In 1983, during the production of John Cassavetes’s Love Streams, journalist Michael Ventura was hired by Cannon Films executive Menahem Golan to make a promotional documentary about the company’s first Cassavetes picture. The result was the sixty-minute I’m Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes — the Man and His Work, which affords the viewer a rare, intimate glimpse into the great filmmaker’s process. In this excerpt, courtesy of the Criterion Collection, Cassavetes directs a climactic scene set during a rainstorm, contends with the film’s menagerie of animal performers, and then talks about the importance on a movie set of never knowing what the next day will bring. Love Streams is available on Blu-ray and DVD through Criterion. Absolutely our highest recommendation.

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.

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.

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It must be innately human, the desire to understand how our home came to be the way that it is. And seen from lunar orbit against the blackness of space, the Earth is a fragile world, but seen by science, it’s a world that’s been crafted and shaped by life over almost four billion years. So we’re on our way to understanding how we came to be here, but as the Apollo astronauts discovered, the journey of discovery has already delivered much more than just the facts, because it’s given us a powerful perspective on the intricacy and beauty of our home.

I am so tired of this whole ‘asexual people love dragons and cake !!!1!!1!1!’ business I gotta say

like it’s fine to have community in-jokes, and I’d love to have community in-jokes; they’re a way to relate to each other and a pretty excellent method of solidarity in a way, a kind of constant reassurance that you’re not alone

but like. the dragons and the cake have been taken way too far. people are being alienated //from their own communities// because they think it’s a requisite, you have to love dragons and eat cake every day to be part of the asexual community otherwise you’re not welcome

it’s like. it goes hand in hand with people from outside the ace community treating us like we’re all some kind of innocent children that must be ~protected from sex~. people see the emphasis we put on cake and dragons, and yeah, maybe a little but of that is sarcastic or flippant or us chafing under the restrictions of such assumptions, but it’s not effective when no one outside the community knows that these are in jokes or where they came from

all they are (all they have become) is ammunition; they see we talk about dragons and cake and all of a sudden that’s all we are— no substance, no depth, no deeper meaning, just a childlike innocence and an obsession with cake and dragons

like. not all aces like dragons. not all aces eat, like, or are even able to have cake.

so please please please, stop putting so much emphasis on something that ultimately doesn’t even inherently have something to do with the realities of the asexual experience

(and yes I know there are more than one kind or type of asexuality and that each experience is, inherently, in it’s own way, a little different—that’s not what I’m talking about; I’m talking about the kinda of experiences that are universal to aces everywhere like acephobia)

it’s just. I’m not wording this right, not at all. I’m just thinking if we talk a little more about solutions and ways we can raise awareness and a little less about devils food and dragons, we could make a little bit more of a difference (and maybe actually get a little visibility, so that when we talk people hear our voices instead of some little children’s cries, because that seems to be all we are to them)

so i’m watching this documentary ‘a fierce green fire' for my environment and society class and there's this big montage of videos at the end but…

hold on… is that…? is that markruffalo ???

is that the incredible hulk giving a speech while “it’s not easy being green” plays in the background? 

{This hippie just watched a documentary on plastic pollution, and saw dead Sea Lions so dear followers please use reusable bags, and actual water bottles. And if you’re at a beach and see some trash about, please don’t feel gross about picking it up and throwing it away.}

I love watching documentaries about gardens and their evolution over the years. I love seeing how people treat them for different purposes and just seeing the elegance of the changes.

Also the more I see the history of gardens the more I realize my fantasy Hoepian world could use a little bit of that; special gardens and gardens that have changed and gardens of different purposes depending on the time/place. I mean come on; if I’m going to make beautiful fantastical plantlife with varying uses, a garden or two that uses/displays many of them would go without saying!

Already I’ve thought of three different major botanical/ornamental gardens that could be on Hoep (one in each country); the Heartslavia Ardor Gardens, the Crwona Castle Gardens, and the Echelon Botanical Gardens [which was destroyed millenniums ago].

Before when Erin and Jay only acted like a couple outside of work, it was hard to see them as the same two detectives also in a relationship. But now we see them acting like a couple at work more, it’s easier to believe it’s the same Lindsay and Halstead who love each other as well. And it’s still fucking hard to believe when you see them, you see two partners but you gotta remember they love each other too, when they’re not making out. Am I the only one who thinks this? It’s just really hard to fathom that those two people we used to just see as partners (aside from shipping them before they were together) and now we have to look at them as partners and lovers idk. Does this make sense?

do you ever just remember all at once how much you actually love music? like you’re 12 years old and are discovering all of these bands that you’re gonna love for the rest of your life and working out all of the careers you could have that involve music and learning to play three different instruments and you feel like no matter what happens, you’ll always have time to sit down at noon, eat pizza rolls, and watch a great music documentary but then school gets increasingly harder, everyone’s pressuring you into all of these different uninteresting careers, college applications are the dark, black cloud hanging over you, you graduate, and you actually have to start growing up. but then one day, you hear a song, see a commercial, watch a movie and it triggers that love you have and you start dreaming again of being 12 or 13 and thinking that you’re gonna be a DJ on the radio or own a music shop and you think of all those times when you were discovering nirvana or duran duran or mcfly or buying eleven CDs at one store after you got money for Christmas or laying on your bed at 2am listening to “dreams” by the cranberries and thinking about how life is gonna last forever… and nothing matters in those few moments except for music.

Last week’s special guest, Michael R. Miller, shared his thoughts on doing live radio on his film blog:

I had so much fun talking about movie music on my good friend Lauren Fay’s UCLA radio show “Lost and Sound” that I want to write about it…

I’ve always loved radio and I’m excited that young music aficionados like Lauren Fay embrace it, too.  Watching Martin Scorsese’s delightful documentary, BRINGIN’ IT ALL BACK HOME, we learn that Bob Dylan fell in love with music on stations thousands of miles from his Minnesota home while listening to his crystal set every night.  Whole generations of musicians and filmmakers discovered songs in similar ways.  And here in 2015, on “Lost and Sound,” Lauren shares her passions: Afro-Cuban records, “devil music,” local indie bands and, yes, movie soundtracks, with listeners for whom such sounds are all brand new.

Perhaps I’m also fond of radio because, like film, it’s becoming rarefied. Digitally recorded, digitally streamed music selected by Silicon Valley software is radically different from vinyl picked by impassioned disc jockeys, but it’s here to stay.  Likewise, digitally recorded motion pictures digitally projected or streamed on telephones don’t have the magic of light shone through celluloid onto giant silver screens.

But I also appreciate that live radio is quite different from cinema. Making a movie, we shoot take after take after take, for weeks on end, until we have the best combination of performance and camera work for every beat of every scene.  We then spend months in the editing room, selecting, refining and rearranging these moments, and many more weeks creating and mixing the sound and music, tweaking visual effects and adjusting the color.  So it takes about a year to make a typical two-hour movie.  A one-hour radio show requires an hour of studio time…

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