Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
A long look at John Cassavetes's films, life (1929-1989), and exploration of how people love. The documentary is composed of Cassavetes's words spoken by an off-screen narrator, clips from his films, photos and clips of him on and off the set, and family, friends, and colleagues talking about his films and what it was like to work with him. The movie explores his focus on emotion, the way he drew out actors, his collaborative process, his energy and joie de vivre, his serious purposes, and the meaning and lasting impact of his work: how adults behave, interact, and seek love rather than how a plot works out.Written by
I just saw A Constant Forge, a 3 hours and 20 minutes documentary about John Cassavetes. It had wonderful insights and information about John as a person and especially about his films (even though strangely enough it left out Big Trouble). The main problem with the documentary was that it made John look like the second coming. There was hardly nothing bad about him in the film. Even the incident where he lost his temper while filming Opening Night because the camera man had to change the real (which is hardly his fault) was used as an example of how great a director he was! And don't get me started on the endless quotations, which become embarrassing in the end (after the credits), where the director quotes a poem after poem which is supposed to tell us something great about John. If one can look past all the angel smearing in the film then there is a lot to enjoy and take in.
I loved how Cassavetes always talked about "our films" and "the way we make films". It was never "my" films or the way "I" make films. Very humble and accurate, since he did encourage collaboration from all involved. And boy do I wish that he had lived to make a musical version of Crime and Punishment (or was he maybe joking when he said that?). And I loved what Peter Bogdanovich said close to the end of the film: "His films are about all the things that are really important in life. Robert Graves once said that before he wrote a poem... he asked himself, "Is this poem necessary?" All that required for him to write a poem was... a pencil and a piece of paper. To make a film requires an enormous ... equipage and personage... beyond a pencil and a paper. All the more reason we should ask ourselves, you know before we make films... "Is this film necessary?" And there are mostly unnecessary films, particularly today. John's are all critically necessary. He never made one that wasn't."
By the way, did Peter Bogdanovich know every great film director in Hollywood. It looks like he was not only a great friend to most of them but that he also interviewed most of them about their art-form.
One last thought. It is wonderful that America has an auteur like Cassavetes, but still, a part of me wishes that he had moved to Europe. I'm quite sure it would have been easier for him to finance his films there and he would probably have made more films there than in America, plus he would not have had to fight the studio system like he did in the first two films he made after Shadows.
I strongly recommend this documentary.
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