**BE AWARE that if you rent or buy the digital version of this, you will not get to see the extras that some of the reviewers here referred to (such as extended interviews and a short film). Those are only included on the DVD. The documentary that is streamed here from Amazon is only 40 min.
With that being said, I did enjoy the film but felt that it should've been longer. It feels like an abridged portrait of his life and work. Perhaps I would've been satisfied with the extra features that come with the DVD, but without seeing them, I can't say. Because of it's short length and not being the most in depth of documentaries, I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.
I've been in love with John Cazale since I was a teenager and first saw him in Dog Day Afternoon, so I was really excited when I recently heard about this movie. I've been a huge movie fanatic since my teens and he has been in my top favorite actors ever since. I remember fervently seeking out every movie John Cazale had ever done and how shocked and saddened I was when I learned that his life had been cut short at such a young age. The 5 films he was in are all films that I've watched dozens of times (except for The Deer Hunter... I've only seen that a few times as it's pretty long and brings with it a hefty emotional load).
There is some great commentary from some of the actors and directors who worked with Cazale: Francis Ford Coppola, Sidney Lumet, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Robert De Niro John Savage and Meryl Streep (of whom was in, what seemed to be, a very loving relationship w/Cazale all the way until his untimely demise of lung cancer at 42). It stands to reason that he was hugely influential to, not just his colleagues and contemporaries, but probably also countless actors to come after him. Also interviewed are a few of those who most likely have taken a page from the Cazale school of acting book and who are also immensely talented in their own right (Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sam Rockwell). They've become some of the best actors of my generation and it's wonderful to hear them talk about Cazale's influence. For obvious reasons, it's also very bittersweet to see and listen to Philip Seymour Hoffman, an equally brilliant actor who's life and, hence, career, was cut all too short.
I wish that all of the interviews had been longer, especially from his friends and family and those who worked with him.
You don't get a very thorough picture of his personal life, his background and what possibly shaped him. It just made me sad that his life and work are pared down to just 40 minutes. Just like his life, this film was much, much too short But, again, perhaps more depth is revealed in the extended interviews...
"Cut short" seems to be a running theme to this review!
Anyway, all in all, I'm happy that someone took the time to honor John Cazale's life and his brilliance as an actor and whether or not you're a fan or have just discovered him, this movie is worth the time.