Friday, June 22, 2007

Revisit: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

A Faces Distributing Company release 1976

Written and Directed by John Cassavetes

A proud strip club owner (Ben Gazzara) is forced to come to terms with himself as a man when his gambling addiction gets him in hot water with the mob, who offer him only one alternative.

Gazzara and Cassavetes were frequent collaborators, but their individual efforts culminate in this film, which tells the story of a drunk gambler who gets in over his head. Cassavetes uncomfortably close shots and lingering camera, mixed with the improv, emotionally driven acting style results in a rich, full protrayal that leaves a bitterswett mix of sadness, humor, and the complex emotions of real life. Gazzara's strip club owner character is constantly emasculated while trying to maintain his high roller image, setting up an interesting play in sexual politics. Make sure to watch the 138 directors version - its worth the extra thirty minutes.

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