Director of the Month Project

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"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



I am still going to watch probably just not finishing Shadows.
Sorry i misread your post then. Even if you don't want to anymore that's cool, thanks for taking part with me.



Opening Night


I really loved this and even feel I might be under rating it. Very simple story that is just completely character driven. Rowlands is the main character and is wonderful but I enjoy Cassavetes and Gazzara playing off of her almost as much.

For some reason I love these kind of mid-life crisis films. Put them in the right hands and they can be funny and sad while always being completely engaging. That is exactly what Opening Night is. Not much to say, it is simply a delight.




A Woman Under The Influence




I watched this for The Fifth Hall of Fame years ago, that was my first Hall of Fame. For some reason i didn't like it, i can't remember why but i distinctly remember having it last on the list i sent in. No idea why it didn't work for me then as i apparently didn't review it; i'm guessing i found it boring or something. Well nah this is a really great film that deserves the praise it gets.

This is such a distressing film, it's like walking on eggshells: the movie. It feels like Mabel is going to explode or crumble in every scene and yet it's completely unpredictable. She plays it so wide-eyed with weird hand gestures and odd conversation choices, even at scenes like the dinner with Nick's friends she comes across happy and fun for most of it but her behaviour is still extremely concerning. I think that's what Rowlands pulls off spectacularly, a character that up to say the dinner scene you really know little about her actually the only major action you've seen from her is a bad one: cheating on Nick (although it's iffy whether she was raped or not, she was resisting then she was in bed confused with no recollection of the guy; i think it is sexual assault anyway as she couldn't have possibly given consent in the state she was in considering she was drunk as well) and still she manages to really make you care about her wellbeing. I mean anytime she is left alone it's just no this isn't going to end well, like her saying before Nick leaves "i can hardly wait until the kids get home. suddenly i miss everyone" followed by her excitement waiting for them is so heartbreaking. One of the worst things about that is that scene demonstrates so well that she completely adores her kids yet you're thinking she shouldn't be alone with them until she gets help, the playdate following that is so tough to watch; just an adult other than her husband judging her behaviour around her kids is not nice to watch at all. Well anyway don't think there's much point in going on about her performance everyone knows she is great, it's probably the best portrayal of mental illness.

Falk is excellent too. It really is crazy to see the cool, calm Columbo falling apart constantly being angry, shouting every third line of dialogue, etc. I do find some of his actions puzzling like bringing all of those guys to the house for dinner unannounced when he knows how troubled she is not to mention shouting at and hitting her, but then there's no way to tell how you'd react to this ridiculously tough situation. One complaint with the film for me is i'd have liked to have seen more of him dealing with life without Mabel, that could've been a really great subplot as the few scenes we do get before Mabel comes back are excellent. Kinda disappointed that they quickly skip to her returning. So this has to be one of the best acted films ever the only performance i think is bad is Nick's mum during the doctor scene. No idea how she ended up laughably over the top when Gena Rowlands is literally playing someone who is insane and came across subtle in comparison, "she's crazy, she's crazy, she's crazy" she almost ruined that great scene.

Anyway, really powerful film and most likely the best portrayal of mental illness. Really glad i gave it another shot, not sure what it didn't work the first time exactly. One last thing is that i really like the ending, i don't think her being better or something drastic like her killing herself would be that satisfying. The ending shows of us all possible out comes without committing to one, we see that she is still in a very fragile mental state and now we know she is a self-harm risk something that wasn't explicitly confirmed in the rest of the film, but from the tucking the kids into bed part on we see what life could be like if she gets better and that things aren't entirely hopeless. Great film.

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The HOF was the first time I saw Woman as well Camo. I liked it a lot though and haven't really ever stopped thinking about either of those performances. Looking forward to a rewatch.



I need to get on this, Im such a slacker. I might be to busy watching Lawrence Of Arabia in 70mm though



I need to get on this, Im such a slacker. I might be to busy watching Lawrence Of Arabia in 70mm though
I will trade. You can watch Woman on Filmstruck on my 40" TV. I will go see Lawrence in glorious 70mm.



