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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_bye_bye_man

The Bye Bye Man

The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.

Thumb_book_of_love_ver2

The Book of Love

The feature debut of director and co-writer Bill Purple does not feature a single authentic moment. Imperfect would actually be a step up.

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…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Festivals & Awards Archives
Other Articles
Blog 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

2017 Golden Globes: Meryl Streep vs. Trumpland

Meryl Streep and other awards recipients shared their thoughts on an America under Donald Trump during last night's G...

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

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

Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" an Unfunny Parody of Sadness

A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.

The Return of Peter Cushing: Another Look at an Underrated Career

A look at highlights from the career of the great Peter Cushing.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus