Love Streams ★★★★★

After OPENING NIGHT's blissful glides across theater space (covering arrival, backstage and performance with successive cuts) and LOVE STREAMS', well, everything, I'm glad to now own Criterion's Five Films set so that I can revisit the others, which I watched so long ago and loved for the "improv" and "naturalism" (look, I was 19-21 and an idiot) and marvel at Cassavetes' genuine style. Look at the way he orients the camera diagonal when Rowlands' daughter quietly but firmly says she wants to live with her dad in the midst of a divorce deposition, a reorientation that maintains an observant viewpoint but takes on the power of one of Sirk's diagonal compositions. Or, contrary to Ebert's belief that Rowlands showing up with a menagerie upon which to place her stunted affections is not played as a joke, how Cassavetes can let the humor of such moments occur naturally; it only seems like it's not meant for laughs because Cassavetes does not intend, and does not make, Rowlands the object of derision for her desperate attempt to keep her love for SOMETHING alive. The late dip into outright opera clenches it: Cassavetes was not just one of the best American filmmakers but one of the best directors, and you couldn't ask for a better benediction for his career than this, even if it is a penultimate work.