Monday, November 2, 2009

Polanski, Rosemary and Chinatown

Roman Polanski appears to be a creepy individual whose personal life I must and will condemn. He seems to be remorseless about his hideous crime against a young girl and, despite the later tragedy in his own life, this tragedy imposed upon the girl and her family must be remembered and abhorred.

Having written the above, I must also say he makes a damn good movie.

At least two are favorites of mine, the nastily-driven ROSEMARY'S BABY and the brilliant CHINATOWN. Both movies are long and complicated, but never boring. If you're paying attention. Both are cast extraordinarily well, and feature absorbing stories told with scathing detail and awareness of what moves an audience viscerally. It took me two viewings of CHINATOWN to realize how great a film it is, mainly because I watched it lazily the first time around. CHINATOWN is not a movie that can be watched lazily and appreciated. Same goes for ROSEMARY'S BABY, which I watched again last night. Mia Farrow, probably not much of an actor at that time (she grew immeasurably in that department when she began working with Woody Allen), is dragged through an emotional and physical wringer in the movie, and one gets the impression that Polanski must have dragged her through it. The rest of the talented and experienced cast looks like they're on their own and they enjoy the freedom. Farrow is the director's tool and the movie is better for it. It seems odd to write favorably about Polanski treating his young leading lady this way, but I write purely about the cinematic aspects of the director's tool kit. I supposed I might read somewhere that he mistreated Farrow along the way to get what he needed from her performance. I hope not. ROSEMARY'S BABY goes on my list as one of the most successfully executed thrillers I've seen. Maybe not up there with PSYCHO and SEVEN, but pretty close.

As I watched ROSEMARY'S BABY, the Yankees stepped all over the Phillies again, leaving the third base bag uncovered for Johnny Damon to steal along with any momentum the Phils gained in the bottom of the eighth.

It will all be over soon.

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