Sunday, May 24, 2009

Proposed Film-Discussion Series: "The Original American Independent: John Cassavetes



As of 2007, John Cassavetes is one of only 7 actors to be nominated for Best Directing, Writing, and Acting Oscars over the course of his lifetime. The other 6 are Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, George Clooney, John Huston and Kenneth Brannagh.

American Independent
John Cassavetes: Actor-Writer-Director

Date: Time:
SHADOWS (US 87 min. 1960)
Director: John Cassavettes
Starring: Lelia Goldini, Ben Carruthers
Music: Charlie Mingus
The Beat generation espoused a rejection of mainstream American values, and John Cassavetes's Shadows feels like a relic from that movement, with its improvisatory bebop jazz feeling, cameras in the street, method-style performances, frustration about accepted social norms, and an interracial romance between a hipster white guy (Anthony Ray) and a light-skinned black woman (Leila Goldoni) that eventually takes over the episodic narrative. Cassavetes was pushing the envelope at the time, reacting to the formulaic techniques of Hollywood movies. Shadows will forever have the novelty of coming first—frequently credited with being the pioneer American independent movie.
Jeremiah Kipp, The Criterion Collection, February 14, 2009

Date: Time:
Rosemary's Baby (R 136 min. 1968)
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes
Rosemary's Baby is regarded by many as Roman Polanski's finest achievement. Although it is now 32 years since Poland's enfant terrible brought his adapation of Ira Levin's 1967 novel to the screen, it stands up well to the test of time. Starring Mia Farrow, Ruth Gordon, and John Cassavetes, Rosemary's Baby is a stylish and brilliantly executed set piece, accurately reflecting the New York of the late 1960's. Set in the famous Dakota building - later to become infamous, following the senseless assassination of John Lennon, on its' doorsteps some two decades later - this masterpiece of suspense will chill even the most hot blooded spine.
Customer review,

Date: Time:
FACES (R 129 min. 1968)
Director: John Cassavetes
Starring: Lynn Carlin, John Marley, Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel
Financed by acting jobs in films like The Dirty Dozen and Rosemary's Baby, Faces premièred in 1968 and introduced the landscape that Cassavetes would return to again and again: the unquiet inner lives of those new houses that sprung up in the wake of WWII. John Marley and Lynn Carlin star as a couple testing the limits of their unhappy marriage, he with a call girl (Cassavetes' wife, Gena Rowlands), she with free-spirited gigolo Seymour Cassel. Partly improvised, partly scripted, and partly somewhere between the two, Cassavetes' films have frequently been likened to jazz. Faces bears the stamp of its particular era's jazz; it trades in long stretches of chaos, even ugliness, which produce unexpected passages of grace and beauty. As punishing as that ugliness can be, the graceful bits stick in the memory.
Keith Phipps, The Onion A.V. Club, October 18, 2004

Date: Time:
Director: John Cassavetes
Starring: Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel, Val Avery
"Minnie and Moskowitz" isn't much like anything Cassavetes has done before, except in its determination to go all the way with actors' performances - even at the cost of the movie's over-all form. Cassavetes, an actor himself, is one of the few American directors who is really sympathetic with actors. He lets them go, lets them try new things and take risks. This can lead to terribly indulgent performances, as it did in "Husbands." But in "Minnie and Moskowitz" it gives us performances by Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel that are so beautiful you can hardly believe it.
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, 1997

Date: Time:
Director: John Cassavetes
Starring: Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands,
. . . Gena Rowlands is mezmerizing as the working-class housewife, who buckles under the strain of a limited existece, a brutish husband (Peter Falk, in one of several strong collaborations with Cassavetes), insensitive relatives and an uncaring world. Rowlands is in turn heartbreaking, funny, delightful and a frightening as a woman who is overwhelmed by a desperate inability to stay connected.
TLA Film and Video Guide, 1998-1999

Date: Time:
TEMPEST (PG 140 min. 1982)
Director: Paul Mazursky
Starring: John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Raul Julia, Molly Ringwold
Phillip (John Cassavetes) is a successful New York architect who is fed up with his wife Antonia (Gena Rowlands), his job with a tycoon named Alonzo (Vittorio Gassman) and life in New York City. He wants to travel and dream. That wish is granted when Antonia, who is resurrecting her acreer as an actress, walks out on him. Philip takes their 13-year-old daughter Miranda (Molly Ringwald) to Greece where they meet Aretha (Susan Sarandon), a twice-divorced free spirit from Brooklyn. The threesome find their own little bit of paradise on a Greek island. Its only other inhabitants is Kalibanos (Raul Julia), a crazy man who lives in a cave with his goats.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice


Programmer, with guest co-hosts to be announced

Clayton K. Lowe, Ph.D.
Emeritus faculty, OSU Photography and Cinema; moderator, World Film Classics, TV-25, Educable; producer/co-host, Columbus Museum of Art Film Series; producer/co-host, "It's Movie Time," WCBE 90.5 FM; occasional guest film panelist, "Open Line Weekends," WOSU 820 AM.

For further information contact: