John Cassavetes

John CassavetesOn this day in 1929, the great American filmmaker John Cassavetes was born. It seems to me that in recent years, younger film lovers have often discounted him. In fact, among some it seems hip to do so. I think you have to be determined to find fault. Either that or you must care for style above all else. Like all artists, Cassavetes has to be seen within his historical context. But even outside that, he made some of the most powerful films ever. And that is why among more mature viewers — and internationally — Cassavetes’ reputation has only grown.

I’ll admit, I’m a special kind of sucker for Cassavetes’ film. He was one of the rarest of creatures: someone who was both idiosyncratic and brilliant. Even the goofy genre film Gloria eschews the formula and tells an interesting story with surprising simplicity. But it isn’t what I most love about his work. For that, you have to go back to Faces and especially A Woman Under the Influence, which is probably Cassavetes’ masterpiece. But if you want a less intense film, you might try, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. It’s a lot like Gloria but not quite so silly:

Happy birthday John Cassavetes!

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