In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_large_pyzhflb8qgqszkr4ku8mwrjayfa

The Do-Over

At one point, I checked the time code on Netflix and saw that the movie had over forty minutes to go. I visibly winced.

Thumb_balpko1iwwmmxte0ffzy9fw3jid

Of Men and War

Bécue-Renard brings his own brutality to the topic of PTSD, by putting us at odds with feeling his subjects' pain, or only studying it.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives
Primary_gw3-thumb-500x212-18642

Is The Ghost Writer a Polanski masterpiece?

F.X. Feeney, writing in the L.A. Weekly, thinks so: "... relentless in its suspense; funny when you least expect it; above all, deeply conscious of political power and its corruptions." The film was in the final stages of post-production when Polanski was arrested in Switzerland (he finished it while under house arrest) and Feeney sees in it themes that lead, as all Polanski themes must, through the filmmaker's life and, inevitably, back to "Chinatown":

Noah Cross (owing to Robert Towne's superb screenplay) could proclaim a demonic philosophy when cornered, saying: "Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and right place, they're capable of anything." [Tom] Wilkinson's smooth operator conceals what he's thinking at all times, usually behind an inscrutable grin and lighthearted (if poison-tipped) reproaches: "A less equable man might find your questions impertinent."

"The Ghost Writer" is thus less heartrending than "Chinatown" but intellectually more ambitious. Behind its most dominant figures there operates a globally vast, falsely benevolent corporate entity called "Hatherton" -- Halliburton, anyone? -- whose philanthropies mask weapons sales, proclaiming: "We Keep You Safe From Harm!" In such a world, no head of state is ever truly in charge -- nor is any organized populace. That is the real terror at work here, and for this lucidity Polanski is in debt to co-screenwriter Robert Harris, author of the novel on which the film is based. The news media are mindless pawns of these powers-that-be, inciting swarms of crazies to camp at the former prime minister's gate and cry "Murderer!!!" as he enters his retreat on Martha's Vineyard. (The whole British government appears to be camped in exile on this American isle of wealth, which gives the proceedings a certain Shakespearean, fairyland quality.) One can only wish we lived in an America where "war crimes" alleged against recent heads of state are so vehemently protested. Polanski's absurd bad luck is that his own wrongdoing of three decades ago is still causing such commotion, when more recent and more historically consequential crimes go unexplored.

The idea of guilt in the world of Polanski is a messy, muddled, fluid one. It is contagious, permeating everything. "Of course, he has to swim in the same water we all do," Jake Gittes says of his old partner back in Chinatown, describing the predicament of all who inhabit the sewer of corruption known as Los Angeles (controlled by the monolithic Department of Water & Power, a private/public institution whose Mabuse-like influence courses through the entire city). Not only is everyone tainted, but each person's guilt enables and reinforces the others'.

"I don't blame myself," says Noah Cross.

And Feeney writes, of "The Ghost Writer":

The public figures that the swirling mobs so furiously denounce as guilty may certainly be guilty -- most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and right place, they're capable of anything -- yet there is always someone far worse, or a host of someones far more evil, who are making a clean getaway."

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Memoirs of a Geisha, Part II: How Are Geisha or Nerd Stereotypes Harmful?

Part two of Jana Monji's essay about the portrayal of Asian characters in cinema.

Back to "Roots" with a Multi-Channel Remake of the Television Classic

A review of the History Channel remake of the landmark mini-series, "Roots."

I believe Dylan Farrow

Separating the artist from the art isn't as easy as it sounds.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus