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Ray Carney's Mailbag -- This section of the site contains letters written to Prof. Carney by students and artists, announcements of news, events, and screenings, and miscellaneous observations about life and art by Ray Carney. Letters and notices submitted by readers are in black. Prof. Carney's responses, observations, and recommendations are in blue. Note that Prof. Carney receives many more letters and announcements than he can possibly include on the site. The material on these pages has been selected as being that which will be the most interesting, inspiring, useful, or informative to site readers. Click on the first page (via the links at the top or bottom of the page) to read an explanation of this material, why it is being posted, and how this relatively small selection was made from among the tens of thousands of messages Prof. Carney has received.

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Hi Mr. Carney,

I'm a longtime fan. Is it is too late to order books through you and get them in time for Christmas?

John's example as an artist is such a lifeline. So much emphasis is placed on commercial product and fame that it is hard to see yourself as a real artist unless you achieve that. At graduate school here in New Jersey (an MFA program in playwriting) we learned that making money was the key to being a successful writer. We took classes in sitcom writing and had workshops on how to write soap operas. In critiques with professors the words "beauty" or "honesty" or "truth" never came up. Only form and structure mattered. cliché was king, and reaching for anything else was openly scoffed at.

My classmates, who have graduated, all lust after hollywood and writing the next big monster-flick blockbuster. Some also write maudlin plays that are easy digestable tear-jerkers for the stage. Needless to say, they all think I am a freak. I have absolutely no interest in doing that. But they argue that they have agents. They are paid for their work. Such and such a movie star is interested in their script. They are getting their plays performed on respectable stages, teach courses at local colleges, and serve on local theater committees.

Meantime, I am writing plays and screenplays that get roundly rejected and sit in the drawer. It is hard not to feel like a loser while my classmates are cavorting out in L.A. They can also wag their resume at me while I have nothing to show them but rejection slips.

But Cassavetes example, rejecting the easy buck, they easy solution, inspires me. How many would do as John did, after receiving accolades for the first version of "Shadows," he redid it to suit his inner vision? THere are many still who would say that he was crazy.

But in order to survive, must artists become saints? Where does an artist go to know that he is on the right track when no one around him/her will give him positive feedback?

Also... What are your thoughts on Nick Cassavetes? I see something of John's vision in parts of Nick Cassavetes' work. In "She's Da Lovely." Do you agree?

J. Florek

Ray Carney replies:

Sure. Send in the order and I'll get right on it. If I have it by the end of this week that should be fine. I'll priority mail it out and you should have it before Dec. 17. Made in the shade.

You're right about "commercialism" and "product" (what a term!). I know what you mean about "truth" not coming up. Some writers in a rag called Senses of Cinema and others have mocked me for using that word in my work.What world do they live in? And someone like David Bordwell in the U.S. is just as bad Art becomes all strategies and moves. That's a genre film, a Tarantino movie, not a work of art....... Well, it's their problem, not ours.

Don't envy your LA friends. They work in a factory. If they work at all, which I really doubt. Part of the LA bullshit factor is that you always pretend that you are flourishing and working. You lie about your life just as much as you lie in your work. You never tell the truth. You never admit your problems. So don't believe them. And even if they are working, who wants to be a cog in a machine? Who wants to work on a conveyor belt in a candy factory? Let them have their jobs.

But take those scripts out of the drawer and mount one of them as a play. Read my Faces chapter in Cassavetes on Cassavetes again. That's what you have to do. You could even film them with a cheap video camera if you wanted. You don't have to wait for Hollywood to call. But to do any of that takes a bit of stupidity, the kind that John had, so dare to be stupid.

As to your other questions about saints and needing others to endorse you, the answers are in the Cass on Cass book, but the simplest way to put it is something I'll re-quote and change sightly: Do what you are. Not what you want to be or what you think you ought to be. That's good enough. The doubts. The fears. The discouragement. That's good enough.

That's me, not him, but I think he would have endorsed it.

