decent film-criticism do you?
The solution is simple: Don’t read my posts.
And now, I’ll bid you do the same: “Stop, Allan! Please contribute no more of your ideas to MUBI. If I disagree with them, why, my whole day will be shot. Besides, you’re not toeing the line of consensus opinion… and that is forbidden.”
“I understand people’s negative reaction to his films. They are difficult. "
That pretty much sums it up. The initial negative reaction, especially to Faces is almost a cliche now. Smart folks seem to have the most obvious and ill-formed negative reactions. David, you’re right on track for learning the joys of admitting how much you don’t know and how little what you think you know matters. Carry on brother.
Damn you David you anti-conformist you…
Gets me in trouble wheresoever I might go.
I just like to check to see if people are awake, that’s all, and not merely reciting scripture they read in their college film texts.
It must also be said: no movies that MUBI has turned me onto……….has elicited so many impassioned posts from me. So, like FRASER-ORR says, there must be something afoot…
On another thread, someone wrote something to the effect of: No director invigorates young aspirants to grab a camera and GO the way Cassavetes does. I do see what they mean.
“Films today show only a dream world and have lost touch with the way people really are… In this country, people die at 21. They die emotionally at 21, maybe younger… My responsibility as an artist is to help people get past 21… The films are a roadmap through emotional and intellectual terrain that provides a solution on how to save pain” John Cassavetes
Fair enough. But I could say that he has replaced one kind of filmic artifice……….with another kind.
I’ve been around plenty of working-class people when they’re very drunk and some who were schizophrenic even; Believe me, these people do not need to “struggle”, “search” or emote clumsily to find their spoken meanings, nor are they inaccurate or hamhanded when they do speak them.
Cassavetes is showing us his own romanticized version of the drunk and crazy petit-bourgeoisie. Which, of course, he has every right to do.
Whether it’s more “honest”….. is debatable.
Okay, I have a question here. I’ve never seen a Cassavetes film, but I’ve been interested in his work for a while. I saw a copy of Shadows at my local library and that’s about the only access to Cassavetes that I have right now. Would Shadows be a good place to start, or should I try to seek out something else instead?
Knock yourself out and see FACES (1968).
Then promise me you’ll report back to this thread with your review…
Seth, if you’re willing to invest some time, I strongly encourage buying a copy of Cassavetes on Cassavetes and watching his films chronologically (as is accessible to you), then reading the corresponding chapter in the book (the book is a discussion with Cassavetes organized chronologically by film).
It really is an amazing experience. It’s like watching the movie with him, then listening to him discussing it. Incredible!!!!
“Cassavetes is showing us his own romanticized version of the drunk and crazy petit-bourgeoisie. Which, of course, he has every right to do.”
Yes, Cassavetes is giving us his own perspective on life, but he’s also showing how ANY set perspective is going to fall short of truth. The moment we think we’ve worked a character or situation out in a Cassavetes film, he’ll bring in another perspective that contradicts what we thought and forces us to re-evaluate what we’re thinking. Then he’ll shake us up again. The point of the film is that any techniques we use to try and make life easier to understand are going to come up short.
That’s why if you’re going to view his films through a lens of “70’s filmmaking” or use a learned system to try and decipher his works, you’re going to miss the point. One of the reasons you disliked the film so much is that it deliberately steps outside the usual viewing habits.
Re: Entertainment. I find these films to be hella entertaining. They’re electrifying! But it’s not the usual entertainment you get from having your emotions manipulated. For me, it’s the entertainment of being given a completely new experience.
Side note to some of the people in this thread: If David doesn’t like Cassavetes, it’s perfectly legitimate that he argue his reasons why. He’s never been anything less than polite and articulate, which cannot be said for some of the Cassavetes fans here. If everyone agreed that Cassavetes was brilliant, this discussion would be far less interesting than it is now.
“Hella”? Haven’t heard that in a while. What part of the Bay Area are you from?
Don’t you guys think that Minnie & Moskowitz would be a good way to start? I mean I admire them all, but this one is both easier than Faces or Opening Night (my favourite) and representative of his work as a director.
I just got through seeing MINNIE & MOSKOWITZ.
It is the biggest load of bollocks, of nonsense, that I have ever seen. As with the other Cassavetes I’ve seen, if any of these characters were to come remotely in my vicinity in real life, I’d run screaming and crying in the opposite direction.
