Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John Cassavetes Red Pepper, Olive Oil, Garlic & Pasta - 3 Videos

A John Cassavetes flick is a cinematic palate cleanser. After a steady diet of predictable and anemic Hollywood film scraps it's great to dig into raw, spicy and unpredictable filmmaking. And I've come up with a pasta dish that is as fiery as one of my favorite filmmakers, called: John Cassavetes Red Pepper, Olive Oil, Garlic & Pasta.

 As unconventional as the 99 Cent Chef, John Cassavetes films were made on a shoestring budget just like my cuisine is! Cassavetes is a method actor with an unadorned style that matches the way I cook -- straightforward recipes stripped down, real and packed with flavor. My latest dish is no phony. Scroll down past the video clips for the easy-to-make recipe.

And Cassavetes freewheeling DIY aesthetic of using real locations, actor friends, minimal crew and film equipment, influences the way I do my own videos -- just click on any of the following: "L.A. Street Hot Dog," "The 99 Cent Chef Meets Pedro Pe," "Carney's Hot Dog Happy Hour" and "Bloggers 99c White Wine Tasting."

Cassavetes is a true brother of the French New Wave of the '50s and '60s. And you can see his influence on everyone from Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" and last year's "The Wrestler" by Darren Aronofsy, to the mumblecore film genre out of Austin, Texas. It always comes down to two characters hashing it out on the harsh neon night street, in a drab room, or over drinks at a dimly lit bar.

Now is the time to bone up on the Cassavetes oeuvre at my favorite cinema arthouse, the Silent Movie Theater. Join the Chef and the rest of The Cinefamily for upcoming live appearances by Ben Gazzara ("Husbands",) Seymour Cassel ("Minnie And Moskowitz") and Gena Rowlands ("Woman Under The Influence") -- all this month! The Chef will have his camera on hand to record these raconteurs. So check back to see it all. More video interview clips will be added over the next week. And click here for the rest of this month's John Cassavetes film schedule.

If you get there before I do, save me a front row couch seat!

First up is Ben Gazzara. The guy can tell a story. I saw him Saturday at the "Husbands"  screening (click here for an interesting making-of documentary about "Husbands"). The movie house was packed. Watch the clip below to hear his take on acting and working with Cassavetes. Warning, Ben drops the f-bomb only once (@ 2:01,) while describing a 1968 screening of "Faces" -- he is one feisty interview.
Ben Gazzara Interview - Video

Play it here. The video runs 6 minutes, 13 seconds.

To view or embed from Youtube, click here.

My next video is an interview with Seymour Cassel for the screening of "Minnie and Moskowitz," (trailer here.) Seymour is the most approachable fellow you will ever meet. When I picked up my will-call ticket at the Silent Movie Theater box office, he was hanging outside on the sidewalk smoking a cigar and chatting with anyone who approached. Ask one question and he is off and running, as you will see in the video.

John Cassavetes launched Seymour Cassel's career with the 1968 film "Faces," for which he was nominated for an acting Academy Award. The guy is a fun interview, and I know you will enjoy this next video (an f-bomb drops @ 2:06.)

Seymour Cassel Interview - Video

Play it here. The video runs 4 minutes, 26 seconds.

To view or embed from Youtube, click here.

Well, I've saved the best for last. My third and final video is an interview with Gena Rowlands (who was married to Cassavetes until he died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1989 at the age of 59.) All of John Cassavetes films have wild scenes, but "Woman Under The Influence" has more great scenes than any other (click here.) And Gena Rowlands rips the lead role apart, taking it places no one else dare go.

After the interview wine was served in the back patio while Gena Rowlands held court -- signing John Cassavetes dvd box sets and taking pictures with fans. It was a cool evening. So check out my last video, Gena is an excellent storyteller.  

Gena Rowlands Interview - Video

Play it here. The video runs 8 minutes, 35 seconds.

To view or embed from Youtube, click here.

And now on to my John Cassavetes Red Pepper, Olive Oil, Garlic & Pasta.

Simply spicy and delicious best describes my latest pasta dish. This Italian dinner table classic gets a 99 Cent Chef makeover. Normally, a handful of peeled garlic cloves are sauteed in olive oil, then thrown out -- seems a waste; I just take a tablespoon of crushed (or chopped) garlic and lightly brown it in oil. Everything else is done typically -- adding crushed red pepper flakes, cooked pasta, and finishing with parmesan cheese.

This dish takes twice the normal amount of olive oil, but the addition of garlic and red pepper builds a pungent and spicy sauce.

All the ingredients are cheap, just the way this chintzy chef likes it. Plus, it's so quick to do; this dish comes together in the time it takes to cook your pasta.

It's cupboard cuisine at its most convenient -- a jar of crushed garlic, packaged pasta, bottled olive oil, and a spice jar of red pepper flakes. A satisfying meal that's quick to prepare after a long day at the office, or on the movie set!

Ingredients (1 - 2 servings)
  • 1/2 package (about 6 ounces) of your favorite pasta - I used spaghetti.
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil - or any tasty vegetable oil. It's time to get out the good stuff !
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped or crushed garlic - fresh or from the jar.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried red chile pepper flakes.
  • 2 tablespoons of dried or fresh grated parmesan cheese - optional.
  • *If you have any fresh herbs on hand, add a chopped teaspoon for extra flavor.


Start your pasta boiling, and cook according to package directions. I usually shave off a couple of minutes for al dente.

First add crushed garlic to an unheated medium size pan (but large enough to add cooked pasta). Don't add garlic from the jar to a hot pan or it will splatter and make a mess.

Next add oil and turn on the heat to medium/low. Saute garlic for about 3 minutes until it starts to lightly brown. Watch garlic closely as it is easy to burn. Add red chile flakes and mix well.

Pasta should be done by now (okay to precook pasta). Mix in pasta - heat through. Finally, sprinkle on dried parmesan cheese (or fresh grated) and any fresh herbs you may have on hand (optional). That's a wrap!  Cut, print - enjoy!


Desert Dogs California said...

Sounds good. I might have to try this tomorrow!

K. Gill said...

That was a great post. I learned a lot about Cassavetes' work. Thanks for all the links.

99 Cent Chef said...

hi K.Gill, thanks, It was a fun Cassavetes' festival, maybe one will come to your town?

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