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2012/02/08

Ben Gazzara in Killing of a Chinese Bookie - Opening 15 min

-May not be suitable for children or adults for that matter... 

RIP Ben Gazzara. The Killing Of Chinese Bookie (1976). From the opening shot of Ben Gazzara getting out of a cab on Sunset Blvd the camera (operated by a young Fred Elmes) never leaves the character of Cosmo Vittelli. Literally, the director John Cassevetes does not cut away from Ben Gazzara for the entire film. He either keeps him in a close up or includes Gazzara in a wide shot with the other 70's Sunset Blvd noir characters. It's Gazzaras greatest performance playing the saddest strip joint owner in cinema history about a guy who can't get a break whose naive dumb optimism seals his fate. Gazzara's performance is like watching ones own annoying sad sack uncle who just keeps screwing up. This movie might have been Cassevetes attempt to make a commercial genre crime movie but it turns out like Cosmo to be often alienating and in one night club performance with the emcee very annoying. I think the one minute film school Lesson# 652: Make a dirty, documentary like film with disjointed amateurish filmed image, write and cast bewildering characters and you might raise your film to the poetry of Chinese Bookie (1976).



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