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Cassavetes on Cassavetes Paperback – 19 Mar 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (19 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571201571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571201570
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ray Carney is Professor of Film and American Studies and Director of the undergraduate and Graduate Film Studies programs at Boston University. He is the author and editor of more than ten books including Cassavetes on Cassavetes. He is General Editor of the Cambridge Film Classics series, and is a frequent speaker at film festivals around the world. He is the leading authority on the life and work of John Cassavetes.

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First Sentence
My father, Nicholas John Cassavetes, came to America with his sister and brother when he was fourteen. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Useful text for students of film as it contains much original material by Cassavetes himself, and the author's text puts it in the context of the times & the film industry in broader terms.
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Amazon.com: 0 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Possibly the best book about any director. 5 July 2002
By Iconophoric - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My half-hearted browser's interest in Cassavetes needed a kick in the seat of the pants, I now realize, and reading this book shows me how much I failed to appreciate him while we were lucky enough to have him around. The format is eye-opening. Cassavetes speaks, and then the author. The constantly shifting P.O.V., and the frisson between the truth Cassavetes himself presented, and the unvarnished truth as discovered by the author, makes this book constantly stimulating and endlessly arguable.
Cassavetes life and films are worth a serious look-see -- and this book is an EXCELLENT place to begin that-- if only because he is that rare individual who absolutely refused to accept mediocrity in himself and others, both as an artist and a committed liver of life. He went for the burn every time out, and could often be an ornery s.o.b. when he detected that people were simply going through the motions in their life or art. (The book is rife with anecdotes that literally make you wince and leave you wondering "Could I have long tolerated this behavior in a friend or family member?") He seems never to have thought "I'd better not burn my bridges here", or practiced any of the other forms of incremental, over-thought cowardice that most of us do.
Cassavetes was driven like no one else; he never made a lazy, easy commercial film. He let his life and films commingle, letting the cameras roll for hours, shooting thousands of feet more film than he could use, afterward sculpting it into a shape that could be released. (He said film stock was the one part of his film making on which he would never scrimp.) His films were, probably more than any other director's, explorations of life.
Cassavetes lived life so completely that it might be truthful to say he did something the average person would call foolhardy nearly every day of his life, in some way or other. But in spite of this, or because of it, it's impossible to come away from this book without an awakened admiration for him.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Truly inspirational! 17 Aug. 2004
By Matt Reed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ray Carney's "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" is a wonderful introduction to Cassavetes' work. I found it to be a great read - amazingly free of academic jargon or fancy terminology. It was hard to put down! And with incredible photos of the wild-man at work. A must for every fan of indie film as well as aspiring directors and artists - and also for students of life! If you want to know even more, I'd also recommend Ray Carney's massive web site devoted to Cassavetes and indie film. Any search engine will take you there. It has wonderful behind-the-scenes information about the making of Cassavetes' work. If you want a volume to provide ongoing daily inspiration and encouragement regarding the artistic process, buy this book. It is a book you will go back to again and again and again...
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A Consciousness-Shifting Treasure 24 Aug. 2001
By A customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well, Ray Carney has done it again: years of research have culminated in a wonderful examination of Cassavetes, by Cassavetes: his life and work. Carney's takes on the important independent filmmaker's mischief, guts, growth and ups and downs are inspirational. You get a deep look here at a way of living, working and risking that is not about the ambition, power or money so prevalent in the American film industry. Carney carefully lets Cassavetes tell the story in his own words, chronologically following the director's experiences from his childhood to his early career struggles to his groundbreaking independent films. There is much new information.

Throughout, family and love are front and center: these were so deeply important to Cassavetes and were primary themes in his films. I also take away from this book a new inspiration to try to find a way to live and work that places things like security, conformity and acceptance in a more healthy perspective.

Anyone contemplating the arts, film theory or technique, criticism, or just personal or professional growth should read this book. It is a delightful, consciousness-shifting walk through another way to be creative and just to be.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating Look at America's Most Advanced Filmmaker 15 Nov. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A superb autobiography pieced together from spoken interviews. Carney neither fawns over Cassavetes (as he sometimes has done in the past), nor does he paint an unqualified portrait of a dark, tortured soul (as most artist biographies tend to do).
Instead, Carney gives us insight into a new type of artistic genius, one whose life may not have been rife with passionate love affairs and bouts of madness, but was nevertheless rich and intense. A man whose artistic goal was not to tap the furthest depths of his soul, but instead to revel in the sheer awkwardness, goofiness, and comedy of lived experience.
An eye-opening experience.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
My Way 6 Nov. 2002
By Arch Llewellyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ray Carney's done a great service to film fans by bringing Cassavetes' scattered talks and interviews together into a coherent statement on art. Carney shows how Cassavetes' whole process of filmmaking was tied to his outlook on life. Combative, spontaneous and deliberately amateur, he aimed for situations where writer, actor and viewer are all left without direction, forced to respond to the story as individuals rather than reach for pre-approved 'social codes'. He savagely edited his films to defy audience expectations, usually rejecting versions that the studios, his collaborators and even his wife liked best. Some of Cassavetes' statements made me wonder if he did this to edit some part of himself--the Greek immigrant son made good, with the blonde wife and kids and Hollywood home. In some ways he was an insider desperate to stay on the outside. Conflict was fun for him, he thought America needed more of it, and the messy collaborative 'families' he built around each film were his alternative to the button-down corporate society he fought against all his life.
As Carney presents him, Cassavetes wasn't out for the money, the glory, the ego or ultimately maybe even the art. He wanted fun, he wanted friends and he wanted people to really live as individuals. Are there folks like this around anymore? We need them more than ever.
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