Saturday, October 17, 2009

Films: Polanski and Chinatown

"Chinatown" (1974) is my all-time favorite feature length movie. Its Richmond premiere was at the Biograph on June 28, 1974. Now with its director Roman Polanski in the news, it's only natural that his masterpiece be reconsidered.

Peter Shilling Jr. has written an excellent and timely piece about "Chinatown," as viewed through a 35-years-later prism.
Some want [Polanski] in the electric chair. Others want him in the director's chair, back home in Hollywood.
But I'll tell you this: it's all there in Chinatown. This is the great movie about Los Angeles, the greatest reflection of that city and the closest in mood to the novels of L.A.'s great writer, Raymond Chandler. Chinatown is about the menace that burns bright in the Southern California sunshine, about the undertow that pulls bathing beauties to their deaths, and makes every man, woman, and child who soaks up the sun complicit in every crime committed within its borders. It's the city that people ran to in order to escape atrocities--like Auschwitz--only to discover that sometimes Hell is a sunny place with palm trees lining the streets like a firing squad. If you want to go deep into the Polanski's life, watch Chinatown.
Click here to read the rest of the article.

And, once the award-winning director of other respected films such as "Knife in the Water," "Repulsion," "Rosemary's Baby," "Tess," and "The Pianist," gets hauled back to Los Angeles, it's going to be a media circus to rival O.J.'s trial.

Won't that be fun for the cable news networks?

No, I don't know anything about international law or extradition agreements between Switzerland and America. But one can easily get the sense that Polanski is eventually going to have to face the music in LA for what he did over 30 years ago.

Moreover, it's hard to believe that the end product of this whole process will be anything close to satisfying. No matter what a new judge in LA decides, it's unlikely it will seem much like justice that settles the matter for good, and serves society's interests.

Gladstone's "Justice delayed is justice denied" sticks to this baby like glue.

The culture has changed quite a bit since 1977. "Pretty Baby" and even "Manhattan" wouldn't get made today. Polanski's victim, 45-year-old Samantha Geimer, seems to want no part of punishing him at this point. Some money has apparently changed hands between Geimer and Polanski.

Yet, there's no way a moral society can countenance the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl.

Polanski must wish he'd have stayed in France. Now he's trying to finish his current film project from inside the walls of a Swiss jail.

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