Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
A Woman Under the Influence
Peter Falk is a blue collar man trying to deal with his wife's mental instability. He fights to keep a semblance of normality in the face of her bizarre behavior, but when her actions affect their children, he has her committed
A devastating masterwork of one woman's downward spiral and a dry, humanist deconstruction of acceptable social politics. It is a film about family, commitment, desperation, redemption, endurance and the struggles of the working class. It is a film that sucked me right in with jaw-loosening, goosebumps-inducing acting. Gena Rowlands transforms herself. She becomes the distraught Mabel, an unimaginable character. It is so unconventional and uncompromising what she does in the first half, slowly losing her sense of "normal" public and private behavior. Her performance is nothing short of astonishing. Is she becoming mentally ill, or has she always been this way? Is she really mentally sick at all? The conclusion of her mental state lays entirely on the viewer. This…
Departures and homecomings
Always on the edge
Frames or otherwise.
Truth in the eyes.
Hate repeating old party lines on Letterboxd (is there anything more pointless than 100 reviews that all say “X actor really gives his/her all!”?), but must admit how much I’m struck by the control of Cassavetes’s camera in every scene; the incorrectly assumed improvisation is really the work of a master. What is more striking is that most of the important visual information is often teetering on the edges of the frame. One really great example is when Mabel goes to the bar. On the bottom of the frame, her hand pops in and out just enough so we can glimpse her ring finger. The hand…
If you ever want to experience the cohesion of a director with his actors at its peak this is surely it. Both Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk out on life-changing performances which are captured and brought out perfectly by John Cassavetes. The emotional turmoil and the dark depths of the human mind are aired like dirty laundry in a truly disturbing but completely fascinating manor. The struggles and fights that mark the low-points of marriage and love is what gives birth to these performances of true realism by the two lead actors, and it is emotionally beautiful in the most depressing way possible. A truly amazing film.
I think I may have made a mistake viewing this movie before most of the other Cassavetes directorial efforts. This is a movie that should make most currently working directors green with envy, a film that should make them rethink their careers, and what they truly want to accomplish with film. This intimate, wholly real, incredibly moving and involving film is miles above most of the works I've seen from anyone else so far.
Rowlands again commands complete attention in this film; as Mabel, the wife of a hard working city employee, and mother of three young children, she is a woman that has been struggling under the various familial and societal demands being forced upon her for what we…
I have always heard of the great work of John Cassavetes – the fact that he is, arguably, the one of most influential and important figures in the history of American Independent Cinema (‘The Father’, some have said). I knew I needed to see his films, but I never really took the time to seek out his work. That is until my then-girlfriend, now-wife, purchased the John Cassavetes: Five Films boxed set from the Criterion Collection (one in a long list of reasons I wholeheartedly love my wife). Not only did she buy the box set off of eBay, but she got the Chinese version (a knockoff more than likely). Hell, the DVD for Opening Night is spelled Opening Hight.…
The John Cassavetes Love-Hate meter is firmly on Love. Unlike Husbands, there is not a single moment in this film that you feel like you are watching people act.
GENA FUCKING ROWLANDS
It's hard to describe. It really just feels. Which in large part is the tapestry Cassavetes was aiming for throughout all his films. Love Streams and Opening Night come very close to matching A Woman Under the Influence, but given how self-contained it is within this little home - along with the fact that Rowlands has something close to a match in Falk - it comes together as Cassavetes' most complete work.
Gena Rowlands. That's all.
what a crazy film with crazy people...it drives you crazy
Cassavetes's film personifies its themes by having the same effect on us that's endured by its characters. There are some scenes where we don't really understand why anybody's doing anything they're doing. Everything sometimes seems like people are firing off impulses and creating chaos. So we try to understand, only to feel as dumbfounded as its characters. The film doesn't mean to boggle us, but to indent our perspective and adjust to its own looking glass.
Pointless melodramatic exploitative manipulative working class wankery. This is the kind of movie Barton Fink might write. Dollar store pseudophilosophical nonsense ("who's the REALLY crazy one?? eh???"). Bleh. The running time is completely pointless and goes unused: despite 155 minutes to work with, we never really get to know the characters because they're so badly written, wandering from one unconnected set-piece to the next. Don't even get me started on the camerawork.
The wide acclaim for the performances had me thinking I watched the wrong movie. Falk yells literally every line. Even when he's whispering he is yelling. What is that? Is it supposed to be intense? It was just ridiculous. Rowlands isn't much better, as she goes far over the top and appears entirely artificial. What illness is she trying to portray, anyway? And those goddamned shrieking children on top of it all...
I'd be happy if just one or two films each year looked and felt like this one. Sadly, they don't make 'em like this anymore.
Fantastic. A Woman Under the Influence was a brilliant character and relationship study. It was rich and full of depth and had me hooked within the first few minute. Gene Rowlands' performance was phenomenal. She managed to portray so much with such subtle movement. The entire film was about brilliant subtleties that felt so real I often questioned whether they were written into the script or just a perfect happenstance as a result of the leads performances. With the six month break in the middle I too truly felt that it been six months since I'd last seen Mabel and could feel the change within the atmosphere of the film. Save for the few technical flaws (i.e. lack of focusing, sound issues, etc.) it was a wonderful experience that had me cringing at the abuse and love all wrapped into one flawed but perfect relationship.
Maybe one of my new favourite films, and definitely my favourite Cassavetes so far. Actually, after reading the interview included in Citerion's booklet, I think my might change that for favourite Cassavetes's crew's film. The visible or assumed presence of objects—or sometimes emotions—is crucial to the AWUTI's dynamism and it is hard to believe the liberty camera operators and other barely credited workers were left. I feel bad about how much I praise some artists without having a single idea of what's true or not behind the art/craft. That is not to disrespect Cassavetes himself though (I'd never do that!). Filmmaking rarely feels as close to nature as it does when he's at the helm. His films don't sleep, but…
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most recent update - Thursday, March 6, 2014, 11:42 PM EST
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