John Cassavetes


"In a body of work in which gender roles always matter, Sarah is, in more ways than one, the ultimate Cassavetes woman, and Robert the ultimate Cassavetes man. Sarah, an emotional live wire, is kin to Mabel Longhetti in A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Myrtle Gordon in Opening Night (1977), women who struggle valiantly with their capacity and need for love, with “how to love” and “where to put it.” A boozy charmer in a rumpled tux, with a knack for turning all interactions into transactions, Robert is a more cultured brother to the suave strip-club owner Cosmo Vitelli in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), or an alternate-world variant of the suburbanites in Husbands (1970), more successful and even more hollow.” — Dennis Lim (A Fitful Flow)

Beau travail


Beau travail concludes with the frenzied dance of Galoup on the disco floor that we have seen, intermittently, throughout the film. The dance seems both regimented and wild at the same time. If, in the previous scene, we are led to believe that Galoup is about to commit suicide, this concluding dance suggests another way to imagine the male body. There is, after all, a connection between the last two scenes. The last image we see of Galoup’s body before the dance shows Galoup’s arm in close-up, a vein throbbing. In the final scene, the vitality, the pulsating energy, of that detail explodes. If the film suggests, however briefly, that there are ways to imagine the breakdown of the whore/Madonna stereotype in relationship to women, no such possibility exists in relationship to Galoup. His pulsating body, whether throbbing slightly in contemplation of suicide or performing frenetically on the dance floor, cannot escape the dualities of regimentation and desire, duty and passion. – Judith Mayne

Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Kiyoshi Kurosawa

I think there is something that is organic to film and unique to it as an art form, which is the nature of time and how to portray it in film. And I am interested in that question of, What is time in film? So I would say I’ve grown more interested in that question over time. It’s something I contemplate each time I make a film, but I’m hardly an original thinker in terms of this. Take the very famous example of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, where three different approaches to a similar reality are explored.

My understanding of filmic time is that it’s always moving forward in one clear, linear fashion, and at the end of two hours you come to the end. It’s only in parts of the story that you may periodically dip into the past. I think that if you approach telling a story the way Rashomondoes, what you do is dissolve any factual basis for determining what is true and what is not true. By having all three versions of events moving forward simultaneously, you dissolve the underlying concept of a single truth that’s presumed to be there. And I think that this is probably something very difficult to achieve in any other art form.

But at its essence, film is a collection of chopped-up time. I mean, I guess once in a while you have something that’s actual contiguous time that’s shot almost like a documentary recording of real time, but in general filming occurs over a longer time period: you shoot scenes over different days and then you edit that. Of course, the audience in theory experiences it as a linear story, but for those of us who are creating it, it’s a complete non-linear mishmash of time from the very beginning, and we’ll do brazen things like take a close-up from a scene that didn’t belong in the scene at all and pop it in in the editing.