Tuesday, February 07, 2006

beta luv streams

"Let me ask you something: Do you believe love is a continuous stream?"

The Anthology snuck in a quick triumvirate of John Cassavetes's less-vetted late-period flicks over the weekend since the Elaine May movie Mikey & Nicky got nixed. As the beer-guzzling, seven-layer dip devouring and bleu cheese'n wings dipping ceremonies kicked off, I missed both Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night, but since I had seen the latter recently, I settled for the last movie John Cassavetes made, Love Streams.

It's not on DVD stateside (neither is Husbands, my favorite) and I hadn't seen it in a good eight years or so. Trying to recapitulate the plot for my friend as we walked through the drizzling gusts of afternoon rain, all I could remember is that John looks ancient: hair dyed, eyes carrying heavy baggage, rapidly aged, his swollen distended belly hidden under dirty tuxes. That and that there are a bunch of animals in it. Everything else about the movie flows so subtly yet constantly that it's hard to hold such water in your hands.

I'm surprised at the copious amounts of blood that get shed in the movie. Who doesn't have blood from their forehead, their hands, the corner of their mouth, their ears at some point here? Also, I forget how fall-down hilarious it is at points. It's both his bloodiest and funniest movie I can recollect. Cassavetes and Rowlands are kooky siblings, deluded on their notions of love. For her, it's 'the ultimate,' the biggest chip on the table, the greatest bet there is in the universe; for him, love is just about a woman giving up her 'secret' to a man; 'secret' meaning 'lady-yum,' 'man' meaning him. The beginning scenes of him at some weird tranny wine bar with Bob Marley lip-synching and with a mansion full of honeys (peep the one in the swooshing white jumpsuit that just screams Falcon Crest) are brilliant, with John smirking through all the insanity, even as he protests to be sane himself.

Conflicts are like clockwork, all a-grind, continuous, and unresolved even by movie's end. Lovers cannot communicate and neither can generations. Parents and children squabble, the former unable to reign in their crazy tendencies, the latter young but quickly learning to be in such an unstable state, making life miserable for all. The product of divorce, I feel for both the eternally-single man and his abandoned child. As the movie continues to float well past the 2 1/2 hour mark, I can hear the rain still brushing against the Anthology's walls.

In a similar on-screen deluge, decisions are quietly --almost imperceptibly-- made by both Robert and Sarah, and whether there is hope of true change, or just irrational deluded hope, the change is decisive, if slight, and the last image of the movie is of our man, soaked from the downpour, behind windows blurry from the everflowing water. It's his last role, and knowing that death is imminent, he waves goodbye to his sister and to us.

Back outside, waiting for a bus, soaked myself in my raincoat, I watch from a leaky kiosk as the wind blows the droplets into rippling patterns all along the broad blackness of First Avenue.


Anonymous JFR said...

Yes, in fact, I do believe that love is a continuous stream.

8:11 AM  

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