June 25, 2011

R.I.P. Peter Falk

“Cassavetes, even after his posthumous reputation has flourished as the very model of the off-Hollywood maverick independent film-maker, remains a polarizing figure to this day, and likely always will. His messy, plotless, chaotic, grueling actor-centered cinema aimed to present a narrow band of human emotions and a narrow strata of society in deliberately unflattering close-up. They are as exhausting to watch as they must have been to make (a typical Cassavetes film took a year to write, a year to shoot, and a year to edit). Critics accused the films' faux improvised scripts, picking at small agonizing personal interactions like scabs for seemingly endless duration, as being no more than acting class exercises run self-indulgently amok: this is actually true, but this is also the source of JC's greatest insight. Cassavetes understood that social conditioning turns all of us into actors, forced to don a mask or pose to enact the various roles we are compelled to perform throughout our days, and that we are generally very bad actors to boot, full of forced laughter, cruel acts impulsively cracking the facade of niceness, self-pity undermining our cool. The moments in our lives where the mask starts to slip because our social performance has ceased to properly achieve what it was supposed to and we start blowing our lines because we don't actually understand why we are doing whatever it is we're doing are the moments his films are about. That is why they are so truthful and so painful to watch, not because of the sputtering inarticulateness of his characters, and meandering plots, the bad lighting and un-composed shots. Husbands is his toughest, most exhausting film, but if you can take it, it's worth the ride.”(1)


1. Plotkin, Thomas. “Rat Pack In Extremis;” Amazon.com review; June 7, 2009.

1 comment:

Casey Smith said...

Great & amazing post! Thanks, Mark.