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A quintet of Cassavetes' finest moments hits Blu-ray with thunderous emotional power...
Criterion / 746 Minutes / 1959-1977 / Unrated / Street Date: October 22, 2013
One of Criterion’s most extensive standard-def compilations gets the Blu-ray push with John Cassavetes: Five Films, and even cinephiles particularly resistant to the filmmaker will have trouble not responding to the aesthetic and cultural import of the thing. First and foremost, these are often painfully distressing films to watch: as much as the authenticity of ethos within Cassavetes’ multi-faceted characters rings true, the hell he marches them through in order to conjugate this truth is frequently devastating to behold.
But, boy is it powerful. Shadows (1959), Faces (1968), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), and Opening Night (1977) are some of the director’s most acclaimed works, and they showcase a filmic style that is almost rampantly disinterested in heeding any advice or protocol from film movements or paradigms of any kind. These aren’t art films, per se, but they progress in fashions that are atypically provocative – they don’t connect plot points as much as they unfold like blossoms.
I know, it’s flowery, but it’s difficult not to wax eloquent with a collection of movies this deeply artistic. Cassavetes was one-of-a-kind, and while this Five Films set is by no means comprehensive (where’s Husbands or Love Streams?), it represents the auteur’s shaky, fly-on-the-wall sensibilities with microscopic clarity. In short, the answer is yes: you will have to upgrade.