There was such a thing as independent film before Sundance and sex, lies, and videotape. And tough-guy actor?turned?director John Cassavetes was its master and martyr. With pals like Ben Gazzara and wife Gena Rowlands as his personal repertory company, Cassavetes’ no-budget dramas were anything but vanity projects. They were — and remain — gritty antidotes to Hollywood artifice and gloss. In A Woman Under the Influence, Rowlands gives a harrowing performance as a housewife coming unhinged. In The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Gazzara struts like a polyester peacock, playing a doomed nightclub owner in debt to the wrong people. The DVDs are loaded with extras, like interviews with the stars, who rightly regard their friend’s movies as miracles in miniature. A
Genre: Mystery and Thriller, Drama; Starring: Seymour Cassel, Ben Gazzara; Author: John Cassavetes; Runtime (in minutes): 135; MPAA Rating: R
Posted October 29 2008 — 12:00 AM EDT
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