Alright, enough of this election night blues shit. Let's all praise and honor John Cassavetes; he and I go way back. The first film I ever reviewed, for a high school newspaper, was his A Woman Under the Influence. He would later become one of my favorite screen villains -- and endure the most gloriously gory death -- in Brian de Palma's The Fury. He delivered what is, I think, one of the greatest screen performaces of all time -- and I do mean in all time -- in Elaine May's great film Mikey and Nicky. And he's always been some kind of role model. I used to have a quote of his penned up on a bulletin board: "You have to fight sophistication." And I still, somewhere, have the thank-you note from Gena Rowlands that I received after I wrote her after her husband's death.
the films of his I still love most are Woman, Love Streams and Gloria -- in the others I tend to love the ambition more than anything; the dogged effort to try, as Armond White notes, to keep it real. He didn't always succeed; I've never lasted through Faces, for example, because the struggle to be real is just too painful to watch: it's obnoxiously over-acted. Still, when he's on, he's one of the greats, and I think he's been influential well past being everyone's idea of an independent. I always think of him when I see a great, strange, out of nowhere film that works, that really penetrates the skin. I'm not alone in believing some of him rubbed off on Bergman.