Director: John Cassavetes
Year Released: 1970
What I think is important to note about this critically-mauled Cassavetes work is the fact that he made it in his 40's - I say this because it's very much a film about the Male Midlife Crisis. After a friend dies, three long-time pals (Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara) all have to continue on, with their (successful) careers, their family lives and the memories of what could have been. It's a punishing, uncomfortable work, one critical of male bravado, heavy drinking and basically guys-acting-like-jerks: for many scenes Cassavetes lets his camera roll on past the point where they would normally be cut, just to accentuate the awkwardness and downright ugliness of his characters' behavior: they booze, they're destructive, they're verbally cruel to each other and to the various broken women they drag along with them. An impromptu trip to London is intended to temporary cleanse their souls and lift their spirits - never mind the fact that they abandon their families for that time - but only two return: the Gazzara character, in a panic, stays there in hopes of starting his life over again. Neither the Cassavetes nor Falk characters are sure life is so easily re-made, and the final shots of the movie are of the two of them, beaten and morose, returning to their old lives, presumably armed with excuses and apologies (they also drag home toys for their kids). This is a trenchant depiction of ego and masculine self-destruction - it's a confrontational picture and not one easy to dismiss.