The HOF was the first time I saw Woman as well Camo. I liked it a lot though and haven't really ever stopped thinking about either of those performances. Looking forward to a rewatch.
I'm kinda baffled i didn't get into it as it's kinda exactly right for me. I checked the thread but apparently i didn't review it. All i remember is being really impressed with Rowlands but not liking the film that much as a whole.

Going to watch Shadows in the next few days.



Shadows




Yeah i didn't like this at all. I hated the way it was edited, the sound, i came to hate the jazz music which i didn't mind at first. Felt pretty much the same as you Sean, the only saving grace was its shortish length which is the only reason i got through the whole thing. Some of the story (if you could even call it that, it was extremely disjointed as far as i could tell) seemed interesting but i could barely concentrate on it; just a horribly unpleasant film to actually look at and listen to. Glad the other two left seem to be more in the vain of A Woman Under The Influence because i wouldn't have been able to sit through something like this again.




Shadows




Yeah i didn't like this at all. I hated the way it was edited, the sound, i came to hate the jazz music which i didn't mind at first. Felt pretty much the same as you Sean, the only saving grace was its shortish length which is the only reason i got through the whole thing. Some of the story (if you could even call it that, it was extremely disjointed as far as i could tell) seemed interesting but i could barely concentrate on it; just a horribly unpleasant film to actually look at and listen to. Glad the other two left seem to be more in the vain of A Woman Under The Influence because i wouldn't have been able to sit through something like this again.

Like 75 minutes and I still don't have the energy to finish it. Definitely a snapshot in time I am not interested in. No offense Cassavetes if you are reading.



A Woman Under The Influence



Man I really loved this second time around. I already had great respect for it and it certainly hasn't left my mind. The story is really well done. If you don't feel the weight of what is happening with this woman and her family you probably don't want to. What elevates it so much for me, and most it seems, are the performances. Rowlands and Falk are simply perfect. Maybe some will be turned off by Rowlands affectations, but I think she inhabits this character in a very powerful way.

I love Falk in this so much. He makes some decisions that are abhorrent but I have a ton of sympathy for this character. This is a man that has no idea to give of himself to others and it makes him monstrous at times. On the other hand he wants nothing more than for everything to be better for his family and he is trying to make that happen by sheer force of will. There are many scenes where you can see this played out but my favorite, and probably one of my favorite scenes ever, is the one where he takes his kids to the beach. His wife has gone away for a while and he decides that he and the kids need to have a relaxing day at the beach. The scene is both hilarious and heart breaking. First off it doesn't even appear to be beach weather. This doesn't faze him, he goes and gets the kids from school with his work buddy. They arrive at the beach no more than half prepared. Falk's character is literally dragging his kids from spot to spot trying to force a relaxing time on them. When the kids try to rest on their towel or go with their sibling he grabs them by the arm and drags them to where he thinks they should be as if to say "here, have a fun day damnit". I will never think of the term bull in a china shop again without imagining this moment and this character.

So many great scenes in this film. Very excited I got the chance to watch it again. It really is a fantastic film. Excited for you to watch @Camo.



Like 75 minutes and I still don't have the energy to finish it. Definitely a snapshot in time I am not interested in. No offense Cassavetes if you are reading.
It was just so difficult to sit through. I respect it for its significance in Independent Film history as well as bravely telling a racial story in the 50's but yeah not for me.


So many great scenes in this film. Very excited I got the chance to watch it again. It really is a fantastic film. Excited for you to watch @Camo.
I already did, you commented on my review and everything

Good review, agreed with pretty much everything. The beach scene is great i also really like the car ride when they are drinking beers too. As i said i wish there was more of Falk and the kids, think they went to Rowlands return a bit too soon.