Best wishes,


P.S. As to Nick, all I'll say is genius is not hereditary. Also he changed a lot when he made that film. The idea that it was strictly from JC's script was PR. Miramax hype. I refused to write a puff piece on it even though they offered me a lot of money to do it.


Hello Ray,

You may remember me from last year when you help Release Print with a story about Caveh Zahedi.

How are you?

I am writing to you know outside my duties as Release Print, as part of a group that is trying to bring Anita Monga back to the Castro Theatre. As you've probably already heard she was was abruptly fired in October by Ted Nasser, owner of the Castro.

Please feel free to spread this far and wide. We are looking for respected members of the community and high-profile writers and filmmakers to write a letter in support of Anita, which we can then read aloud at our demonstration on December 18. Please let me know if you would like to write a letter. You can also join our Yahoo! group to stay informed.

For the past 28 years, we have taken the Castro Theatre for granted. We always assumed it would remain a unique combination of beautiful movie palace and intelligent, innovative programming. But now this cultural treasure is in jeopardy. The owners' recent decision to dismiss Anita Monga, one of the top programmers in the country, has had repercussions that are only beginning to be felt. Filmmakers and distributors have pulled their films from the Castro's upcoming schedule. Because of Monga's abrupt departure, the Castro's ability to present rare archival prints, re-released classics, and cutting-edge documentaries is imperiled.

JOIN US on December 18th from 3-5pm in front of the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street, between 17th & 18th) to protest Monga's firing and demand that the theatre owners bring her back and make it possible for her to continue her work. Their misguided decision has a negative impact not only on their business, but also on San Francisco's reputation as a city that fosters cultural excellence. Without a programmer of Monga's caliber and influence, the newly renovated Castro is just a beautiful shell.

EMAIL to get involved and get updates. Also check out for more information and links to press coverage.

Organized by Audiences in Action, a group of film lovers committed to saving the Castro.

A Cultural Treasure Belongs To Everyone.

Thanks for your time.

Ray Carney replies:


Devastated to hear the news.

I shall post your notice on my web site and call attention to it in every way possible.

I wish you luck in your struggle to defend high principles and values in our world today. It is an uphill battle, but one we must all fight.

Best wishes,



Subject: Paul Klee wasn't a filmaker but at least I'm paying attention

Hello Professor Carney,

I believe I have almost read all of the free stuff on you site (there's no way I can be entirely certain of this however) and now I'd like to pay for some more of your words, good as they are. I'm unable to do this until you can kindly give me a quote for the shipping on these to China, for which I thank you in advance.

-Cass on Cass
-Cass: the adventure of insecurity
-Why Art Matters: Pack
-Necessary Experiences: Pack
-The Films of Mike Leigh: Embracing the World

Although I have been watching films my entire life, I must say that I've only viewed them as art for five years tops. As such, I was wondering if these books, as far as your own work is concerned, are a good place to begin.

I won't lie I've only seen a handful of Cassavetes' films because, as I believe you have mentioned, they threw me for a loop and I wasn't entirely sure how to feel or, in fact, what I'd just been witness to. I enjoy feeling this way for precisely the reason that other art forms I enjoy stir up something similar, although different, everytime viewed, listened to etc.

Thanks for everything,
Dan Lower

Ray Carney replies:


Thanks for the good words. China eh? Would you believe I get more orders from foreign countries than from the good old US of A? I chalk it up to brain damage caused by American TV and Hollywood movies. So it's not really a surprise. Rick Schmidt once told me that the only people who ask him for his opinion about classic films (Rules of the Game, Bicycle Thieves, Voyage in Italy, Stalker, etc.) are foreigners. Never Americans. They only ask what he thinks about the latest by the Coen brothers or the sequel to the Matrix or something like that. They know almost nothing about the real history of the medium. They only know the artificial reality created by advertising and television. The hamster track of hype created by our sick, immoral promotional system.

Anyway, I'll be glad to send you those items. No problem....

