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

 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.


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.


Next Week:

Spine number 289: Hoop Dreams

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

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