So, I finally saw my first John Cassavetes' film, Husbands (1970), followed shortly after by my second, Gloria (1980). Wow. That is to say, what a diverse pairing of films by the iconic lo-fi director/actor. You can thank such a unique pairing to the New Beverly Cinema (newbevcinema.com) where I would recommend spending much of your free time if you have a serious, intense interest in all types of films. During the semesters, I find I don't often get as much time to spend at this place, but I have yet to have a bad experience--whether it's seeing two I know by heart or, like last night, two that are new to me.
Now, as a cinephile, I have constantly heard good, bad, and ugly things about Cassavetes--as a filmmaker; as an actor, I was acquainted with his turns in The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Rosemary's Baby (1968). Also as a cinephile, I hate to admit, I occasionally can get numbed by watching the plethora of films that I do--this sounds awful, even the dullest film I watch has some effect on me, but I'm stressing that it's a sliding scale. As for Gloria, I was sucked into Gena Rowlands acting--who wouldn't be?--but the film itself was certainly a jump from the more experimental Husbands to a more mainstream effort; complete with an absurd car crash scene. It's funny, but a lot of the problems with Gloria had to do with the score, which drew my mind back to Geuens--the way the strings would swell for maudlin moments was pure manipulation that Cassavetes' earlier work had no traces of (it had a very minimal soundtrack).
Onto Husbands. Holy cow. When I was talking about the kind of numbness and dullness that can pervade any serious film consumption, I was not speaking of Husbands. This film, seriously, was a minor epiphany for me. Hilarious, poignant, and perfect, it probably earned an entrance into the conversation (at least) of my Top 10 films of all-time list. Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Cassavetes are simultaneously wonderful and awful as older, married men coming to terms with their current stations in life. The way Cassavetes does not rely on typical framing (again, noticed Geuens' particular bias left the American director Cassavetes out of these discussions), the way he allows scenes to stretch on, the way the film is paced, acted, edited, all contribute to something fantastic.
I truly could--and eventually will--talk more about Husbands, but other duties (homework; work) make this a short-and-dirty post. Maybe the preeminent film about homosociality, aging, death, and freedom (the film's opening credits note it is: "A comedy about life, death, and freedom," which is nowhere near as cliche as that sounds), it's highly recommended viewing from this camp.