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Cassavetes on Cassavetes

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  519 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Since his death in 1989, John Cassavettes has become increasingly renowned as a cinematic hero--a renegade loner who fought the Hollywood system, steering his own creative course in a career spanning thirty years. Having already established himself as an actor, he struck out as a filmmaker in 1959 with Shadows, and proceeded to build a formidable body of work, including su
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 19th 2001 by Faber Faber
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Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
This book is part of a unique series on legendary directors, though the concept is dubious at best.

The idea here is to have a writer sift through all the commentary made by a director (on his life, his work, his influences, his vision) and then arrange this material in loose filmographic order in a valiant attempt to create a cinematic memoir where none in fact exists. To be fair, the writer has some expertise on the man in question and, in this case at least, goes to great pains to structure th
Sycophantism in extremis.

Ray Carney's idea of what art is is so dogmatic and limiting it beggars description.

But before I bash, I have to say his writings have made me think and re-think the nature of art, why it is done and when it is "genuine" as opposed to, say, crass or mere hobby craftmanship or manufactured goods.

Carney's a real pitbull, he takes no prisoners, and his slams at fellow critics are delicious. He's a master at pointing out their inconsistencies, ferreting out claims that seem
Domenico Fina
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ho visto Volti (Faces,1968) a notte fonda, m'impressionò molto, molti anni fa. In seguito lo rividi e lo registrai, sulla videocassetta scrissi 9 e 1/2. Lo rivedrei? forse sì, peraltro è youtubizzato e retrospettivizzato, da tempo, suppongo. Di Cassavetes non mi colpì l'idea del cinema 16 mm, macchina da presa Arriflex, improvvisato, naturalmente su dialoghi scritti, indipendente, squattrinato, in cui si beve e si parla e sparla parecchio. Mi colpì lo slancio percepibile, serio, lo sdegno, l'aut ...more
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hillhouse
This is actually "Carney on Cassavetes." It's interesting, but not helpful to anyone with a serious interest in John Cassavetes' films.
Jared Busch
Mar 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves film and Cassavetes
Probably the most fascinating and exhaustively in-depth book on one filmmaker I've ever read. Carney has pretty much devoted his life to studying Cassavetes and telling the true story of his life, much to the chagrin of his wife, Gena Rowlands, who has stopped every great thing Carney has tried to do to preserve his legacy, including releasing early cuts of Shadows and Faces. This book moves from Carney's biographical narration to long passages of Cassavetes' own words. I think this monster is a ...more
Ana Maria
I think this was delicious.
Jeremy Moran
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My heart is so full and I am so honored, grateful, thankful, overjoyed that this book exists. For Ray Carney and all those who made this book possible, everyone who dedicated countless hours and hours of work in memory of one of the greatest living people of all time.

John didn’t want people to know him personally. As vulnerable and open as he was, even at the end of this book, there is so much more to him that I do not know and I will never know. No one will. But what he offered to the world is
elle buss
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
this was an EXPERIENCE to read because i also watched all of john cassavetes' movies as i read along with it. eleven films and a 500+ page book later, and i now have my full cassavetes education!!! lmao i am so tired i need a nap but anyway this was a great companion for what i did and i feel like i know everything i will ever need to know about john cassavetes now in case i ever happen to speak to a pretentious film student
Leo Robertson
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Breezed through this one!

About the man, his thoughts, how they translate into his films, how those films got made.

I get that they are unique pictures and didn't often get appreciated in their time, but the guy didn't do himself any favours what with all the people he noised up!

Still, a true artist and a fascinating account :)
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read to this one now and really enjoying it. I love writing style and everything Describe in this book.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cinematic Cteve
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great series of cinema books, featuring deep, insightful interviews with the finest film directors in the world. Cassavetes, godfather of indie cinema, cuts loose with tales of his hardscrabble early years, wearing out shoeleather on Broadway when no agent would return his calls. His eventual foray into a naturalistic style of filmmaking created such masterpieces as Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence and the quietly devastating Husbands, which every real man should view at lea ...more
Jul 23, 2011 added it
Great book about the maddeningly quirky, often brilliant filmmaker-actor John Cassavetes. Ray Carney follows JC's life and career, largely in his own words, from his early days in TV's so-called Golden Age through the pioneering, now-classic SHADOWS, his conflict-filled time with Roman Polanski on ROSEMARY'S BABY, through uncompromising, uneven films such as FACES and HUSBANDS to the end with the disappointing (in my opinion, not Carney's) LOVE STREAMS. At one point the book suggests that Cassav ...more
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I gave Cassavetes on Cassavetes four stars because the editor did an impeccable job putting the book together. But what a horrible thing to discover: One of the greatest American filmmakers is unlikable and unintelligent (even about his own movies). I wish I hadn't gotten to know him; truly, this book has tainted Cassavetes' films for me.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
fantastic! this book captures, in cassavetes' own words, how an ever passionate and one-of-a-kind director, actor, father, and husband can single-handedly bring to screen the reality of the human experience. his story gave me a new found appreciation for independent cinema and showcased the ability of one truly independent artist.
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I can't really put into words how much I enjoyed reading this book. I read it as I watched the films, one by one. I am definitely keeping this book for future reading and consulting. I am not the biggest fan of J.C. but I definitely appreciate his work on film way more than I did when I watched his movies without having a clue about his creative process.
Marlo Bernier
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It would be an injustice for me to "review" this book with any kind of convention, but I will suffice to say that this book is a must read for filmmakers, actors or "goers". This book gives more than a cursory glimpse into the man and the myth; it's an entire immersion.
Jack Herbert Christal Gattanella
One of the best and most inspiring how-to-make-a-movie books I'll ever read. I may not love all of his films, but he is one-of-a-kind and his spirit helped me make my first film.
Apr 22, 2008 added it
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves film
Shelves: my-cannon
Cassavetes talking Cassavetes. Amazing.
bobherzog zog
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: film people. Cassavetes fans.
Only for fans and film buffs.
Dec 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: headlong rushers
the things that woody guthrie couldn't teach me.
Louis Zieja
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Artisit
Shelves: favorites
Inspiring, Life Changing
Rob Young
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great biography/autobiography that explains Cassavetes' process. Lovingly compiled from interviews by Cassavetes and the people closest to him. Fantastic book all around!
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John Nicholas Cassavetes was an American actor, screenwriter, and director. He is considered a pioneer of American independent film.

News & Interviews

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
50 likes · 11 comments
“Film is, to me, just unimportant. But people are very important.” 21 likes
“These days, everybody is supposed to be so intelligent: ‘Isn’t it terrible about Nixon getting elected?’ ‘Did you hear about the earthquake in Peru?’ And you’re supposed to have all the answers. But when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, like, ‘What is bugging you, mister? Why can’t you make it with your wife? Why do you lie awake all night staring at the ceiling? Why, why, why do you refuse to recognize you have problems and deal with them?’
The answer is that people have forgotten how to relate or respond. In this day of mass communications and instant communications, there is no communication between people. Instead it’s long-winded stories or hostile bits, or laughter. But nobody’s really laughing. It’s more an hysterical, joyless kind of sound.
Translation: ‘I am here and I don’t know why.”
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