Director: John Cassavetes
Writer: John Cassavetes
Cinematographer: Mitchell Breit and Al Ruban
by Tory Maddox
A bonus feature features an interview with Ben Gazzara who was initially frustrated with the movie. He didn’t get it. Why would John Cassavettes - the father of moder independent cinema - desire to make a genre piece? John sat him down and said Ben was missing the idea. It was a film about crushed dreams and the integrity required to maintain them. It represented John’s view of all the producers and money men who tried to tell him how to make his films throughout the years. Coincidentally, if you read the '76 New York Times review we discover this film also fell victim to the financier's editing, cutting down Cassavete's original 138 minute vision to 108 minutes of incoherence (which he'd later get back to critical acclaim).
Like John’s other work this movie is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There’s something so real that it becomes heartbreaking. Cosmo (Gazzara) owns a rundown strip club called Crazy Horse. All of the strippers are non-actors, hosted by the bizarre emcee played by Cassavete's screenwriter Robert Meade in truly one of the great non-actor performances of all time.
Cosmo falls into a $23,000 gambling debt while out with his stripper girlfriends and is forced to assassinate a Chinese crime lord in reparation. He agrees and the movie is a brilliant, intense, and thrilling story as Cosmo tries to retain his club against all odds. It’s a film that makes you excited to finish John’s filmography and see what other magic he delivers. This man was determined to make art with cinema. He despised the studio system that aimed to churn out a homogenous crop of films year after year. 35 years later and the issues John explores are still prominent. Just as they struggled in 1978, people are still fighting to make personal films. Some have the courage to do whatever it takes, others do not. He admired fellow filmmakers John Boorman and Robert Altman as they put their deepest fears onto the screen. He respected all those who attempted to do the same and fought to maintain their dreams and express themselves without impediment.
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