the inside world really holds you, really contains you, can cause you pain that you don’t show outside and that is why no one ever talks about it. He has two selves and she only has one.
—John Cassavetes quoted in Carney, 2001
His [Cassavetes’] opinion was that society made women quite crazy—and not just the men. It was their mothers making them crazy half of the time. He said men got all the blame but their mothers told them which way to act and to pretend things that they didn’t feel and say things they didn’t mean, to inflate a man’s ego . . . —Gena Rowlands quoted in Campbell, 2001
It would be interesting to know if John Cassavetes read Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. His film, A Woman under the Influence (1975), would be right up her alley. For those not familiar with the famous American writer, she wrote quirky short stories about simple country folk. Perhaps the most famous is “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (O’Connor, 1983), a short story that is the subject of numerous essays and articles that are longer than the story itself (e.g., Curtin, 2015; Fassler, 2013). A hallmark of Flannery O’Connor’s stories is redemption. Readers initially perceive certain characters to be crazy or bad until an unexpected moment of divine intervention Continue reading A Woman under the Influence: A Flannery O’Connor Redemption Story?→
What can I possibly write about A Woman Under the Influence (Cassavetes, 1974) that has not already been written? Starring Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk, this film impressed hard-to-please critics, and earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress as well as two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Director. Among the first 50 films to be selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry (US Library of Congress, 2016) for its cultural significance, A Woman Under the Influence is forever a masterpiece Continue reading A Woman under the Influence Started a National Epidemic→
Relief. That’s what I felt when The Piano Teacher was mercifully over. The movie not only leaves nothing to my imagination, but renders it obsolete as I endured from one twisted scene to the next, wondering what could possibly come next. When the main character, Erika Kohut, remarked, “Be quiet. You will wake the whole building,” I noted that as one of the few drops of rational thought in the whole movie. Continue reading Some Don’t Like It Hot: The Piano Teacher→
Typically Haneke, the protagonist’s extraordinarily odd behavior . . . is never explained or justified in any psychological way. Wildly explicit and violent rape and bondage scenes are as ever rendered disturbing and not titillating.
—Mattias Frey, Senses of Cinema
La Pianiste at times seems like an introduction to the writings of Freud . . .
—John Champagne, Bright Lights Film Journal
At this point, I have stopped trying to figure out how and why certain people are winners of the prestigious Nobel Prize. For some most deserving recipients, such as President Jimmy Carter in 2002, it was just a matter of time. However, the announcement of others takes me by real surprise. The most recent example is Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate in literature, who has been highly influential in the music scene for decades and for which he will receive an enormous check.
There have been plenty of musicians in my lifetime who have also “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” (Leight, 2016). I hope I am not diminishing the tremendous honor bestowed upon Bob Dylan when I ask what singled him out of a crop of accomplished musicians such as James Taylor and Billy Joel? I was also among the shocked when, in 2009 at the birth of his Presidency, President Barack Obama was announced as winner. President Obama, just settling in at the White House, had not yet made a mark at all.
There is one thing every single actor, director, and movie person have in common; they were all bitten by this certain “bug.” This results in an insatiable itch to do whatever it takes to make it in the movie business.
As a researcher for Movies on My Mind, I spend many hours reading about movie makers and never fail to learn when and how they get bitten by this peculiar “bug.”
Let me just say this first—Jack Nicholson’s performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is absolutely mesmerizing. His astonishing portrayal of R.P. McMurphy is a reason One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest stays with you long afterwards.
Nurse Ratched, the character that actress Louise Fletcher made bigger than the movie itself, is another reason this movie stays long in your mind. I knew Nurse Ratched Continue reading Evil Nurse Ratched→
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