Have any of you seen THE ROOM by Tommy Wiseau? Basically, Cassavetes is Tommy Wiseau. A Tommy Wiseau with some sleight-of-hand, and a pretty, deft, trained actress.
Cassavetes managed to find himself a very beautiful actress—- Gena Rowlands—- who is indeed wonderfully pretty, winning, game, funny, physical, resourceful. She does have star quality. No doubt about it. She’s first class.
And it is only her presence in these films that make them appear to be Not-Wiseau. Were she not in them? You’d have THE ROOM by Tommy Wiseau.
Funny thing about Art: Desire is not enough. A sad thing to say, even an unfair or mean thing to say, but no less true for that. With Cassavetes you have a man with tremendous desire…. a desire to make movies…. His desire is strong, and so is his physical energy. And any director needs a helluva lot of desire to get anywhere.
But desire is not enough.
He had no business—- really—- making movies. There’s nothing here except tired memes from the 1970’s. Remember folks: Americans will “buy” anything. Anything at all. They’ll buy PET ROCKS, for heaven’s sake. Only Rowlands’ presence in these things make them seem like something special.
Thus I see John Cassavetes as a poseur, an apparatchik, a ganev, an imposter in the world of the arts. And sometimes, imposters can go surprisingly far.
He is a handsome imposter.
He is an energetic imposter.
He is a resourceful imposter.
He is a prolific imposter.
He is an ambitious imposter.
He is a notable imposter.
He is a daring imposter.
He is an imposter with chutzpah.
But is he an imposter? Yes.
@ Brooks: LOL! Now, you are just trying to “get our goats” aren’t you? How funny is it that you compare Cassavetes to Wiseau. I am a super-fan of both. These are two men that made films from their heart. Completely and totally following the beat of the their personal drummer. Of course, one is an alien and the other has made the most truthful and bravest films I know.
But seriously, why are you so (seemingly) furious? This whole “wiseau-infected” tirade is not saying anything specific about the movie you just watched, which, by the way, is, for the most part, a comedy.
Of all the things to say about him….“imposter” ?!?!?!?!?!? If it wasn’t so preposterous, i suppose i would be offended. Some people “get” this man’s work and love it, and most don’t. Sorry, but, either make some specific criticisms or let’s all talk about something else.
By the way, I actually want to know what you (and others) think of him and his work. But can’t you put some thoughts together? This was just a bunch of jabs.
(also, would love to know what you think is a great filmmaker. a “non-imposter”. I can’t wait for this)
David, you haven’t actually made any clear criticism of the film, except for the fact that you don’t like the characters.
If he’s a pretender, what’s he pretending to be? What are his aims, and how does he fail in achieving them? What has he actually done wrong, and how could he do it better?
It seems like you haven’t actually watched the films, but have just had them playing in front of you while you come up with reasons to dislike them.
yeah, you’d swear he was Michael Bay or something. I mean, why jab at this Mother F@#ker? he struggled his whole f-ing life to make personal films. point your anger elsewhere, man. did some girl you like dis you while saying she would’ve loved to suck on Cassavetes? that is the only explanation here.
“Don’t you guys think that Minnie & Moskowitz would be a good way to start?”
No, this thread proves that the ability to see life the way it is actually lived is the only way to start. If you are comfortably stuck in a Hollywood value system that favors so-called finesse, tempo, wit and “plot-meat” over a truthful exploration of humanity, no Cassavetes film will be a good place to start.
“As with the other Cassavetes I’ve seen, if any of these characters were to come remotely in my vicinity in real life, I’d run screaming and crying in the opposite direction.”
What’s funny about this statement is that, again, it is the typical reaction for first time viewers of the man’s films. I recently showed Faces to a friend of mine and his reaction was almost exactly the same. What’s sad is that, as far as Faces, Minnie and Moskowitz, and many of the major works go, the characters are well-meaning, and flawed but hardly extreme types. The haters are perfectly comfortable spending time with Psycho’s, serial killers and other extreme individuals in their Hollywood favorites, as long as the editing is concise and the photography is pretty, but they “run screaming” from the deeply felt emotions of a couple of wayward but sincere lovers. If you “run screaming” from Minnie and Moskowitz but cozy up to Frank Booth, like most Americans do, you’ve got a pet rock where your heart should be.
