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Composing for Cassavetes

On the Channel — Mar 16, 2018

One of the true pioneers of American independent cinema, John Cassavetes had a style and method all his own, instilling his tumultuous dramas of everyday modern life with an unflinching emotional honesty and a kinetic sense of spontaneity. Cassavetes, who came up as a theater actor himself and also appeared on-screen throughout his career, gained renown as a director for drawing galvanic and often improvised performances from a regular stable of actors that included Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, Peter Falk, and, most notably, his wife, Gena Rowlands. But his significant collaborators were by no means limited to the cast.

In a new documentary premiering today in 10 Minutes or Less, a section of short videos on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, filmmaker Daniel Raim throws the spotlight on composer and sound recordist Bo Harwood, who forged a close working relationship with Cassavetes over the course of six films. Raim’s intimate portrait—which appears alongside our full edition of five of the director’s key films (Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night)—finds Harwood fondly recalling Cassavetes’s compassion and creative generosity, the intuitive method of communication they developed, and his initial realization that the director, whom he took to be “a New York conservative businessman,” was anything but.

Stay tuned for another video piece with Harwood, focused on the music in A Woman Under the Influence, which we’ll be premiering soon exclusively on the Current.

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