Things shift in your memory. I've only watched Too Late Blues once, sometime in 2006. At the time, it seemed like a road not taken, the sort of film (and A Child is Waiting seemed this way, too) that Cassavetes could've spent the rest of his life making, but didn't. The Cassavetes that could've been, but thankfully wasn't: a Cassavetes distinguished by subject matter and seriousness more the attentiveness, all-encompassing action or a direct relationship, almost a marriage, between a camera and an emotion. A damn good movie, with Darin's best acting and one of the greatest one-off performance in American film -- Everett Chambers (a television and theatre producer) as Darin's manager, doing the sorts of things with emotions that Cassavetes would end up demanding of all of his actors. I still preferred the path he'd end up on.
But certain things stick out in your memory, like little islands in an ocean. The ocean changes, or maybe it's a question of the tides, and after a few years those islands seem to stand out just as much, but out of something different. Now I think ,"It's Cassevetes, and that should be good enough for all of us. No excuses." Maybe back then I lived to make excuses for everything, and I didn't like most of the films I saw; now I don't feel the need to apologize much, the apologies all seem like surrenders to something running counter to cinema, and with every week, I find myself liking everything more and more. And yet back then I was less critical -- I didn't think as much. But I guess to think about something all the time, you really have to love it.
One of those little islands is a shot that seemed like a stray, the later Cassavetes shining through in one of his early films. Now it seems to anchor the film, as though it wasn't premonition -- as though what I "preferred" to the film was there all along. It's a shot of a shoulder, really, with a woman's face emerging from behind it, like a figure coming around a corner. I had to go back to the film to see if it was really there, if I hadn't misremembered it or ascribed it more purpose than it really deserved. It's there: she rests her head on her fist, as though forcing her face up. She's crying. We can see tears on her knuckles. She says only one word: "Hi."