Mineshaft Gap

It's a screening log, no more no less. Maybe I'll have something interesting to say one of these days...

Gena Rowlands.

In the last two days I watched Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence and Opening Night. Gena Rowlands in now officially my favorite actress. What she does in these two films is amazing work. The most remarkable, however, is that she takes two characters so similar and makes them living, breathing individuals.

Opening Night now features my answer for the best acted scene that I have seen. The final interplay between Rowlands and Cassavetes on stage, the free form improvisation between two great actors who are intimately familiar lent itself to such an amazing give and take. Both films should be studied by everyone, EVERYONE that wants to be an actor.

A Woman Under the Influence is the better film by far, though. With more interaction and time to develop, Peter Falk and Rowlands go even deeper than the husband and wife did in the later film. As someone with experience being in a relationship with a person with mental disorder, the interaction here cuts straight to the core, reminding me most directly of my experience with Faces. In Woman, Rowlands and Falk or so commanding, so virtuosic that it almost unseats Faces on my top ten list. One day it might, actually, but for now Faces is safe.

With that focus on the acting, which is so easy in discussing these films, not enough attention is paid to the bravura filmmaking by Cassavetes. His focus on the gesture, the individual moment that changes a life and the intimacy of the shooting, he brings you inside characters more than any director before or sense. Performance itself is so central to Cassavetes work, both an actor and a character are examined in the act of performing. It is through this that he attempts make us all see the nature of a person that can only be revealed under the mask of performance.

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