Took me a second viewing and the knowledge that the production was unscripted to fully appreciate the whole thing. There are some moments where the improvisation is very apparent but overall the acting is great and the film flows nicely enough. Felt it lacked something but I can't quite figure out what yet. Will certainly be rewatching at some point.
A milestone of independent cinema, as Cassavetes took improvisations from theatre and filmed them in a provocative, naturalistic style, a rebuke at both the studio system and method acting. The jazz affectations may have dated a little, but in most other ways Shadows is decades ahead of its time, particularly in its depiction of a sleazy, neon-lit NYC of strippers, beat writers, grimy bars and dubious boyfriends.
The feature debut from John Cassavetes, Shadows is an impressive independent feature that looks at looks at race and how it affects the lives of the central characters, mainly three siblings who don't always want to compromise while society insists that they do.
Solid first effort from Cassavetes, with beautiful location 16 mm photography of New York, a hip jazz score, and a racially charged storyline. It doesn't really succeed in all areas, but it doesnt really have to. It is so fresh and new and vibrant feeling, any shortcomings are rendered moot. An indie classic. 4.5 stars
"THE FILM YOU HAVE JUST SEEN WAS AN IMPROVISATION" Sort of the birth of real American Indie Cinema (post-Studio era), this is sort of a non-documentary "cinema verité," taking inspiration from Italian Neorealism (and other similar movements). Very raw and unfinished, but still very vibrant and powerful. It was promoted as improvisational, so the style works. You don't have to suspend disbelief or anything.
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.
Qunitessential raw modernist cinema, owing its justified reputation in the sheer vitality and spontaneous bombardment of glances, gestures, facial expressions truthfully unadorned. This brisk experiment in beatnik homiletics traverses the paths of existentialism, psychoanalysis, booze, jazz, flirt, verité eruptions of anger and indignation on the way to painfully rethining identities -racial and others.