The Killing of A Chinese Bookie

The Killing of A Chinese Bookie

DVD - 2008
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A small-time Los Angeles night club owner falls for a lavish invitation to gamble at a private club.
Publisher: [United States] : The Criterion Collection, 2008.
Edition: Special ed.
ISBN: 9780780029224
Branch Call Number: DVD Killing 7-DAY
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (243 min.) :,sd., col. ;,4 3/4 in.


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May 14, 2019

Why do John Cassavetes's films as an auteur (which he most definitely is) always disappoint? He has a fine way with writing and inspiring good dialogue for his actors, whom he casts with only a tad more glamor in mind than is strictly credible, and he blocks, films, and edits like no one else, except (and is this an example of his influence?) the much more interesting Alexander Sokurov (though the Russian uses nonactors as well as pros). You know when you're watching a Cassavetes film, and you wish you could care. But you don't--unless the flick features a bravura performance by a very smart actor, which this one does in Ben Gazzara. He makes Sunset strip club owner Cosmo Vitelli, who always seems smarter than everybody he has to deal with but keeps it so well under wraps that we never see it, really, but have it confirmed by his survival at the end. Of course, he's also an iron man in the old Hollywood mold, so tough he can operate convincingly despite having a fresh bullet in him that at first heavily promises to sideline him. What exactly is Cassavetes after? Does he mean to give greater realism to the gangster genre, or does he want to so mingle the persuasive and the improbable as to undermine it? Every viewer who doesn't just think the movie's dull will come up with answers, but consider also and to begin with whether his club's act, Brechtian to the nth, could possibly hold an audience of boozed-up guys after titillation. And although the long version in this package is the one to watch, ask also whether the lengthy scenes full of murk and fourth-wall breaching glare aren't more tedious than stylish, and further, whether tedium standing in for suspense isn't the sine qua non complement of the stupid, patience-trying characters in making the whole shebang a satire. Oh, for the record, film noir this is not. --Ray Olson

Oct 10, 2017

John Cassavetes engages film noir in his own inimitable style with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Ben Gazzara brilliantly portrays gentlemen s club owner Cosmo Vitelli, a man dedicated to pretenses of composure and self-possession. When he runs afoul of a group of gangsters, Cosmo is forced to commit a horrible crime in a last-ditch effort to save his beloved club and his way of life. Suspenseful, mesmerizing, and idiosyncratic, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is a thought-provoking examination of desperation and masculine identity.

Oct 02, 2017

One of my favorite films ever. Ben Gazzara gives an incredible performance. One of Cassavetes' best films.

Aug 18, 2017

The definitive Cassavetes film. The closest he ever came to film noir. There is no finer example of just how much Cassavetes is interested in character above plot. The close-ups are evidence of this. Gazzara is perfection throughout. Despite his character's flaws, my heart goes out to him. There is so much humanity in this portrayal. In fact, each and every supporting character is illustrated as nothing less than human. This also happens to be Cassavetes most personal film. Cosmo and his ragged group of performers are a metaphor for Cassavetes and his team of actors and filmmakers. The Mafia are like the pressure of Hollywood to sell out. Yet, all he can give us is a uncompromising "love" for humanity. The entire film is constantly on edge and there's never a cliched or contrived moment. 70's filmmaking has rarely been better.

Oct 11, 2016

Saw the glowing reviews and decided to check this out. Watched disc one first but found it moving too slowly and switched to disc two, the shorter and tighter 1978 cut. At the end, agree that it was an interesting portrait of a Sunset cabaret club owner who found outside influences were always meddling with his live as a business owner and pursuit of happiness. Unusual and well worth the time.

Jul 23, 2016

Writer/director John Cassavettes’ long slow lament on dreams deferred takes the form of a gangster thriller with conscientious strip club owner Cosmo Vittelli (Ben Gazzara) receiving an offer he can’t refuse. Ever the student of human behaviour, especially those forces which seem to guide our hands, Cassavette’s focus is not so much on gangster violence (his mafiosi are reduced to menacing caricatures) but rather on the everyman’s struggle to wring some comfort from a world that is too often cold and remote. No matter what route he takes Vitelli just seems to dig his hole deeper when all he really wants is a small bit of contentment with the woman he loves. Filmed in garish shades of red and midnight blue with spotlights often forming halos around Cosmo as he moves in and out of darkness, there is a sad almost melancholic tone to the film. Harsh, clinically detached dealings with the mobsters (at one point they discuss murder over coffee and muffins) contrasts sadly with the tawdry fantasy shows at his strip club where beautiful sirens flash their breasts while a clownish emcee sings torch songs about love and longing. Highly kinetic and choppy with few scenes lasting more than a handful of seconds and characters kept at arm’s length, Cassavette’s pacing expertly reflects his antagonist’s mental state thus allowing us to see, if not actually feel, his unraveling.

Marinetti Apr 09, 2015

I'm not sure I can say I " Liked " this film ever- however there's something that pulls me back to watch it again and again.


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Oct 11, 2016

I'd like a - a follow spot on Cosmo... he's not only a great nightclub owner ... But he also - he also practices ... the best thing there is in this world - to be comfortable.
Marty, you're a lowlife. No offense... but you have no style. I don't ever want to see you again.
Ah, that jerk Karl Marx said opium was the... religion of the people. I got news for him. It's money. Money.
That's - Jesus Christ. My father was right. There is nothing wrong with you, Cosmo. Money. Money. My father was a nice guy. You should have met my father. He could listen to me like you could. That's why I like you. There's not many people that can listen like my father.
-You cry when your father died?
Ah. He promised me one thing. He said, "Hey - >“Don't let 'em bury me.” Didn't like the electric company,
the gas company, the water company.
-Why don't you do yourself a favor and get out of here?
-You're an amateur.

Oct 11, 2016

Prep talk, Part 1 of 2:
Now, teddy. Teddy. Everything takes work. We'll straighten it out. You know. You gotta work hard to be comfortable. Yeah, a lot of people kid themselves, you know. They-they know when they were born, they know where they're goin'... they know whether they're gonna go to heaven,whether they're gonna go to hell. They think they know that. They kid themselves. Right? But the only people... who are, you know, happy... are the people who are comfortable. That's right. Now, you take, uh, uh, carol, right? A dingbat, right? A ding-a-ling.A dingo. That's what people think she is,'cause that's the truth they want to believe. But, uh, you put her in another situation, right? Put her in a situation that's tough. Stress. Where she's up against something,you'll see she's no fool.

Oct 11, 2016

Prep talk, Part 2 of 2:
Right. 'cause what's your truth... is my falsehood What's my falsehood is your truth and vice versa. Well, look. Look at me, right? I'm only happy when I'm angry... when I'm sad, when i can play the fool... when i can be what people want me to be rather than be myself. You understand? Mm-hmm. Yeah. And that takes work. Gotta work overtime for that. Yeah. Doesn't matter who you are or what personality you choose. ... “Come on, baby.” Choose a personality. - Let's go down there and - We'll do a great show... We'll smile, we'll cry... big, glistening tears that pour onto the stage... and we'll make their lives a little happier, huh? So they won't have to face themselves. They can pretend to be somebody else. Be happy. Be joyous.
-So, you don't want to get involved.
That's right. I don't want to get involved.
-But the money you want.


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