All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. 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.
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.…
Top class dying.
There's a cohesive story in this impenetrable John Cassavetes character study that becomes more apparent in his 1978 re-edit, which moves faster, has some scenes in a different order, uses alternate or unique-to-that-version takes, runs 25 minutes shorter, and is certainly the more commercially viable cut of the film. But it's his original 1976 version, running a frequently grueling 134 minutes, that's quintessential Cassavetes. It's also got one of the great Ben Gazzara performances: as Cosmo Vitelli, the owner of the Crazy Horse West, the most oppressive burlesque show/strip club you'll ever see, Gazzara is all hubris and swagger, a perpetual small-timer trying to run with the big dogs. Shooting his mouth off and trying to look like a player…
I think I prefer the longer cut because it allowed the entire film to be imbued with more dread gradually, and also gave more time for Cosmo to grok what was going on. The beginning doesn't work quite as well for me because he's not made to be apart from his club for so long at the beginning, thus reducing the emphasis on his initial unhappiness. The shorter length and relative conciseness of this cut gives the odd impression of making a movie that is only marginally interested in its own plot feel very focused on it by allowing for less looseness in between. There are a few noticeably longer scenes, including the discussion in advance of the…
(First viewing of 1976 cut; all previous viewings had been of 1978 cut only.)
One of those films that is not quite a character portrait, but only because it's not overly interested in the psychological motivations of Vitelli. Yes, we happen to learn a lot about him from how he handles various situations--maybe most important, we learn that he's not someone who seems to know how to handle success; he almost needs to be backed into a corner, not that he especially fancies himself at being good at getting out of jams, but more that he needs to feel needed. But Cassavetes is mostly interested in Gazzara's performance as a character who is always giving a performance, one that has…
Kind of wish I'd seen the shorter cut.
Killing of a Chinese Bookie filminde kameranın adeta bağımsız bir varlığı vardır. Açılış sahnesinde, kamera, Cosmo Vitelli’yi isteksiz bir biçimde takip eder. Cosmo bir bara girer ve bir şeye bakar. Kamera bir an onu takip etmek yerine bize Cosmo’nun az önce baktığı şeyi gösterir. Kameranın bu isteksizliği, filmin konusu hakkında bize önceden gerekli bilgiyi verir. Cosmo, kumar borcu nedeniyle istemediği bir eyleme, cinayet işlemeye zorlanır. Ona bir tabanca verilir ve yapacakları anlatılır. Karakterin isteksizliği ve üzerinde yaratılan baskı son derece sade bir sahneyle ama etkili bir biçimde seyirciye hissettirilir. Dar mekanların yarattığı klostrofobi ve bunaltı hissinden Cassavetes, özellikle Love Streams filminde, evin dar koridorları yardımıyla faydalanmıştır. Bu filmde ise Cosmo, kendisini istemediği eyleme zorlayan kalabalıkla aynı arabada uzun bir süre…
Cassavetes' ahead of it's time style never ceases to amaze me. It feels as though cinema is still yet to catch up with the man. His narrative structure and direction style have many immitators but have never been matched when it comes to American, anti hollywood film making. In this, he takes his style, themes and writing, applies it all to a crime situation, and it's electrifying. Every shot is dazzling, unconventional and experimental in approach to shooting characters. Cassavetes gets under the skin of his characters and actors like no other director. Like most Cassavetes films, I'm going to need to see this again to fully grasp it, purely from a story telling perspective. His films are so narratively…
Many of Cassavetes' characters have their heads in a noose of their own making, but none are more thoroughly damned than Ben Gazzara's Cosmo Vitelli. After racking up vast gambling debts to the mob, Vitelli is pressured into performing a hit on a leader of the Chinese mafia. I was unsure of how suited Cassavetes was to handle the sensationalist, noir-y subject matter, but I needn't have worried. The subject matter may be sensationalistic, but Cassavetes does not play it for sensation. He keeps his sights squarely upon his characters. Vitelli is depicted as a man focused upon his dream of crafting his strip club into a quality establishment. In the midst of the assassination attempt, he even calls the…
A mesmerising combination of lighting, picture and central performance create an atmospheric gangster film like no other. It doesn't always grip you in the way you might expect, but it just becomes more and more fascinating to watch as it unfolds.
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 196/776 (25%)