Written by / 9/07/2014 / No comments / , ,

CANNON PRESENTS 'LOVE STREAMS' BY JOHN CASSAVETES

year: 1984
The last directed film by groundbreaking independent filmmaker John Cassavetes, if you don’t (and you shouldn't) count BIG TROUBLE, a “mainstream” comedy friend/collaborator Peter Falk asked him to finish…

Based on a play by Ted Allan, LOVE STREAMS, backed by the low-budget production company Cannon Films, centers on the type of mega-flawed character Cassavetes is very comfortable with. In fact, writer Robert Harmon, played by Cassavetes and originally intended for Jon Voight, isn’t much different from Ben Gazzara in THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, only without gambling…

Chain-smoking and drinking hard liquor, he hangs around a strip club like homework, or a busman’s holiday. Meeting beautiful young singer Diahnne Abbott (Robert De Niro’s then wife and co-star in THE KING OF COMEDY), we see a giddy, spontaneously reckless side of the noticeably-aged artist.

A major similarity between Gazzara’s BOOKIE hero Cosmo Vitelli is that Aldan, in landing the young black girl, also gets close with her mother, who's more his age-range. Another similarity is A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Enter divorced wife/mother Sarah Lawson, played by John’s collaborating wife Gena Rowlands.

As Robert’s sister, Sarah suffers random panic attacks and hallucinations (one overlong, surreal third act dream hinders the pace, and seems stagey)... Befitting the Cassavetes canon, Sarah shuffles to the off-beat of her own drummer. At one point, out to change her brother's life, she purchases a dog and an assortment of farm animals, including ducks, chickens and miniature horses, for his secluded Los Angeles home. Robert realizes his sister’s troubles are too far gone... he's forced to agree with her zany whims... And their relationship seems more than platonic, somehow.

Streams Score: ****
With creative camera angles following Harmon's spontaneous hopping-around-town, LOVE STREAMS epitomizes Cassavete's style and is a progression from GLORIA, a wonderfully artistic endeavour hindered by a child actor in over his head with a co-leading role... Yet there are youngsters on board, including Harmon’s son, forced to stay with dad for a day and night… as he travels from L.A. to Vegas… and Sarah’s daughter, choosing to live with her father (Seymour Cassel) instead…

The best scene has Harmon lecturing his son about real life, comparing the chaste honesty of children and old people to the mediocrity of greedy adults... Perhaps, just perhaps, Cassavetes was really comparing genuine artists to the kind of Hollywood businessmen he battled throughout his career... But with all the other players aside, it's really John and Gena's venture and, despite particular bouts of long-winded dialogue and sporadic detours from the mainline, LOVE STREAMS is a terrific final bow and currently available on Criterion Collection Blu Ray.
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