Monday, March 1, 2010
THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (John Cassavetes, 1976: 135 minute cut, USA)
Vitelli is a small time gambler who is in big time trouble, living his life on borrowed time. Director John Cassevetes’ grimly fascinating crime drama focuses upon Cosmo and his tumultuous affairs, a strip club owner who perceives himself as something more, a whole greater than the fractured components of a broken man.
He becomes a mirror for Cassevetes himself, a character that recreates the world on a stage and views it as Art, but is only perceived by many as the obscure ramblings of a madman; after all, the audience only wants their gluttonous thrill. Ben Gazzara’s performance is wonderfully complex as the honest but troubled protagonist, cutting away the hard edges of convention and imbuing Cosmo with a soft and gentle persona.
Cassevetes’ cinema verite style journeys inside the smoky nightclub and dressing room, and he sacrifices formal composition to attain voyeuristic intimacy. Cassevetes’ use of diegetic sound builds suspense and he cracks the spring-wound tension with a sharp rapport. Cosmo’s life is luck and chance, and his debt of blood will soon be paid in full.
Final Grade: (B+)
Words Chosen by Alex DeLarge