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Husbands (Extended Cut)
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Three real-life buddies (John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazzara) team up to play three pals whose lives suffer a shock wave when a fourth friend drops dead. After the funeral, the three friends, feeling death's hot breath on their own necks, take off on a weekend-long debauch, with way too much drinking and loose women. But, in the process, they have lengthy heart-to-hearts about the nature of friendship, manhood, and marriage, among other things. As strong an example of Cassavetes's improvisational art as any of his films, this film may test your patience with his indulgent treatment of actors, allowing them to explore their characters on film. Sometimes they come up empty, but more often, they find precious moments and revelations. And these three guys play off each other like long-time partners in a high-wire game of chicken in which they all emerge as winners. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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He then spent a year making a completely different film in the editing room, taking out all the scenes of a conventional buddy comedy and putting in all the messy inconclusive momements in between the laughs and the plot points. What we get is three great actors -- Mephistophelian bad boy Cassavetes, wounded idealist Falk, and in a film-stealing performance, glowering kill-joy Ben Gazzara, get to the truth behind the arrested adolescence of male bonding.
"I've never seen a helicopter explode. I've never seen anyone go and blow somebody's head off. So why should I make a film about them? But I have seen people destroy themselves in the smallest ways." John Cassavetes.
Cassavetes, even after his posthumous reputation has flourished as the very model of the off-Hollywood maverick independent film-maker, remains a polarizing figure to this day, and likely always will. His messy, plotless, chaotic, grueling actor-centered cinema aimed to present a narrow band of human emotions and a narrow strata of society in deliberately unflattering close-up. They are as exhausting to watch as they must have been to make (a typical Cassavetes film took a year to write, a year to shoot, and a year to edit). Critics accused the films' faux improvised scripts, picking at small agonizing personal interactions like scabs for seemingly endless duration, as being no more than acting class exercises run self-indulgently amok: this is actually true, but this is also the source of JC's greatest insight. Cassavetes understood that social conditioning turns all of us into actors, forced to don a mask or pose to enact the various roles we are compelled to perform throughout our days, and that we are generally very bad actors to boot, full of forced laughter, cruel acts impulsively cracking the facade of niceness, self-pity undermining our cool. The moments in our lives where the mask starts to slip because our social performance has ceased to properly achieve what it was supposed to and we start blowing our lines because we don't actually understand why we are doing whatever it is we're doing are the moments his films are about. That is why they are so truthful and so painful to watch, not because of the sputtering inarticulateness of his characters, and meandering plots, the bad lighting and un-composed shots. Husbands is his toughest, most exhausting film, but if you can take it, it's worth the ride.
What always saves a Cassavetes film from the precipice is that by the time the credits roll, we know his people as we know our own loved ones -- flawed, complex, mysterious. His compassion is like a tidal wave, but without a hint of sentiment. The film is also funny as hell, without a single line that resembles a joke.
Cassavetes was the son of self-made Greek immigrants, and I have always found that significant: all those great Greek works that are thrown around so easily in our lexicon now apply to him: tyrant, democrat, anarchist, demogogue, autodidact, tragedian, comedian, daemon. He was all of these things, and ranks as one of the most important, if difficult of American film-makers.
a year re-editing this movie because he thought it was too "entertaining" and
too "funny" in its first version. Ray Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes has
hundreds of similar anecdotes by the filmmaker. It's a perfect introduction to
Husbands. It's anything but a simple comedy. The characters are as unpredictable
as real people and the situations as hard to figure out as stuff in real life.
Husbands gets you all mixed up. Are these guys idiots or inspired? Are they
jerks or pursuing a dream? Cassavetes doesn't want it to be too clear or too
easy to understand. He doesn't want us to laugh off the serious questions. He
talks about that in Carney's book, but it's obvious from the film itself. This
film should be required viewing for all men, so maybe they can begin to
understand themselves, and it should be required viewing for all women so that
they can begin to understand the men in their lives. It's!
not an easy thing to understand, which is why Cassavetes doesn't make the movie
easy for us to understand, but the more times you see it, the more you will see.
Read the Carney book too, for more of Cassavetes' amazing insights into men and
women and what he was trying to do in his films.
Since this movie really put the hook in me, I went to see it 5 times in theatres during the 1970's, and I saw at least 3 different cuts of the film (!!), so at the very least, this release is going to be the original theatrical cut, plus who knows what else? If this is truly the case, then "Bravo!" Sony.
It's been said that John Cassavetes' films are not so much watched as "lived through." For me, having first lived through "Husbands" in my late teens and early 20's, the film was a revelation and a warning about middle-aged manhood. Now that I'm actually the age of Harry, Gus, and Archie in the film, the questions that it makes me ask are even more urgent: "What am I doing with my life? How can I change?" And "where do I go from here?" When's the last time you saw a movie that made you ask yourself that?