You're right, they will be an ideal introduction to the other view of film, the understanding of what art is and does, as opposed to the artificial stimulations the advertising and news systems create and thrive on. The horror of our culture as it creates false needs and desires in its attempt to sell you cinematic snake oil to fill them.



A note from Ray Carney: If you are interested in learning more about (or purchasing) the packets of material mentioned in the preceding or following letters, please click here.


Dear Professor Carney,

How's your upcoming book Telling the Truth in Our Culture of Unreality: The Real Independent Movement: Behind the Hype coming along? I can't wait to get a copy.

I kind of wish there was someone also documenting and exploring the history of the real filmmakers here in my country.

That letter from Dan in China spurred me a bit. Can I also get a price quote on shipping these following items to the Philippines:

-Why Art Matters: Pack
-Necessary Experiences: Pack
- What's Wrong with Film Courses ...

My day job is in a bank. Thankfully, it hasn't encroached into my time to work on my art. But I'm scared when that day will come. I have an ambivalent attitude towards working there. It has allowed me to buy a dv camera and to work on films, but I can't help but wonder if I'm wasting 8 hours a day there that would be needed for the films. As I've learned from a friend, I don't use the word never, but I'll say I don't see myself staying where I work for forty, thirty, twenty, ten, five even three years. But of course there's the balancing act between the means for the biological living and the real living that gets taken for granted ...

After more than two years from my 2nd full length, I'm currently working on a short and it's been wonderful at times, frustrating at times, both at times, but that's what it's about ...

People always manage surprise us no matter how we try to simplify things to suit our own narrow views ...

I used to feel that as an artist, all you had to preoccupy yourself with was self expression, but you, Cassavetes and Tarkovsky taught me about the artist's responsibility ...

Thanks again.

Stay true,
Jan Philippe Carpio

P.S. Apart from Ozu and Kiarostami, what are your opinions on other Asian filmmakers? Those guys are the big names, and there are certainly tons of undiscovered artists out there, but are there any guys out there apart from them that you've encountered?

Are your familiar with the works of Hou Hsiao Hsien, Tsai Ming-Liang from Taiwan? Or Lav Diaz from my country?

On the Western front, have you seen any of the Dardenne brothers works? And there was also this wonderful Czech Republic film shown a few years back at our Cinemanila festival called Double Happiness.


Just wondering how things are going with all that shadows business. Making any progress? I certainly hope so. I wrote a bunch of film critics asking them their opinion on the whole fiasco, but none of them have responded or printed my letters, of course. I didn't really expect them to.

I start another glorious semester of film school soon. You're sure to get an earful. I'm trying to stay away from the theory stuff, though. I'm taking a couple screenwriting classes (which I don't think is really necessary, but at least its creative work), and I'm also taking a Faulkner class with an English professor that I like at this school. I like the way he works. I'm trying to pick up an English Lit minor in addition to the film major, but we'll see if I have room for it before graduation. Probably not.

Seen any good films lately? I liked Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes. Some of the vignettes didn't really work, but some were quite good. I watched The Village, which of course was an utter turd. (Girlfriend dragged me to it, she likes the big budget crap.) Hell, it wasn't even very entertaining which is what I thought these Hollywood movies were supposed to be. It was more absurd than anything, more absurd, even, than Hollywood movies generally are. My brother keeps trying to get me to see Kill Bill vol. 2, but I saw the first one and was totally sickened. It was nothing but non-stop violence. Disturbing, to say the least, especially in the wake of all this 9/11 stuff and the war in Iraq and everything. I haven't seen Michael Moore's 9/11 film, but I'm not really much of a Moore fan. It seems like he has his mind made up about his movies long before he shoots them, so he's never really "exploring" anything. Plus, I can't stand politics. Not his politics, necessarily, just politics in general.

Gallo's Brown Bunny gets its theatrical release soon (August 27th in LA and NY, I think). I'll try and catch it sometime, if I can.

