How Do You Spell Summer Cool? C-A-S-S-A-V-E-T-E-S
Remembering John Cassavetes and his Bleeding Cinematic Heart
After 12 summer sessions with a Jungian shrink, Poppa H has come to understand I have a “thing” for dead existentialists, specifically risk taking iconoclastic writer/actor/directors (Eric Von Stroheim, Nicholas Ray, Orson Welles, John Cassavetes) who are literally burning mad with the passion to tell stories about the bittersweet human condition. What a breakthrough.
courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
Hanging In The Den Of Cassavetes Cool
As I strolled back to my beatnik pad 150 dollars lighter, I came to my own conclusion that what this summer’s sequel-fiasco-fest is missing is some burning madness, a beating heart and some anguished souls—so this week, I’m on the hunt for a slice of some cinematic truth.
Since I won’t bloody well find it at the cineplex, I tried ringing Gramophone Video and the king of tough love John Cassavetes who dropped this pearl of wisdom on me in the Cult Film Section, “Filmmakers should be aware that they don’t know anything …” Wow, I couldn’t have said it better Johnny, keep talking … “I feel the world is very chicken,” Cassavetes said. “We have been sold a bill of goods as a substitute for life …” Talk about existential truth …
Since the ghost of Cassavetes said it better than any living person I found on my search, today it seems only fitting we salute the master’s gritty, heart-wrenching oeuvre. If you have no idea who John Cassavetes is, shame on you.
But, don’t bother playing catch-up by checking out Ze Gramophone as I rented every Cassavetes film in their library. You’ll have to wait, cause this weekend (for once) I know what I’m doing. Forget rest and sunshine, I’m ripping the phone jack from the wall and inviting my maddest friends over to hole up in a rundown motel with me, a loaded .45 and a carton of smokes for a Cassavetes movie marathon of cinematic truth … Now that’s burning mad happiness …
courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
If you’re like me and in the mood for take-out, check out The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), a Cassavetes primer that’s packing a few existential proverbs from one of John’s slime-ball poet angels—Ben Gazzara …
“What’s your truth is my falsehood and what’s my falsehood is your truth. But let’s let that go … I’m only happy when I’m angry, when I’m sad, when I can play the fool, when I can be what people want me to be rather than be myself you understand, that takes work … you gotta work overtime for that … doesn’t matter who you are or what personality you choose.”
This is how it is, this is how it was and this is how it should be, ya dig? Now that you’ve had a crash course in rough-and-tumble Cassavetes Cinema, rent these flicks and get to the truth man … and get real ... With any luck, you’ll stay real (at least until the next episode of American Idol). This is MRF signing off. Until we meet again, be bad and, get into trouble baby*.
Cassavetes DVD Pics to Click
• Mikey and Nicky (1976) Dir. May
• A Woman Under the Influence (1974) Dir. Cassavetes
• Faces (1968) Dir. Cassavetes
• Shadows (1959) Dir. Cassavetes
Happenings Round Town:
• Desperate Living (1977) Dir: Waters – Bridge (starts Friday)
• Crazy Love (2006) Dir. Klores
Volume 20 Footnotes*
• “Let’s get into trouble baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.