John Cassavetes, America's greatest independent filmmaker, died in 1989. The wonderfully titled I'M ALMOST NOT CRAZY... captured Cassavetes on the set of his last personal film, LOVE STREAMS (1984).
"We're making a picture about inner life," we hear Cassavetes saying. "And nobody really believes that it can be put on a screen. Including me. I don't believe it either--but screw it." We then see the director in action on the last day of the LOVE STREAMS shoot, after which he tells us that his
sole theme is the search for love. Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes' wife and the leading lady of most of his films, testifies that her husband has an affinity for characters who are borderline crazy. "I hate entertainment," he admits, maintaining that most movies are mere "fluff." Later he observes that
audiences tend to remember his films even when they hate them.
Earlier in the shooting of LOVE STREAMS, Rowlands is startled to learn that she will be improvising a scene that day--the only improvised scene in the film. Surprisingly little of Cassavetes' body of work was in fact extemporized, though he had no qualms about rewriting dialogue on the set, and is
shown doing so in I'M ALMOST NOT CRAZY.... Then two clips from LOVE STREAMS, including the improvised scene, are screened followed by excerpts from four earlier Cassavetes movies: SHADOWS (1959), FACES (1968), A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1974), and OPENING NIGHT (1978).
Cassavetes refers to his wife as "absolutely private" and she in turn calls him "very mysterious." During a backgammon game, Cassavetes is seen arguing with his opponent about Socrates, "a jerk" in the opinion of the Greek-American director. Several members of the LOVE STREAMS team are asked to
comment on the movie's creator. Co-producer Menahem Golan calls him America's Ingmar Bergman. Co-scripter Ted Allan offers a pricelessly revealing anecdote about a preview screening of OPENING NIGHT: Cassavetes was so disturbed by the standing ovation the audience gave his film that he recut the
last half hour to make it less ingratiating. Carole R. Smith says that as LOVE STREAMS's production coordinator she is in no position to comment on the artistic talents of her boss, whom she describes, with wry affability, as "totally unpredictable" and "a pain in the ass."
I'M ALMOST NOT CRAZY... ends with a freeze frame of Cassavetes and Rowlands at work, their arms around each other's shoulders.
"Backed by Cannon Films, which also made LOVE STREAMS," Variety reported, this documentary "by no means stands as a promotional piece, emerging rather as an evocative glimpse of one of filmdom's genuine mavericks." Those who revere Cassavetes and his films will embrace I'M ALMOST NOT CRAZY... as a
rare and invaluable chronicle of their hero doing and talking about what he loved best: filmmaking. Those who don't should gain new respect for the man, his methods, his passion, and his absolute commitment to his own unique vision of the human comedy. (Profanity.)
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- Released: 1984
- Rating: NR
- Review: John Cassavetes, America's greatest independent filmmaker, died in 1989. The wonderfully titled I'M ALMOST NOT CRAZY... captured Cassavetes on the set of his last personal film, LOVE STREAMS (1984). "We're making a picture about inner life," we hear Cassa… (more)