The greatest films of all time as voted on by the Criterion subreddit using a ranked top 10 methodology from…
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.
Viewed 108 minute cut
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is Film-noir at its most shadowy and anti-climatic, favoring the quiet anticipation within the darkness and sparkling city lights instead of blazing dialogue moments and conventional techniques. Ben Gazzara is a magnetic presence, and he grounds the film in a way that prevents the story from crumbling under the weight of Cassavetes' prominent interest in unorthodox styling.
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie feels like another example of a performer gluing a story together from previous remnants, and while I admire the craft, it's another example of a Cassavetes film leaving me lukewarm.
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…
Cassavetes goes impressionistic, plunging his audience into a deep hole filled to the brim with menacing colours and circling shadows. The actual plot revolving around Ben Gazzara's strip club owner Cosmo is extraneous, in fact the whole story is practically revealed in the title alone. But Cassavetes uses his camera to drag us into Cosmo's seedy world that's unraveled quicker than he could have ever imagined. The poster itself is the perfect example of the kind of shot that dominates the film. Cosmo, often drenched in blood red, attempts to make heads or tails of the predicament he's got himself into. From the moment his betting habits get him in trouble, the colour red is always lurking. Fear. Blood. Danger.…
This is one of those films that gets better every time I see it. The film bombed when it came out and quite honestly I still don't hear many people talk about this movie. Unless you're a Cassavetes fan, or a Cinephile I feel like this film is easily forgotten about.
This is the classic Pulp story of a regular working man played by Ben Gazzara that is forced to commit a crime he doesn't want to commit to relieve a gambling debt from the Mafia. The Vitelli character is incredibly charming and I dare say he was the neo-noir version of Ricky in Casablanca. Except he's dating a colored girl,is into gambling and naked girls which makes it so much more interesting.
This is probably my second favorite Cassavetes film.
The 130-minute original cut.
Cassavetes lends the crime genre his distinctive and unique touch.
Has some good 70's grimy scenes, but so much of it really, really drags so badly. However, this is based off of the original cut; it's possible that the shorter re-edit is much more enjoyable.
"I am amazing", mutters the protagonist early on in the movie. The truth is pretty far from that.
bruh he fucked up bad
This was the 1968 version to clarify which omits a half hour of the original running time. I've only seen the original cut and much to my dismay this version did feel like it was missing something. Nonetheless, a powerful film but perhaps my least favorite in the five film criterion release. Some excellent moments (like when Ben goes to kill the mobster, the car scene when they tell him to kill the mobster, and the scenes in the club). Very gritty, it's style is ambiguous, can't really nail it down. The night exteriors translate on screen way more than the day Exteriors although shooting characters in suits and gowns in the day time has a certain charm to it. A very desperate film about desperate characters who share humility. A character study of a good guy who gets mixed up in bad things and the greatest sin of all, owing other people money.
This is the weakest of the Cassavetes I've seen, but cements him as an incredibly strong director and visionary. While the overall structure and narrative of this film could have used a bit of revision (in my opinion), the performances and cinematography are breathtaking. It's condemning of masculinity and all that goes along with that. Gazzara is perfect leading man for this film - he truly inhabited this role. So many incredible sequences throughout. I'm in love.
you know when you're walking around the downtown of your small hometown at about 5 pm on a thursday and you're getting into the seedier part of the downtown and you pass a "bar" with a neon sign with one or two letters out and you look in and there's one girl dancing under neon red lights and in the audience are two or three older men with cigarettes in their mouths and you know one of them is the owner cause he's shaking his head and is looking over paperwork obviously stressed out?
that's this movie (cassavate's best overall movie)
I should have watched the theatrical release edit of this one because the 135 minute version was too dragged out. The "show" that Cosmo Vitelli puts on at the club is enjoyable up to a certain point. Ben Gazzara is excellent though.
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UPDATED: January 28, 2016
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