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.
Part of my:
Crossing Off the Unseen
That jerk Karl Marx said opium was the religion of people. I got news for him, it's money.
Probably the closest Cassavetes ever came to making a crime film, and a fine one it is too. Shot in his distinctive cinéma vérité style with the lighting and form of a neo-noir that resembles something fairly similar to what Scorsese was doing around the same period. Its individuality is a given with a keen focus on the main man played wonderfully by Gazzara who, interestingly enough, didn't like the original cut. Indeed, in some areas it feels very slightly drawn out but it does all add to the development of its characters…
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.
You'll never guess what happens to the Chinese bookie.
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…
[sees girl watching The Killing of a Chinese Bookie]
"Ah I love that movie. The way he just [clenches fist] kills that frickin' Chinese bookie."
This is the only film by John Cassavetes that works for me, maybe because his improv home-movie style is a perfect match for the film noir setting. Cassavetes is no storyteller and when his movies have any power at all it is because an actor hits a right note, but you could wait through a month of Sundays for that note to sound. His other movies feel like acting school exercises where the actor spends too much time laughing too loud and too long waiting for inspiration to kick in. Ben Gazzara plays his role as a low-rent Sinatra, the owner of a Los Angeles strip-club who is in debt to the mob. He is still smooth but he's tired…
“Look at me, right? I'm only happy when I'm angry, when I'm sad, when I can play the fool...when I can be what people want me to be rather than be myself.”
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is not a gangster picture. It is often considered to be in the gangster genre because Cassavetes used gangsters as a tool inside this character study. Cassavetes himself spoke about this film as much more of a representation of the American work ethic and how it requires each person to disregard any indication of individuality in his or her personal life. This work ethic forces the individual to apply and conform themselves to what other people want and expect from them. This…
Tossing up between uncomfortably brilliant or just plain uncomfortable, this is at once Cassavetes' most accomplished work and the work that's most unlike him. It seems as though he's reaching for a new style and it's *just* out of his grasp. Ah well. Hopefully, Opening Night is the one that does it for me.
The 1978 Re-Cut
I hope I watched the better version. I heard some pretty conflicting arguments between the two so the shorter cut will have to be checked out in the future considering they're two completely different products.
Either way, can't go wrong with a good old Cassavetes film (emphasis on the old, because his son is a shit director hehehe). After only two films, the other being A Woman Under the Influence, he's already proved how versatile and talented he is as a director as well as a platform for some great performances. It's a tricky pedestal to balance, between proving your skills as a filmmaker while having a focus on the characters at hand; something for the actors to…
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Tokyo Story
- The Rules of the Game
- Grand Illusion
- Seven Samurai
- The Lady Vanishes
- The 400 Blows
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 186/760 (24%)