It was just so difficult to sit through. I respect it for its significance in Independent Film history as well as bravely telling a racial story in the 50's but yeah not for me.



I already did, you commented on my review and everything

Good review, agreed with pretty much everything. The beach scene is great i also really like the car ride when they are drinking beers too. As i said i wish there was more of Falk and the kids, think they went to Rowlands return a bit too soon.
Good Lord, I am committed to too much of this stuff, I don't even know where I am.

I keep forgetting the name of the fourth film but I have it coming this week. After Opening Night and Influence I am pretty excited to see it.



Good Lord, I am committed to too much of this stuff, I don't even know where I am.

I keep forgetting the name of the fourth film but I have it coming this week. After Opening Night and Influence I am pretty excited to see it.
It's called Love Streams. It seems to be the one most often called his best after Influence so i'm really looking forward to it as well. Watching Opening Night tomorrow.



Opening Night




Man Gena Rowlands is so great. Cassavetes owed a tonne to her as i don't think this or Influence would be anywhere near as good as they are without her. I'm much more impressed with her acting than any part of Cassavetes filmmaking. She's so intense, i've seen her categorized as over the top which i can see but to me it's just really animated since that's the roles she is taking. Something i've noticed in a lot of different films that i've never understood the purpose of is editing scenes so they end really abruptly; to me it's very jarring as it doesn't feel like the scene is finished then boom next scene. Sean brought up some of Cass' editing probably being due to the film (Shadows) being damaged but i doubt this sort of thing can be present in all three i've seen from him if it's not deliberate, think it's some experimental thing he's doing which to me does nothing more than make the film that bit more annoying to watch. Shadows was a thousand times worse than Influence or this for it but still i don't see any point in it, i mean there's literally a scene that cuts Gena Rowlands out mid-sentence. If i was more cynical i'd say that he is a good writer with an outstanding leading lady who liked to mess about with random techniques that usually didn't work but i won't, think i'd need to see more of his films to argue something like that. Still i am getting put off with some of his choices, like this film didn't need to be as long as it is IMO. A Woman Under The Influence was the perfect length actually i'd have liked it to be a little longer with some extra Falk and the kids scenes, this film felt like it was repeating itself for large parts of the film though, could have easily been 40 minutes shorter. Anyway those were my main problems that kept this back from reaching A Woman Under The Influence levels, still liked it. Another thing actually is i'm not sure if i'm a fan of the young fan dying at the start, kinda felt like it was too on the nose for a mid life crisis film; made me cringe at some of the later dialogue. The "Im not ready to play grandmothers yet" scene especially. I agree with Sean that it was both funny and sad at times, i just felt like i was going round in circles at one point. Also enjoyed Cassavetes but Gazzara was just okay. Solid film (and very welcome after Shadows) but not a favourite.


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Love Streams


Have to echo what Camo said in his Opening Night review about Rowlands. She has been a revelation for me in the last three Cassavetes films I watched. The fact that she did way more TV than film and is most well known for her Cassavetes films makes me wonder if his style is partly responsible for how great she is in these films. I absolutely loved this film. I just enjoy relaxing and letting the humanity of his films wash over me. They are virtually plotless but long and full of life, you feel like you are there living with these characters. I love the way they end as well, it adds to this experience because it doesn't really feel like there is an end. It is as if things will just continue as they have for the last two and a half hours.

The scene that best exemplifies this film and what it is trying to say for me was when Cassavetes character brings his son back to his mother. His son has been trying to get his attention and run from him for days. He defies him and acts as if he could care less about him. Yet when he sees his father in pain he begins to yell and tell his dad how much he loves him. It is a great moment and has so much emotion and character development in a simple scene. It really spotlights how much I think Cassavetes does with character moments.

As we finish up Cassavetes I have a couple of random thoughts. First Love Streams might be my favorite movie title ever. Secondly I am enamored with Cassavetes preoccupation with drinking. Can't tell if he is on board with his characters drinking or if he feels it is as self-destructive as it comes across. All this makes me think I really need to rewatch Faces. I despised that film but definitely need to give it another chance. A few more to seek out as well. Three great films watched for this in September.