Some good news is that I will be working on a new set of short films this semester, on digital, I'm thinking. It's about two city league baseball players who never really play at all but just sit the bench and talk about stuff. A great deal of it will most likely be improvised (especially if we shoot with video). They will probably be little short films unless I can somehow piece them together into a feature. But I like short films. Some of the most interesting films I can think of are shorts. The two ball players will be played by me and a buddy of mine, Truman Simpson, who coincidentally happens to be OJ Simpson's nephew, no joke. One of the episodes is going to be along the lines of "Do you think OJ did it?" Truman doesn't know that that's one of the subjects, so it will be pretty fun to get his reaction, I think. I've never asked him about that before.
That's about it, I'll stop bothering you now. Hope everything is going well and have a good next semester.

........Had a small question, thinking maybe you could help out. Right now I'm teaching myself art (as in painting, sculpture, architecture, etc. --I figure I'm not learning much in my film major, might as well give myself a healthy education of SOMEthing while I've still got (hopefully) lots of time on this world). Right now I'm reading art history and that sort of thing. Do you know of any critical studies (contemporary or otherwise) pertaining specifically to those mediums I listed above that you would recommend for some helpful insight and guidance? Right now I've got janson's history, and although its good for the history of it, right now I'm interested in reading more critical pieces. I know the artworks themselves are the best teachers, but what would critics exist for if not to provide valuable insights and perspectives? (at least, I think. I hope.)

Anyways, I have your insight for film, my english professor Peter for literature (he's particularly good with his insights on Faulkner and Dickinson), but I'm looking for some good art writing. (After art I'm going to try to teach myself music.

After the arts in general, I'm going to try the sciences and also probably to teach myself as many foreign languages and musical instruments as I can. I love learning!)

Anyways, if you can think of any good texts or authors, and if you have the time (I won't begrudge you if you don't, I know how busy with good ol' Ms. Desmond you must be) let me know. Thanks, and good luck to you.


P.S. Some stuff I'm reading right now: Janson's History of Art (but I already told you that), Bullfinch's Mythology, "Absalom, Absalom!" (I have an essay due), "Faithful" (story of the Red Sox's 2004 season, I've been a Bosox fan since '86, it's my guilty pleasure). Also just finished "Gilead" for the second time.

Ray Carney replies:

Great idea. Great thing to do! Make film eat your dust. Leave it behind and conquer new (and usually better worlds). Terrific.

But, but, but..... the question you ask is impossible to answer. Keep in mind that there are three forms of learning, and only the third form matters. The first two are almost worthless:

1) Learning new facts, events, information:

Felix Mendelssohn composed Midsummer Night's Dream at the astonishing age of 17
Women's return to the workplace largely preceded the feminist movement rather than following it
Cassavetes told me he disliked Minnie and Moskowitz and Gloria and regarded both of them as Hollywood entertainment movies
The impressionist palette lacks black. It favors pastels.
Rembrandt treats his whole canvas with black before painting a stroke.
The carbon molecule can form dozens of different kinds of molecular bonds with oxygen and hydrogen
In the entire amino acid universe only 20 specific acids are synthesized by DNA

2) Learning new systems of knowledge and understanding:

Scherzo movements of symphonies are generally are laid out in the minuet-trio-minuet form: a (repeated)/ b plus a variation (repeated)/ c (repeated) / d plus c variation (repeated) / a plus b plus a variation (da capo)
Economic analysis demonstrates that price is related to scarcity inversely and demand directly
Control of the center of the board must be maintained early in a chess game
Biological systems possess emergent properties. Their complexity can't be reduced to their atomic building blocks.

3) Experiencing not new ideas and thoughts, but new forms of perception. New ways of thinking. New emotions. This is not a matter of knowing or understanding, but of seeing, feeling, sensing--directly, personally, intimately, immediately.

