3-4. A very loose string of observational improv about the divides created by race, the lifestyle that tended to accompany jazz, the beat generation etc. I'm mixed on the effectiveness of the improv part; the actors do feel like real people, but other parts of the film still feel affected, albeit to the advantage of the core material. Grit and viscera grease the plot into cohesiveness, so it works, overall.
This was my first Cassavetes, so why not start with his first? Truly fascinating to see how early Cassavetes showed such legendary potential. He basically created cinematic freedom out of pure necessity, birthing a new era for american (and international) cinema. And as if not enough, "Shadows" is also a noteworthy example and a lesson in film for the no-budget filmmaker. I look forward to see his latter work.
Stylistically anticipating French New Wave, I place it somewhere on-pair with Chabrol's "Les Cousins", expressing a more grim New York setting apart from it's intellectual french counterpart. Less convincing as a figurative piece, but as significant nonetheless, given that much of it's expression can be seen in works of Scorsese ("Taxi Driver" as an obvious one) or Woody Allen.
I can see its importance and the affect it must have had back in its time, but independent cinema would be much better made later, often by Cassavetes himself. This isn't to say it feels aged, it actually very much seems ahead of it's time, and remarkably fresh. An important film in it's vision, but a scratchy and unfinished piece of work, feeling like its lacking some part of it, not quite whole.