The Cinema Club is all about cinephilia. We love movies and we love to talk about them with our friends and with the people we respect; that’s why we meet once a month to see a great old movie and discuss it after the show with a guest. We live to watch movies, especially on the big screen, and that’s the main reason why we love the Paramount Summer Series, Austin’s leading venue for classic movies all summer long.
When our friend Jesse Trussell, the former Film Competition Programmer at Austin Film Festival, was recently hired to take over programming at the Paramount, we were thrilled to see the awesome films he came up with. The Paramount schedule was just announced, and it’s great.
We wanted to help raise awareness for Trussell’s debut as Austin’s newest film programmer, so we invited him to join us for the Cinema Club. When we threw some titles around, it immediately became apparent that we had to show a film by John Cassavetes, the father of the American Independent Cinema.
Cassavetes, whose other titles include SHADOWS, FACES, HUSBANDS, and A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE, is a profoundly influential filmmaker whose works are unjustly underseen. THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE is his story of a flawed nightclub owner and the trouble that comes with gambling debts.
Ben Gazzara creates a complex and super-cool character in club-owner Cosmo Vitelli, simultaneously a lowlife and a hero surrounded by sleaze – he says in the film, “I’ve got style, but no class,” and he’s damn right.
His club is a dream come true for those seeking outdated striptease from talentless performers; the place seems to run on the fumes of irony, and everybody knows it but Vitelli and his girls. Brilliant character actors like Seymour Cassel and Timothy Carey line the streets in this dark portrait of the criminal element in Los Angeles.
As should be expected, Cassavetes directs with a style that is immersive and raw, his camera free and relentless and his actors unhinged. If you like any American independent film since 1970, you are going to love this movie.
Jesse Trussell is returning the favor and inviting Cinema Club hosts Lars Nilsen and Daniel Metz for a special edition of the Cinema Club at the Paramount on June 8th. You’ll surely hear more about it later, but we’re showing the middle-period Brando movies BURN! and LAST TANGO IN PARIS.
Be sure to check out THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE this Sunday, 7pm at the Ritz. It is a movie that will change your life.