Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Minnie and Moskowitz.


Minnie and Moskowitz.

John Cassavetes was one of the pioneers of the US independent cinema, using the proceeds from a successful Hollywood acting career to finance his own films as both writer and director. He also pioneered the use of improvisation and a realistic style of “truthful cinema” known as cinema vertite a style of documentary filmmaking combining naturalistic techniques with stylized cinematic devices of editing and camerawork, staged setups and the use of the camera to provoke subjects. I first came across this filmmaker when he starred as Johnny Staccato in the TV series of the same name in the late 50’s early 60’s. He played a really cool jazz pianist and private detective in New Yorks Greenwich Village. But as an actor he is probably best known for appearing in films such as The Killers (1964), The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Rosemary’s Baby (1968).

At an approximately half waypoint in his film career he wrote, directed and acted in Minnie and Moskowitz (1971). The film starred his wife Gena Rowlands as Minnie Moore and one of his regular actors Seymour Cassel as the pony tailed Seymour Moskowitz. Following a break-up with her husband and then her married boyfriend (Cassavetes) Minnie, a local museum curator, is bitterly disillusioned by love and meaningful relationships. Following a chance encounter, the parking lot attendant Moskowitz falls in love with the very attractive Minnie, but she is unable at first to reciprocate his feelings.

Mr and Mrs Cassavetes.
If you have never sampled this mans work then I would suggest that this naturally entertaining piece of cinematic work is as good a place to start as any. Normally with Cassavetes his work favoured character, setting, mood and theme over plot or storyline. But Minnie and Moskowitz is a well-written and plotted tale involving two unhappy people, one of which avoids intimacy while the other demands it. A fascinating look at Middle America through the eyes of one of its greatest protagonists.

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