All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
A proud strip club owner is forced to come to terms with himself as a man, when his gambling addiction gets him in hot water with the mob, who offer him only one alternative.
Road House's super baddie Ben Gazzara as a strip club owner with a gambling addiction. When his debt blazes out of control, he's forced to commit a deadly sin in John Cassavetes's sweaty lusty intoxicating film noir. Large ketchup bottle. Stiff drink. Ben Gazzara's white leisure suit. Meaningful meaningless chit-chat. The way Ben Gazzara smokes. Vince's nose. Big pimpin' Seymour Cassel. Bootleg Strip Club DJ. Champagne hottie. Real motherfuckers drink Dom Pérignon straight from the bottle. Pitch-perfect piano music. John Cassavetes's directing skills blow me away. The way his lens captures everyday life and raw human emotion is straight money. Sexy as fuck striptease. Runaway tits. Poetic poetry. Shaggy doggie. The Shining Poster Playboy Playmate. Seymour Cassel wasn't born old?…
Ben Gazzara's performance here is one of those that so captures an actor's essence that it would be pointless to think about anyone else in the role. Beyond all the Cassavetes grace notes-- the dingy texture of the nightclub, the evident affection for his cast of outcasts and rogues, the dread-inducing inevitability of the title-- there's Gazzara, a wannabe big-shot who lacks the means, the common sense, and the luck to lead the kind of life he feels he deserves. His gregariousness becomes tragic.
You'll never guess what happens to the Chinese bookie.
It's been a long time since a film has instantly pushed to near the top of my favorite movies of all time. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is one of those occasions.
Cassavetes is a master of eliciting emotions through the most simple of verite style. Without broad sweeps of orchestration or tacky explanations, we truly see the troubled psyche of Cosmo Vittelli (played masterfully by Ben Gazzara) as he goes deeper and deeper down a self destructive rabbit hole in hopes of making something of himself.
I love how the strip club feels sad and dirty. I love the clown figure that works at the strip club (an ode to Sternberg's "The Blue Angel?). I love the realism…
Portrait of the artist as a corrupt man. Portrait of the art as the byproduct of a corrupt world. What Cassavetes achieves here in terms of style is a magnificent symbiosis of references, with Ben Gazzara as his surrogate artist caught in a scenario that is at once noir, expressionist and impressionist. Plot is secondary and becomes but an excuse to delve into the characters' psychology and visions of themselves through the focus on faces and outward expressions. Style, however, is elevated to new heights of meaning as the characters move from light to shadows and back, and from inside to outside the frame. (Al Ruban's and Mitch Breit's cinematography is excellent and appropriate). The very masculine and very beautiful Gazzara (yes, that matters) is the quintessential movie man, but such an idealized impression coexists with the tragic entrapment of life's fragility. Freedom is impossible, and art can do only so much. Or something.
The poster gives you an accurate representation of the shadows and moody reds that the film basks in. Released around the pivotal dirtiest city period of Taxi Driver, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie might as well be the West coast equivalent in look and feel. A Cassavetes noir. Seemingly everyone is corrupt and out to get something. The faces are lived in and molded by crime. The gangsters are dripping with sleaze and menace in equal measure.
Ben Gazzara is asked to represent this height of proud sleaze culture as the strip club owner Cosmo who is in way over his head with gambling debts. Even once filming commenced, he was hesitant in how to approach the character. Cassavetes…
brilliant neo-noir.... I assume
+ Elizabeth Deering (I guess?)
- Felt like I could cry about 4 minutes in and I don't know why
I saw the 108 re-edit version of the film even though both were provided in the Criterion release. Basically a Cassavettes intense character study, hung loosely on a genre premise but one in which the gangsters are not glamorized at all; these are not good guys, you don't want to be them and you don't want to be around them. Gazzara is fantastic in the lead role, showing many conflicting aspects of the character in a deeply believable way.
Rarely are my expectations radically exceeded, but I suppose when you subject yourself to a master's vision, anything can happen.
It is difficult for me to compare this films to others, for it works on a completely different dimension to that of normal films. The plot here is as thin as can be, and dozens of scenes are credited to atonal musical pieces, absurd and surreal stripteases, and highly voyeuristic walking scenes.
Indeed, this film is, for me, the epitome of 'nothing happens'. Nobody develops. Everyone remains the same, despite their physical, emotional and psychological revelations. It is a film in which aesthetics reign supreme.
The aesthetics of this film, to me, are unreal. It feels as the movie…
what made John Cassavetes think he could get away with something like this and who on earth let him? Gazzara is so bizarre, real and captivating.
1976 version (135m)
I guess John Cassavetes is not for me. It is no secret that Cassavetes is a huge misogynist. I am not one of those people who will avoid watching a director's films due to their personal beliefs and past wrongdoings. In The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Cassavetes completely objectifies women. The main character's story mirrors Cassavetes' vision and struggles that he faced along the way. The main character in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie uses women to bring in money to his strip club. Cassavetes is known for using naked women to sell his films. This is one of the most glacially slow films I have had the misfortune of seeing. Very little happens in the course of…
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 189/764 (25%)