Not knowing that you should control the center of the chessboard, but actually seeing flows of energy, blockages, powerful beams running up and down the board.
Not knowing that Mendelssohn was young, but actually hearing the youthful innocent idealism and inexperience in Midsummer Night's Dream
Not knowing Scherzo or Sonata form, but actually hearing the riffs, the explorations, the expansions, the discoveries, the surprises, the joking, the teasing, the flirting, the playfulness, the deep thoughtfulness as the minuet or sonata unfold, unfurl, uncoil, tighten, twist, move. Not thoughts about what a trio is, but a direct perception of how the trio changes the minuet that preceded it.

So that's the problem you face and that your question poses for me to deal with. You can get number 1 and number 2 learning out of a book, but they don't matter! They are bunches of ideas. They are abstractions. They are schemes of sociology, ideology, and philosophy. And they are worthless. All real learning is beyond ideas. You have to learn to think, to see, to feel without ideas. Real learning is not intellectual but perceptual and emotional. It is immediate and passionate. It is perceptual, not a matter of thoughts about reality, but direct perceptions of reality. What is the sound of one hand clapping? Stop to think and you are dead! Speak! Now! Pause and you're too late.

So that's the place you have to get to. Beyond the knowledge of the lightness and pastelness of the impressionists to the place where you live, feel, sense the quality of the lightness, the place where you breathe a world of light and vision. You have to get beyond the knowledge of the dark backgrounds in Rembrandt to the place where the darkness is sensuous and tangible and spiritually immediate.

Books can only give you learning 1 and 2. Trivial, unimportant, superficial, abstract learning. Life experience (of painting, music, sculpture, dance) gives you learning 3.

So to answer you. What to do? Go to the works and listen, listen, listen, look, look, look, read, read, read. That's the only way to get real learning, not knowledge 1 or 2, knowledge about, knowledge from a distance, mental knowledge, but knowledge 3, knowledge first hand, knowledge from within, knowledge in your heart and veins.

But to be less evasive: Get a good intro to music textbook. Norton publishes a good one by Joseph Machlis. Roger Kamien has written another one. In art criticism, Janson is not bad, but it will be all ideas, history, culture, not sensations and perceptions. I'd go with Gombrich or Panovsky or Seymour Slive on some particular artist or period. Read B.H. Haggin on music. Read Robert Garis on Dickens. Read Susan Sontag's "Against Interpretation." Read Henry James's The Sacred Fount. That might help too. It's a novel that won't be turned into ideas. It won't be abstracted. But mainly, go look at paintings as if you life depended on it. It does. Go to dance as if it could provide answers that will never appear in the newspaper. It does. Listen to Bach and Beethoven as if they could show you how to get through the day. They can. But you have to let them into your blood and glands. You have to reprogram your brain. What you are after (and what they offer you) is not ideas but new ways of seeing and feeling, new relations to experience, new ways of encountering the world afresh.

To repeat: The critical thing is NOT to reduce art to ideas, ideology, sociology, philosophy, or any other abstraction. This is what virtually every art book and art course does. It takes the art out of the art. Art is not a set of ideas. It is a new way of perceiving the world, a way of having new forms of feeling and new kinds of thoughts. Not just new thoughts and feelings, but new kinds of them. Art should not be made part of those tired, old, predictable systems of understanding called cultural studies or sociology. That is to destroy it. To de-art it.

P.S. I've just re-read what I wrote. Forgive the sprawl, the rush. It's a stream of consciousness, off the top of my head email response to your query. Please make allowances..... I've actually written a good bit about this subject so you should look at my writing. The Leigh book talks about this. The Cambridge Cassavetes book talks about this. The essay in the Ludington collection talks about this. They are all on my web site. To read a more careful, thoughtful, meditated response to how to get to this other way of encountering art, get my "What's wrong with film courses....." packet. It's also available on the site. It has much more on the subject of how to think without ideas. It deals with art as a form of sensory reprogramming. And talks about the dangers of reducing work of art to stupid sociological or cultural studies generalizations. ((
Click here to learn how to obtain it.))


