The essential documentaries on John Cassavetes, including Cinéastes de notre temps - John Cassavetes (1969), I’m Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes - the Man and His Work (1984), Anything for John (1993), Cinefile: John Cassavetes: Out Of The Shadows (1993), John Cassavetes: A Constant Forge (2000), John Cassavetes: To Risk Everything to Express It All (1996), and rare footage, John Cassavetes directing, from the French TV series “Cinema Cinemas,” a 1983 feature on Cassavetes directing the movie Love Streams (1984), which Cassavetes both wrote and directed.
While at first the Cinéastes team was more interested in capturing on film the titans of Hollywood, many of them already quite elderly, attention was also given to the “New American Cinema,” as seen in these two terrific films. The Cassavetes film was shot in two parts, over three years. The first part, shot in 1965, catches Cassavetes as he is editing Faces; he recounts his unhappy experiences trying to work in Hollywood, and his palpable excitement for what he’s done in Faces is apparent throughout. The second part, filmed in Paris in 1968, reveals a more focused Cassavetes, as the success of Faces has shown him the direction in which he wants to continue. (source)
John Cassavetes, America’s greatest independent filmmaker, died in 1989. The wonderfully titled I’M ALMOST NOT CRAZY… captured Cassavetes on the set of his last personal film, LOVE STREAMS (1984). “We’re making a picture about inner life,” we hear Cassavetes saying. “And nobody really believes that it can be put on a screen. Including me. I don’t believe it either—but screw it.” We then see the director in action on the last day of the LOVE STREAMS shoot, after which he tells us that his sole theme is the search for love. Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes’ wife and the leading lady of most of his films, testifies that her husband has an affinity for characters who are borderline crazy. “I hate entertainment,” he admits, maintaining that most movies are mere “fluff.” Later he observes that audiences tend to remember his films even when they hate them.
Earlier in the shooting of LOVE STREAMS, Rowlands is startled to learn that she will be improvising a scene that day—the only improvised scene in the film. Surprisingly little of Cassavetes’ body of work was in fact extemporized, though he had no qualms about rewriting dialogue on the set, and is shown doing so in I’M ALMOST NOT CRAZY…. Then two clips from LOVE STREAMS, including the improvised scene, are screened followed by excerpts from four earlier Cassavetes movies: SHADOWS (1959), FACES (1968), A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1974), and OPENING NIGHT (1978).
Cassavetes refers to his wife as “absolutely private” and she in turn calls him “very mysterious.” During a backgammon game, Cassavetes is seen arguing with his opponent about Socrates, “a jerk” in the opinion of the Greek-American director. Several members of the LOVE STREAMS team are asked to comment on the movie’s creator. Co-producer Menahem Golan calls him America’s Ingmar Bergman. Co-scripter Ted Allan offers a pricelessly revealing anecdote about a preview screening of OPENING NIGHT: Cassavetes was so disturbed by the standing ovation the audience gave his film that he recut the last half hour to make it less ingratiating. Carole R. Smith says that as LOVE STREAMS’s production coordinator she is in no position to comment on the artistic talents of her boss, whom she describes, with wry affability, as “totally unpredictable” and “a pain in the ass.”
I’M ALMOST NOT CRAZY… ends with a freeze frame of Cassavetes and Rowlands at work, their arms around each other’s shoulders.
“Backed by Cannon Films, which also made LOVE STREAMS,” Variety reported, this documentary “by no means stands as a promotional piece, emerging rather as an evocative glimpse of one of filmdom’s genuine mavericks.” Those who revere Cassavetes and his films will embrace I’M ALMOST NOT CRAZY… as a rare and invaluable chronicle of their hero doing and talking about what he loved best: filmmaking. Those who don’t should gain new respect for the man, his methods, his passion, and his absolute commitment to his own unique vision of the human comedy. (source)
An intimate portrait of actor-writer-director John Cassavetes and a loving tribute to his genius for studying and depicting the human character. In-depth, candid interviews with his wife and muse Gena Rowlands as well as his most trusted friends and co-workers like Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, etc. Clips from Cassavetes’ greatest films, and many rare photos illustrate this touching documentary.
Great stories from Peter Falk, back in ‘93.
Charles Kiselyak’s A Constant Forge—The Life and Art of John Cassavetes is a detailed journey through the career of one of film’s greatest pioneers and iconoclasts. Assembled from candid interviews with Cassavetes’ collaborators and friends, rare photographs, archival footage, and the director’s own words, the film paints a revealing portrait of a man whose fierce love, courage, and dedication changed the face of cinema forever. (source)
Rare footage, John Cassavetes directing. From the French TV series “Cinema Cinemas,” a 1983 feature on Cassavetes directing the movie Love Streams (1984), which Cassavetes both wrote and directed.
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