Accidental Genius

John Cassavetes, who died in 1989, probably would have been tickled by this year’s Best Picture win for Crash, a thematically ambitious indie that carries genetic strands of his prickly, pioneering work in films like 1959’s Shadows and 1974’s A Woman Under the Influence. As the actor-director once put it, he was ”interested in shaking people up, not making them happy by soothing them.” Pursuing his stubborn, uncommercial art in an era before boutique studios and Sundance, he relied upon the generosity of friends such as Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara, a wife and muse (Gena Rowlands) willing to let him mortgage the house (more than once), and mindless, lucrative acting gigs to pay off the debts. Not all of his films have aged well, but Cassavetes emerges in Marshall Fine’s multifaceted, warts-and-all portrait, Accidental Genius, as unequivocally inspiring.

Accidental Genius
  • Book
  • Miramax