films seen
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A Woman Under the Influence

1974 / 155m - USA
A Woman Under the Influence poster

My first ever Cassavetes. A director who I haven't been actively avoiding, still I had a feeling his films might not be quite what I was looking for. A Woman Under the Influence confirmed my expectations, though it could've been a lot worse, considering the type of film Cassavetes tried to make.

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While I'm not a big fan of it, the almost documentary-like approach worked well and fitted the tone of the film. It's incredibly ugly and unattractive and just more proof that I don't handle that grim, gray and dire 70s look very well, but at least it did get me a little closer to the characters, which is what this film is all about.

What I absolutely couldn't stomach was the constant conflict. Every bit of dialogue is a shouting match, even the simplest interaction is fraught with tension and irritation. Sadly Falk and Rowlands weren't capable enough to pull it off, so after about half an hour the film really started to get on my nerves. Not a success.


1958 / 82m - USA
Drama, Romance
Shadows poster

Cassavetes is best known for his later work, but he already made a splash with his very first film. Shadows feels more modern than its production year suggests, probably because of its improvisational nature. It makes it slightly more impressive, though I never quite got into the drama.

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Benny is a dark boy who lives in Manhattan. He is a talented musician, but still runs into prejudice from time to time. His sister Lelia has a lighter skin tone and finds it easier to mix with white people. She falls in love with a white boy, but mixed relationships are still quite troublesome.

Cassavetes' film offers a nice peek into the beat scene of that time. Sadly, some performances are pretty weak and the music didn't really appeal to me either. The film is rather short, and it does feel less constricted and less fake than many of its contemporaries, but it wasn't a roaring success for me.