Tag: Roman Polanski

MOVIE REVIEW | ***HALLOWEEN WEEK*** Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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“We’re your friends, Rosemary. There’s nothing to be scared about. Honest and truly there isn’t!”

Things don’t get much more of the time in hip film making, than the late 60s, Roman Polanksi, Mia Farrow and John Cassvetes. Polanksi was a European wunderekind making his first American movie. Farrow was married to Frank Sinatra. And Cassavetes was a bad ass indie film maker who was the epitome of an artist. So when they all got together to make Rosemary’s Baby, it’s no wonder the end result was one of the most highly regarded horror movies of all time.


It’s hip and happening New York City in the 60s, and hip and happening young couple Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) move into a new apartment. Vacant after the death of its last tenant, the apartment offers a few small oddities, but nothing that can’t be covered by new wall paper and rugs. After hearing their neighbours through the paper thin walls, Rosemary and Guy soon meet them in person. Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman (Sidney Blackmer) are a couple of sweet oldies who are more than happy to help the young couple in any way they can. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #21. Chinatown (1974)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
Chinatown
“Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”

Film noir of the 40s and 50s is one of the most quintessentially American contributions to cinema.  But 30 years after its peak, it took a little Polish fella directing and one of the leaders of the American new wave starring, to make what might be one of the best examples of film noir, with Chinatown.


A former cop and now PI in 1930s Los Angeles, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is fresh off finding one cheating spouse when he’s commissioned to find another.  Evelyn Mulwray (Diane Ladd) is sure her husband Hollis is cheating, and she pays Jake to find the truth.  Tailing Hollis first leads to a town meeting where he opposes the construction of a new dam to help supply the drought ridden LA with water.  Eventually, Jake spots Hollis with a young woman, snaps a few photos and they end up on the cover of the paper the next day. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

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During World War II, Roman Polanksi’s mother was killed while a prisoner at Auscwhich.  In 1968, Roman Polanski directed the modern classic Rosemary’s Baby.  In 1969, Roman Polanksi’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson’s followers.  In 1974, Roman Polanski directed the modern classic Chinatown.  In 1977, Roman Polanski was arrested for the sexual assault of a thirteen year old girl.  In 1978, Romani Polanksi fled to France to avoid imprisonment for the sexual assault.  In 2002, Roman Polanski won the Best Director Academy Award for The Pianist.  Yep, all that happened in real life, to one dude.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired is an impressively dense and thorough documentary that manages to cover a lot of this stranger than fiction life with surprising detail in its economical 99 minute running time.   While around half of it is devoted to the sexual abuse trial, the other half really does give an in depth overview of what came before, with a brief prologue of what has happened since.

With a story so divisive, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired manages the tough job of never seeming to really take a side.  At no stage did I get the impression that director Marina Zonvich sees Polanksi as a persecuted, artistic genius, or as a sickening paedophile who escaped justice to live the good life in France.  It couldn’t have been easy to not take a side and show even a little bias in a story this polarising.

Having said all of that, it did make me feel a little more sympathy for Polanski.  Not for what he did that night to a 13 year old girl in Jack Nicolson’s house, but for his decision to flee to Europe.  Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired intricately lays out the trial, piece by piece, including interviews with lawyers from both sides, and exposes the judge as being more interested in the fame he might achieve, than he was in the case itself.

Unfortunately, this documentary was made before Polanksi’s 2009 arrest in Switzerland and the US prosecutor’s unsuccessful attempt at extradition.  So that major, recent addition to the bonkers story of Polanski’s life doesn’t get a mention, but that might be for the best.  I can’t see how Zenovich could have found room for such a huge new chapter in this story.  Maybe that’s a topic covered in 2011’s Roman Polanksi: A Film Memoir (although based on the trailer, it looks like a bit of a puff piece, wank job).

If you know anything at all about Polanski and the sexual assault case, you probably already have a firm opinion on the matter and I don’t think Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired will change that, no matter which side of the fence you fall on.  What I do think it will do, is make you understand Polanski’s actions after the trial a little better.  Has he been adequately punished for his crimes?  This documentary isn’t interested in answering that question.  And it’s that kind objectivity that makes it so interesting and effective.

Roman Polanksi: Wanted and Desired
Directed By – Marina Zenovich
Written By – Marina Zenovich, Joe Bini, P.G Morgan