Dir: John Cassavetes
December 4, 2009
I got a friend to go to the MFA for a screening of this tonight and then go out to the bars, because, judging by what the description said, I figured it would be appropriate to get drunk afterwards. Man-o-man, this is one heck of an experience. Hilarious, gut-wrenching, silly, serious, and flat out great. Watching a Cassavetes film is like no other visual experience you have. When one of their best friends dies, a single night of grieving drunkenness turns into a three-day drinking binge that ends up in London as the three middle aged buddies left alive are ankle-deep in grief. The opening with the flashback of their friend Stu and the bass-line music is incredible. Of course, the power of this film doesn’t come from the situation Peter Falk (Archie), Cassavetes (Gus), and Ben Gazzara (Harry) are thrown into, at least not in the sense of a dramatic structure, but rather from the awkward and painful sequences they share with others. My friend is certainly no film snob and he absolutely loved this too. It’s telling too (not sure I should be telling this but whatevs), because a week ago he told me he got profoundly drunk and spent the entire evening texting/calling an ex-girlfriend as well as the girl he is currently obsessed with to tell them that he was going to kill himself (not really seriously, I guess, but the example works well). That’s kind of what this is, though the movie never really goes that far. Most of that stuff is just implied, which is, of course, what makes Cassavetes so brilliant. The ending is also amazing, in the sense that it isn’t even an ending at all. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a more open-ended conclusion in any other film. That’s kind of a problem too, because while the film is 150 minutes long, it does ultimately feel a little too short. Maybe it’s because drunk people are just so damn riveting, and Cassavetes is probably the very best at photographing drunk people. Add this to the awesome list.
Oh yeah, you wanna know why Cassavetes died at 59 from cirrhosis of the liver? He (they all do actually) pounds all the brews and booze in the film for real. Talk about method acting...