Criterion Year Week 34: Ghostbusters, Civil War, and Opening Night

• May 22nd, 2016

 The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Opening Night

Spine Number: 255

Director: John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama

After a one week hiatus we are back and ready to close out our look at the John Cassavetes Box Set. However, we do have a bit of ground to cover before doing so. Do you want to know our feelings on Ghostbusters, Captain America: Civil War, bathrooms, and fast food? Well, then this is the episode for you. Because we do all of that.

But, back to the matter at hand. The fifth and final of the Cassavetes movies contained in the Criterion Boxed set. To continue our party metaphor:Shadows: Life at the party, Faces: Life at the after party, A Woman Under the Influence: What happens after the party, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie: What happens when you are the only one who doesn't realize that the part is over... and now Opening Night.

Opening Night is what happens when you outgrow the party, but don't want to admit it. It's what happens when you grow up, lose the confidence born of your youthful ignorance, and feel as if you have lost something, rather than accepting what you have gained. This is a fascinating movie that maybe goes on a little longer than it should, but is still solid. It is the most "movie" feeling movie of the collection, and has everything you knew it would. Gena Rowlands is absolutely captivating, Ben Gazzara is perfect, and John Cassavetes himself makes his first appearance in front of the camera with an incredibly solid performance.

OpeningNight1.jpg

This is a good movie, but it is a challenging movie. It really typifies what Cassavetes thinks movies should be, a catalyst for thought, not just an entertaining diversion. He holds the camera on moments until they become real, he revels in the discomfort and banality of daily life, and he shows us the struggles that we all go through. You may not like him, but it is impossible not to respect him.

So, join us in our farewell to the father of independent cinema.

OpeningNight2.jpg

Next Week:

Spine number 289: Hoop Dreams

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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Criterion Year Week 33: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

• May 8th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Spine Number: 254

Director: John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama

As we continue looking at John Cassavetes a few things become clear. First, this man didn't know the meaning of the word compromise. Every single frame that made it into one of his films is EXACTLY what he wanted, no exceptions. Second, he was obsessed with the reality of life. Not cinematic reality, but reality. It didn't matter if that reality meant that nothing was going on at all, it was part of the story. Third, the man had an eye. Some of the most perfect and beautiful shots I've ever seen are strewn throughout his films. Fourth, he was all about moments.

That being said... this movie is difficult. Neither of us would describe it as an enjoyable movie. But, while it may not have been enjoyable, we can appreciate it.

Continuing with the part metaphor... not really sure how this fits. It could be what happens when everybody knows the party is over except you. It could be the trying to find a new party. It could be... I don't really know.

chinesebookie1.jpeg

What I do know is that this is quintessentially Cassavetes. Uncomfortable, couched in silences, highlighted by moments, and completely ensconced in reality in a way that only Cassavetes could do it.

chinesebookie2.jpg

Next Week:

We reach the end of the road wiht...

Spine number 255: Opening Night

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...


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Criterion Year Week 32: A Woman Under The Influence

• May 1st, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

A Woman Under the Influence

Spine Number: 253

Director: John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama

We have been using the metaphor of a party to describe the films of Cassavetes, and so... let's continue that. "Shadows," is life at and around the party, what happens in social settings and how those dynamics function as a part of daily life. "Faces" is the after party. What happens when the party is over, but there is still that need to be out there and how do we deal with strange situations and people that only seem to exist in the wee small hours of the morning. In "A Woman Under The Influence,"  the party is over and all you are left with is the crushing banality of daily life. There are good times, but there are also a lot of bad times. Very bad times. Times where the air is just sucked out of the room and you struggle to make sense of any of it.

So... what is life after the party ends?



First and foremost... Gina Rowlands is so good in this movie that it almost hurts. It is literally impossible to put into words. The world she lives in is messy. She is unhinged and lacks any real moorings to steady her. Peter Falk is harrowing to say the least. This movie is hard to watch. It's a parade of characters who don't know what to do, don't really want to be doing what they're doing, and have no idea where what their goal should be.

This is a standout film, incredibly shot and acted, solidly paced and written, and you almost feel like you need a shower when it ends.



But don't let that dissuade you from taking the next step on our journey through the world of John Cassavetes.

Next Week:

We inch closer to the end with...

Spine number 254: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...



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Criterion Year Week 31: Faces

• April 24th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Faces

Spine Number: 252

Director: John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama


There is an evolution to the work of John Cassavetes that is fascination to watch. Shadows was a revolutionary film that is very much tied to a certain age. Not just by the year it was made, but more the age of those making it. It's a film that expresses a certain stage in a young person's life. In as basic a way as it could be put, it's about life at the party. "Faces," is about life at the after party.

A little older, past the big fun years, as it were, an into the time after where things are a little more set and calm. It could just as easily be called, "We're Going to this Guy's Place." The party is over, but you aren't ready to go home because... why would you want to. So, you end up in places you might not normally go with people you might not normally go anywhere with. You're trying to hold on to something, but you know you can't. It's difficult to describe.


Free form, anarchic, and open ended. Cassavetes making what he wants regardless of the rules. Also, Gena Rowlands doing what she does best, being better than everyone in the room.



So, check out the second step our journey through the world of John Cassavetes.


Next Week:

The journey continues with...

Spine number 253: A Woman Under The Influence

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...




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Criterion Year Week 30; Shadows

• April 17th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Shadows

Spine Number: 251

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama

"If American independent cinema could be said to have a birthday, Nov. 11 is as good a date to celebrate as any." - Elbert Ventura

Why November 11th? Because that is the day back in 1959 that John Cassavetes's "Shadows" premiered.

Now, up to this point movies were made by studios. Not necessarily the big studios, but due to the expense of the endeavor of making a film in one way or another, to some degree or another, a studio was involved in the process. Cameras, film, lights, talent... all that stuff cost a lot. So, even if it was some small time outfit, a studio was involved.

Enter John Cassavetes. He looked at what was happening and decided that "that's how we've always done it," was simply not a sufficient justification for producing films the way they were made. He set out to make a movie that broke, literally, every rule of  film making at the time. He didn't ask permission. He didn't follow the established channels. He ignored everything and made the movie he wanted to make. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, he didn't wonder who was going to let him make his movie, and refused to let anyone stop him.

So, employing students from the Cassavetes-Lane Drama Workshop, he set out to produce a completely self financed film. No studio, no backing company, nothing but the guts it took to make something completely on his own.

The result...

shadows.jpeg

A free form story that ignored any and all ideas of dramatic structure, didn't use a script, and only used unknown actors from the workshop. The only professional hired by Cassavetes was a cinematographer.

What resulted, regardless of your feelings on the film, was a complete and utter up ending of the status quo. Unscripted, unstructured, and as free form as any jazz album ever produced, "Shadows" put the world of film making on notice. Not only did Cassavetes deny any power to the "gatekeepers," he destroyed the gate. He told the world that all you needed to make a movie was the will to do it and a group of people crazy enough to follow it. Much like the popular statement that only a few thousand people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but that everyone who did formed a band, not many people may have seen "Shadows" when it first came out, but everyone who did tried to make their own film.

Shadows2.jpg

So, join us for week one of our five week Cassavetes exploration with a film that changed the game and erased the rules. Even if you haven't seen it, I assure you there is something for you to like in this show.

Next Week:

The journey continues with...

Spine number 252: Faces

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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