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
Ben Gazzara was unhappy with the role initially, unable to find a way to connect to Cosmo Vitelli. That changed when shooting a scene, Cassavetes spoke to Gazzara about the gangsters in the film as a metaphor for the people who are constantly trying to steal or ruin people's dreams. Cassavetes started to cry and Gazzara saw that playing Cosmo was representing John Cassavetes and the movie was a metaphor for the director's struggles for his own dreams. See more »
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, ...
See more »
A movie which a friend from a film class in university hated so much she broke up with her boyfriend because he liked it, "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" became my first Cassavetes film when I watched it this morning. Widely seen as a misfire on release, extremely divisive now, with many regarding it as a self-indulgent experiment of the very worst variety and others as one of the greatest examples of independent American cinema in the 1970's, my take on "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" is somewhere between the two extremes.
It's an admirable film in concept, a sort of gangster movie focused entirely on characters, with very natural dialogue (surprisingly most of it was scripted, I would've guessed it was improvised for the most part) and some interesting visuals, as interesting as Cassavetes could manage with his miniscule budget anyhow. Yet much of the time it doesn't just seem like wanking, it IS wanking. Moreover, for all the hoopla over how formally interesting the movie is it's barely even all that cinematic, seeming more like experimental theater at times. Ben Gazzara is terrific, the saving grace of the film and the only thing which I really cared about while watching it. With a mildly interesting but still amateurish director helming the movie this couldn't be the sort of thing it wants to be. If it is not visually sophisticated, if the visual storytelling is not strong enough, it needs narrative pull from the script. It doesn't have any. Moreover, it's a character piece in which none of the characters are even remotely interesting, unless you're the sort who pats films on the back for daring to portray a character who has a certain occupation as something other than an archetype.
Now of course I will get people telling me I'm an absolute moron and can't handle anything slow or lacking in explosions and cleavage, but many times during "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" I couldn't help but think back to "The Conversation". That's a 'slow' movie not dissimilar to this in some respects. That's also a great movie. This isn't. I think it's pretty easy to explain that as the difference between sophisticated craft and amateurish, occasionally interesting craft. The 1976 cut is a chore to sit through, and I don't think I'll ever bother with the 1978 cut.
16 of 24 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?