Mabel, a wife and mother, is loved by her husband Nick but her madness proves to be a problem in the marriage. The film transpires to a positive role of madness in the family, challenging conventional representations of madness in cinema.
Ghost is an idealogical musician who would rather play his blues in the park to the birds than compromise himself. However, when he meets and falls in love with beautiful singer, Jess ... See full summary »
Psychologist Dr. Matthew Clark is the head of the Crawthorne State Training Institute, one of the first boarding schools for developmentally challenged children. Dr. Clark is sympathetic ... See full summary »
Nick is desperate, holed up in a cheap hotel, suffering from an ulcer and convinced that a local mobster wants him killed. He calls Mikey, his friend since childhood, but when Mikey arrives... See full summary »
Navy Seal Demetri Papadapoulis (Rokki James) is a proud strip club owner who gets in over his head on a $235,000 poker debt with the local River Gambling Cruise. A small group of Wiseguys ... See full summary »
KILLING OF A CHINESE COOKIE examines the heated debate over the true origin of the fortune cookie, the mixing of easter and western cultures that produced it, and the cookie's rise from a simple pastry to a pop culture phenomenon.
Marc Edward Heuck,
A common friend's sudden death brings three men, married with children, to reconsider their lives and ultimately leave together. But mindless enthusiasm for regained freedom will be ... See full summary »
Marvin, a heavy-drinking widower who has seen better days and now ekes out a living at odd jobs, meets Tige, an 11-year-old black boy about to kill himself because his mother has just died.... See full summary »
Billy Dee Williams,
Cosmo Vitelli owns the Crazy Horse West, a strip joint in California. He's laconic, a Korean War vet, and a gambler. When we meet him, he's making his last payment on a gambling debt. Then, he promptly loses $23,000 playing poker at an illegal local casino. The guys he owes this time aren't so friendly, pressuring him for immediate payment. Then they suggest that he kill a Chinese bookie to wipe off the debt. Vitelli and the film move back and forth between the double-crossing, murderous insincerity of the gamblers and the friendships, sweetness, and even love among Vitelli, the dancers, a dancer's mother, and the club's singer, Mr. Sophistication. Written by
Now, teddy. Teddy. Everything takes work. We'll straighten it out. You know. You gotta work hard to be comfortable. Yeah, a lot of people kid themselves, you know. They-they know when they were born, they know where they're goin'... they know whether they're gonna go to heaven,whether they're gonna go to hell. They think they know that. They kid themselves. Right? But the only people... who are, you know, happy... are the people who are comfortable. That's right. Now, you take, uh, uh, carol, ...
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A film like John Cassavetes' "The Killing of A Chinese Bookie" is one of those films that Roger Ebert often says "either grabs you or leaves you". This one grabbed me. It is perhaps the least liked film of the precious few Cassavetes wrote and directed, but it's an honest film that doesn't pull any punches. It's kind of a predecessor to "Goodfellas" and "Casino".
While Cassavetes' film lacks the polish of the two Scorsese films, I think that benefits "Killing". This is not a glossy, "high-concept" film that Hollywood prefers (although Scorsese is certainly not "high-concept"); it is a rough, confusing muddle and that is probably one of the reasons the film remains highly unseen by a great many people. However, I like rough, confusing films and one of the great pleasures is trying to figure everything out. The beauty of a John Cassavetes film is that there are no easy answers and he likes you to make your own reading on the film.
As always with a Cassavetes film, he gives juicy parts to his regulars. Ben Gazzara is excellent as Cosmo Vitelli, the nightclub owner who needs to perform the title deed to save his club. Seymour Cassel gives a strong performance as a friend of Cosmo. Cassel and Gazarra are two of those actors whose names you won't recognize, but when you see their faces, you'll recognize them. They love to take risks with their performances and you can see the payoffs for yourselves.
After a half-assed release by Buena Vista in 1989, "Killing of A Chinese Bookie" is finally available on tape and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The transfer is clean and looks great and the letterbox presentation shows that Cassavetes knew how to use his camera, even if the aspect ratio is small.
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