“Basically, Cassavetes is Tommy Wiseau.” – David
This is buffoonery. Ya know, after enlightening us all with your impressions of Faces and A Woman Under the Influence, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. Subjectivity goes a long way after all and I allowed for that, but there’s a point to where someone has to actually be straight-forward with you and ask, “What the hell are you expecting to see in a film and how on earth has Cassavettes become such an antithesis of that?”
We get it, you don’t like realistic, unlikable characters – and that’s fine, to each their own even if one’s “own” is completely ignorant of reality. I seem to remember you mentioning in a thread that you’re 40-something years old? You’d think after a lifetime of experiences, you above all people, would be able to relate to what Cassavettes is driving at. The kind of critical ‘quips’ you conjure up are akin to something a high schooler would find logical and clever.
But anyway, that’s all your own personal problems and I don’t want/expect/require any explanation or justification on that. However, put on your thinking cap (ready?) and we’ll try to approach this as objectively as possible (objectivity is not the same as subjectivity, remember?), so what is it (beyond the characters! we get you don’t like the characters – so far this is your only coherent criticism, so forget the characters for a moment and let’s talk “cinematically”) about Cassavettes approach/technique/method that is so like Wasseau?
You’ll probably toss off a response with some kind of quasi-intellectual tone, but if you want anyone to take you seriously, now’s the time to start criticizing Cassavettes films with at least a pinch of validity.
just looked you up. saw you posted that your favorite season is winter and your favorite sport to PLAY is…wait for it… weigh lifting (????)
You only have to look at the list of David’s favourite auteurs to understand that taking him seriously is pretty pointless. I don’t even know why you’re even arguing with a guy whose favourite auteurs include the Coen brothers, Peter Bodganovich, Tim Burton and Oliver Stone.
Nobody has taken Stone seriously since Natural Born Killers. Hell, he’s such a terrible director that even the bloodthirsty Pauline Kael hated him!
yea what an idiot he likes the coen brothers and Oliver Stone… come on that’s a dumb thing to say you’re being just as dismissal as him
Well first, cross-referencing things I do like is spurious. Like saying, your criticism of the color green is invalid, because you like blue and red.
Maybe I can narrow down what it is I don’t like in these films:
It’s not the camerawork or editing
It’s not the lighting or sets
It’s not the use of diegetic audio.
It’s the acting. That actress who plays Moskowitz’s mother in one film, and Falk’s mother in the other. She’s “chewing the scenery” as if she were in a dinner-theater play. And one does start wondering why, if these films are set in SoCal that every other actor speaks in a Brooklynese so thick you can cut it with a knife. As I’ve argued in an earlier post, I’ve been around humans of every class and education… and nobody in real-life flails about with their speech to this degree, nor miusunderstands their partner’s every spoken line like these characters do. There is a little bit of class patronization, idealization, going on in these pictures.
It is the storylines, which I don’t find “natural” at all. Maybe they seem “natural” in comparison, with say, Vincent Minnelli’s MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. I appreciate that Cassavetes was trying to “counter” the big studio style. Bravo to him here.
But these Hallmark-card sentiments of “natural” and “honest”…. I see you’ve been reading the lobby-card poster.
No, in their own way, these stories are every bit as contrived, studied and pitched as any studio picture of the same era.
I’m not saying “Hate these pictures.” What I am saying is, “Don’t be taken in.”
Hi all of you! posted something in here a while ago (and even then I wasn’t new to Cassavetes) but I had a question about a series that he acted in – ‘’Johnny Stacatto’’
well here’s the good news http://tvshowsondvd.com/news/Johnny-Staccato-The-Complete-Series/14319
it’s coming out! on DVD! :)
oh and just to be at least in touch with the topic – Cassavetes is a God of cinema! Watched verything he did (recently his Columbo episode ‘’Etude in black’‘) and now I’m waiting for ‘’Johnny Stacatto’’
Oh, and I remembered – when I started with Cassavetes it was with ‘’Love Streams’’
His Columbo episode is interesting from an acting perspective because of the way, unlike any other episode of the series, during Columbo’s conversations with Cassavetes’ villain he is constantly being interrupted mid-sentence and give back in kind. These aren’t the A-B conversation we normally get from television and a lot of it feels improvised.
I was really drawn in by A Woman Under The Influence. I’d say go with that or Faces.