“I like to act in films, I like to shoot ‘em, I like to direct ‘em, I like to be around ‘em. I like the feel of it and it’s something I respect. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a crappy film or a good film. Anyone who can make a film, I already love. But I feel sorry if they don’t put any thought in it because then they missed the boat.”
So far, summer 2013 seems like a dud of a movie-going season. Luckily, BAM is coming to the rescue with a retrospective of the films of iconoclastic filmmaker and actor John Cassavetes. It’s often said that Cassavetes’ films are not for everyone, which is true, but it should be taken as a compliment. The series, which runs through July 31st, mixes Cassavetes’ work as a writer and director with some of his more memorable roles acting for other directors, like Robert Aldrich’s THE DIRTY DOZEN (which won him an Oscar nomination), Don Siegel’s THE KILLERS, Elaine May’s MIKEY AND NICKEY (co-starring Falk) and Roman Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY.
Cassavetes’ self-financed 1968 film FACES (screening on July 17) was nominated for three Academy Awards, and had a major impact on the industry itself and also on filmmakers like his friend and protégé Martin Scorsese, and contemporaries like Woody Allen, Robert Altman and Peter Bogdanovich. In addition to paving the way for the independent film movement in the United States, Cassavetes’ movies present human emotion and behavior in stark, jarring, occasionally hilarious and sometimes harrowing ways. Simply put – there’s nothing else quite like them. Cassavetes created a stock company of fantastic and idiosyncratic performers, including Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel and perhaps most famously and importantly, his wife and muse, the great Gena Rowlands. Rowlands’ performance in Cassavetes’ A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE was widely lauded, Oscar-nominated and has become justly legendary, but her work her husband’s other films, like the criminally under-seen OPENING NIGHT, which kicks off the series on Saturday, is equally stunning. It’s enough to cure you of superhero movies.