Love Streams




I'm not sure if this was better than A Woman Under The Influence but i liked it a little more. It definitely took a bit to get going, i mean i didn't really know where it was heading for quite a while. Still even during those parts i thought the Rowlands divorce proceeding scene was great; it was plodding along nicely even though i wasn't finding anything that great. It wasn't until Robert meets his son that i started to love this. Came in expecting to be blown away by Rowlands again and i was, but Cass was incredible himself; arguably better. It feels odd that i got so into a character like this since he could be pretty vile and most of all he felt almost unreadable to me. In the short time he was with Albie he shifted from disinterested: casually saying hi to the child he hasn't seen since he was a kid and more or less saying he can stay i don't really care, to likeable and genuinely interested and concerned about the kid, to a fck up: leaving him in the hotel room, finally back to concerned and sorry for what he'd done. Thing is the way this was written it didn't feel like a straightforward plot progression of deadbeat dad meets kid doesn't care at first then cares then messes up then is sorry, even though that's what happened it felt more like his character was completely unpredictable and most likely unstable in a low-key way, subject to change his entire mood on a whim. There was no Kramer vs Kramer big grand 'i now can't live without my son' moments which made it feel so different. Another reason for this is that while Roberts actions are all over the place in this fairly brief time his mood barely changes, the only actual outpour of emotion from him is when he hugs and holds onto him when he comes back to the hotel room. During this i've kinda criticized some aspects of Cassavetes filmmaking, particularly visually but i think he's really great at writing characters and when he plays himself like here he absolutely knocks it out of the park because he knows exactly what he wants and he is a talented enough actor to bring it to life. Excellent performance; well writing+acting combination from Cass. Most of my praise in these films has been for Rowlands acting and she is no different here, she's an insanely talented woman who Cass was very lucky to have in his films (and as his wife of course) but i was more impressed with Cassavetes himself. Probably because i wasn't expecting it.

One thing i initially thought was a problem was it not being properly revealed why her daughter hated her so much, she said during the custody case that she hated going to funerals with her and she hated the way she is, but i didn't really get what that meant. As it went on though i realized the point was to reveal what she is like through her scenes with Robert which answered all of this for me, think it was very well done. Both of them were excellent together, not surprising since they were husband and wife of course. Playing siblings had to have been a bit of a challenge though as brother/sister love is obviously a different thing from romantic love. They could have easily have phoned it in and just played it as a couple without the kissing/touching and i wouldn't have even thought about it but they didn't. There was clearly boundaries for them but clearly alot of caring, it felt real to me. The best thing about it is that Cassavetes gave his audience alot of credit which i appreciate, he dropped us right in the middle of an established relationship, there was no trying hard to show the audience that they cared for each other. I love my siblings but it's not as if every time i see them we outwardly express the fact that we love each other, that love is implied by the simple fact that we/they are brother and sister and Cassavetes drops us right in with that implication and starts portraying a normal sibling relationship. As it goes on we see their relationship portrayed more deeply but i really respect the initial simplicity of it, think it definitely amped up the powerful scenes later like what i'd call the first when Robert is telling Sarah that she is the best. So many other films in my experience (unintentionally i suspect) portray brother and sister as if they've just met and this wasn't like that at all to me.

Anyway excellent film. I think Cassavetes strength clearly lies in writing characters and especially making you care about them. Like the scene Sarah is trying way too hard to impress her ex and her daughter by the pool is one of the toughest things to watch ever to me and it wouldn't be that way by the scene itself it's all the work Cassavetes has put in prior to this that makes it work so much. Really love what you said here Sean btw as i think it's exactly right:
I love the way they end as well, it adds to this experience because it doesn't really feel like there is an end. It is as if things will just continue as they have for the last two and a half hours.
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