Subject: A Constant Forge


My name is Barry Ronan. I am a young filmmaker based in Ireland, and a great fan of Cassavetes. I recently purchased the Criterion CollectionBoxset and have just finished watching Charles Kiselyak's documentary.

It is really terrible - lazy, corny, and boring. It really seems to bethe antithesis of everything that Cassavetes' life & work were about - he must be spinning. Beneath the standard of a one hour Biography channel doc, and of all the subjects to do it to! From watching it, you'd swear it was made by the ghost of Stanley Kramer himself as an act of revenge.

It strikes me that even friends of mine who are die-hard cassavetes fans and critics in their own right seem to be so hungry for material on JC that even if it is as terrible as Kiselyaks' picture, there is nonetheless a desperate sense of gratitude on their part.

Anyway, the reason I write is that I have been reading your website and your comments regarding the debacles of both the boxset and the documentary and I have come to the conclusion that if there is anyone capable of making a halfway decent picture about JC, it would be yourself. So I ask you (after ACF, borderline urge you) if you have seriously thought about making the transition from books to the screen and creating your own documentary on Cassavetes' life and work? Trust
me - there's an audience for it.


Barry Ronan

Ray Carney replies:

Dear Barry,

Thanks for the kind words. Good to hear from you. As you're well aware, we agree completely about Kiselyak's "Constant Forgery." ((Click here to read about Ray Carney's involvement with Kiselyak's flim. Click here to read about the removal of the credit for Carney's work on the Criterion box set.)) It's good to know not everyone is gushing about that piece of trash. Where are the film reviewers when we need them? But with Criterion's power, I doubt anyone other than I will tell the truth about it in print. It's a dirty secret of film reviewing that anyone in a position to write a review of Kiselyak's film secretly hopes Criterion will ask them to do notes for a future project and will consequently never say a bad word about anything they release for fear of getting on their shit list. A lot of film reviewing is that way, in fact. Critics sucking up to someone in the hopes that they can get something out of it later on. Goes a long way toward explaining the awfulness of most film reviewing.

I actually have made a few films in the past, but don't look for them, they're not available any more. Indiscretions of a misspent youth. And I am working on a documentary right now. Or at least making plans and trying to get it off the ground. (Money woes. So what else is new?) But surprise: It's not about Cassavetes. Something else, something much more out there and even more controversial and daring. But that's all I can say for now.

If you or anyone you knew ever were serious about a Cassavetes documentary, I'd be glad to advise you or help in any way I can. But for me, for now, it's on to fresh fields and pastures new. And in a way, my writing covers a lot of what would be in any Cass. doc. I made, so you might say that I'm doing it in words anyway.

Stay well. Fight for the truth. And don't ever compromise on things that matter!

Best wishes,

Ray Carney


Professor Carney,

Just wanted to wish you a merry Christmas, as the cliché runs, or a Happy hannakuh or Kwanzaa or whatever. It doesn't really matter what your persuasion is: I just hope that your holidays are fulfilling ones, and that whatever spirit you worship touches you at the end of this year (and that you have good fortune in the year coming).

I want to thank you again for the inspiring words found on your site, and in your e-mails. It's been a long and tough year, and I was able to turn to your pages for comfort and solace.

My wife and I are going to try the festival circuit this next year. Maybe we'll sell it. Maybe we won't. I don't know. I guess that's part of the adventure of the thing, isn't it?

I'm going to watch "Funny Ha Ha" tonight on the Sundance Channel-- going over to a relative's, since we don't have cable. I never would have heard of it if not for your site. Thank you for championing these little films, the ones that us Midwesterners would never hear of, let alone see, if not for people like you. Thank you for fighting the pop culturists and socio-political-ecomonic interpeters of art, and most of all, thank you for fighting the formalists, the David Bordwells and their ilk: they tear art apart like autopsies, disregarding the existence of the soul and putting the organs in bags and jars, labelled "mise en scene" and "pan shots" and "Wellesian angles" and "symbolic modes of blah blah blah blah blah". Formalism is the death knell of cinematic criticism, the last resort of psuedo-intellectuals too afraid to look at other human beings.

