August 12, 2012
May 19, 2011
One of the greatest things about fanediting, or at least “watching” a fanedit, is that occasionally you uncover a movie which you’ve never even heard of before. Such was the case when I started to keep track of the progress for Gatos’ first fanedit, entitled Killing a Chinese Bookie.
To my shame I don’t really know Nick Cassavetes’ work. Sure I had heard of him as an actor (and remember with great fondness the image of him being blown to pieces by Amy Irving in Brian De Palma’s The Fury), but as director? Nope, sorry, that bus must have passed me by. However, the first trailer which I saw from Gatos immediately got me interested and I eventually made the effort to buy the Criterion DVD to watch the original 1978 version.
I had been warned that Cassavetes is not the most conventional of film makers, but if anything this just heightened my interest and sure enough having sat through 108 minutes following a few days in the life of strip-club owner Cosmo Vitelli, a self possessing but well meaning man who gets involved in owing a rather large sum of money to some not so friendly gangster types, I smiled the kind of smile which you get after watching those rarest of cinematic gems – a truly unique movie. I loved Cassavetes style – from his long takes and restrained editing style to his quite superb use of the handheld camera – it just drew me into Cosmo’s world effortlessly. I then worried about what Gatos could do as a fanedit, such was the personal feeling which Cassavetes had given the movie. Well, a mixture of worry and excitement at any rate :)
Reading Gatos’ reasons for this fanedit, to make this a faster moving and more traditional gangster movie, it did initially take me some convincing that this would work. The fact I watched it on the same day as Cassavetes original version also meant I would be scrutinizing the changes perhaps more than I would normally. However, as some of the changes began to take shape in the first half of Gatos’ 78 minute edit, I relaxed and realised this was going to work just fine.
First things first, the technical stuff….
PICTURE: The quality was excellent, basically the same as the Criterion DVD. It has that lovely 1970′s film stock look (how I wish we could go backwards sometimes) and I never really noticed any glaring differences. There’s certainly no interlacing or anything like that. 9/10
AUDIO: Nice work again. No harsh cuts, drop outs or varying volume levels. 10/10
EDITING: This is the crux of the piece of course. For a firstling Gatos handles his choices superbly well. They all work in the context of the story he wants the movie to convey and the only slight gripe would be, as Rouge-theX pointed out, the somewhat ill-fitting and abrupt fade out/in during one scene. As there are no other fade outs in the movie (I think!), it just doesn’t seem to work and the fact that it is quite abrupt doesn’t help. However, that aside, the editing choices and execution of them were excellent. Well done Gatos. 9/10
ENTERTAINMENT: Big kudos here, as against the odds Gatos’ edit manages to maintain the personality of Cassavetes’ original version, despite the fact that 30 minutes is cut from the movie. It’s quite extraordinary that despite all the cutting of the strip club routines (most of them at any rate), scenes which helped shape Cosmo’s world I might add, the sense of character and realism within the piece is still retained at a pretty high level. True, it is certainly more of a traditional style gangster movie, but Gatos manages to leave enough to allow Ben Gazzara’s charismatic, yet naturalistic performance, to shine through in almost the same way it did in the original.
All in all this is a hugely impressive fanedit. It certainly won’t replace Cassavetes’ original for me, but as a more accessible version it works wonderfully well and certainly deserves to be seen. On the proof of this, I look forward to “OZ”, Gatos next project, with eager anticipation. Overall, I would score this 9/10.
Right, I’m off to watch Cassavetes’ 135 minute version from 1976… or maybe I might leave it a few days ;) Well done Gatos.