(Particularly disgusting is a passage in David Bordwell's excrutiatingly boring "Film Art: an introduction", in which he discusses acting styles. Not actors, not acting, but the style of the acting. An acting style can be put in a bag, too, right next to "cinema verite style" and "three-point lighting" and "Eisensteinian montage".)

Anyway, thanks for fighting the good fight. I hope this next year is as happy, and fulfilling, and at least as interesting as it has been this last year. (Looking forward, by the way, to hearing about this new Cassavetes discovery you mention on your site. Do you know approximately when you're going to spring it on the world?)

--Tom Russell

Ray Carney replies:

Thanks, Tom. Happy New Year to you too! I have a lot in my books on the stupidity of the Bordwell approach to film so you'll get no agument from me about that one. He is still one of the kings of film studies however. Shows what a bad state the field is in. But I'm the only professor who will say so, as far as I can tell. The rest are afraid of making enemies of their powerful colleagues. They sell their souls for success in their careers.

As to the new discovery, there are more than one. I'll post it on my site in due time. All best wishes.



From Barry Ronan (see the letter to Prof. Carney above):

Prof. Carney:

Thanks for your prompt reply. I agree with what you say about the critics.

Whether JC related or not, I'm glad to hear you have a documentary in the pipeline. I hope it comes to fruition as I quite like your written work, Cassavetes on Cassavetes being a really illuminating read. I purchased a copy as a Christmas present for my girlfriend as she is an actress and I believe it will be an extremely valuable text for young actors to read before they get bludgeoned with Stanislavski, Strasberg, etc.

Wishing you the best with your future projects,

Barry Ronan


Subject: Thanks and Husbands DVD.

Prof Carney:

First off, it's a total pleasure to have someone as yourself to act as mediator and teacher of John's beautiful and heartbreaking works. As a young actor and writer, I find too few—if any—of my peers who have any idea who John was or what he did for us. It's sad, really, but then again, I aim to channel some of John's spirit into my own performances and writing. As artists we all have the responsibility to not simply carry the torch on, which should not be underestimated, but to keep that torch burning with altogether new revelations and efforts. John wouldn't want to be simply copied, but digested, destroyed and reborn anew through future visions.

That said, I was delighted to find the new DVD set of John's work recently released. It's been long overdue. However I was disappointed by the omission of Husbands in the set, my favorite of his films. Do you have any information on a projected release date, and why the hold up? And if they are making one, do you think it will include the BBC documentary on the making of it? Ideally it would be a 2 disc set, ideally.

Thanks for the time and keep up the good work!!

Marco Mannone

Ray Carney replies:

My web site explains the situation. I wanted to include that documentary but its inclusion got vetoed by Rowlands and Criterion, probably as cutting into the Kiselyak movie's glory. I wanted to include Husbands and Love Streams and Too Late Blues and Child Is Waiting and a lot of other things also! But business is business and Peter Becker made a deal with Julian Schlossberg at Castle Hill for those five films so the films that Castle Hill had the rights to were the only ones included. That's the way business works. Just between us: On top of that, as far as I can tell, the reason Rowlands doesn't give a hang about the others is because there is not enough money to be made for her by including them.They are owned by studios. (And if she was in charge of a Husbands release, watch out: She has endorsed cuts in the film. That's why UCLA made them when they restored the print. She said she disliked the Leola Harlow scene and the bathroom scenes. Click here to hear the audio of twelve minutes that were cut at the end of the singing scene and the beginning of the men's room scene in Husbands. I have written about that too, but there's more to say of course.)

You're right about not imitating John. Pablo Picasso once said "I imitate no one. Not even myself." A lesson for all artists. That's why I ended the Cassavetes on Cassavetes book with the quote I end with.

Keep going, and imitate no one. Not even yourself!



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© Text Copyright 2006 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.