Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Last Night's Movie Geeks

We had a great turnout last night for Movie Geeks Club. Most of our regulars were in the house, and we had several new faces. Thanks for coming out, folks.

We screened Roman Polanski's The Pianist last night, and by the time it was over, everyone in the house was thoroughly depressed and feeling guilty about the burgers they'd consumed while watching the Szpilman family split an overpriced caramel 6 ways. This is really an incredible film. It really does a good job of placing the viewer into the life of Szpilman during his struggle for survival during World War II. A very moving film.

The voting was finished last night for the May Movie Geeks selection, and the winner is: The Seventh Seal. Regarded as a masterpiece of cinema, Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal follows the journey of a Medieval knight (Max von Sydow) across a bleak and plague-ridden landscape. Along the way, he encounters many facets of Medieval life during the plague, particularly how people of the time faced impending death and the lengths they would go to in order to keep death from coming for them. The film is probably best known for its scene in which Block, the knight, has to play a game of chess against Death, with his fate to be decided by the outcome of the game. This scene has been parodied on numerous occasions, most notably in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, in which Bill and Ted defeat Death at Battleship, Clue, electric football and Twister.

Micah and I are still kicking around some ideas for the nominations for the June movie. We were thinking about feature-length documentaries. We'd come up with a list of five and you could vote on the one you'd like to see. We've not yet screened a documentary, and I thought it might be a nice change of pace. Another thought is that we've seen a couple of long, slowly paced films, and maybe we'd like to do something a little more fast-paced and intense for the warm weather month of June. Thoughts, Movie Geeks?

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Polanski Problem

As you know, this month we are playing our second Roman Polanski film. The Pianist is a great film and everyone was really excited about seeing Rosemary's Baby. I also think Chinatown would be a great film noir to show in the future as well. So there is no doubt that Polanski is a great director. Unfortunately, there is often an inner struggle on how much to like him.

Polanski's life is in itself a great story that should be made into a film. His father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic (both Polish). His young life could have been played out in The Pianist. He and his family were forced into the Krakow Ghetto by the Nazis. His mother was eventually sent to Auschwitz where she died and his father barely survied a concentration camp in Austria. Roman escaped the ghetto and ended up living in his grandfather's barn until the end of the war.

Fast forward to his early film career. His first big picture was Rosemary's Baby which was filmed in New York. Shortly after that was released he met Sharon Tate. They fell in love and got married. She got pregnant and they moved to a Hollywood Hills home that was formerly owned by Candice Bergen and Terry Melcher. Shortly after they moved in, Charles Manson ordered the break in at the home and the murders of everyone inside. That included the brutal murder of Sharon Tate and their unborn baby. It was more a case of mistaken identity because the target was Melcher.

To that point, his life seemed full of tragedies that always followed him. But in 1977, Polanski was photographing a 13 year old girl at Jack Nicholson's house and he she accused him of raping her. This is where the Polanski story gets complicated. He plead guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor but the judge threw out the plea bargain and convicted him of rape and several other charges including rape by use of drugs. Polanski fled the country so he would not have to serve time. Polanski claimed that the mother of the girl set the situation up for blackmail but his accuser stands by her story to this day. She does appear to want to put it behind her. He has not set foot on U.S. soil for 30 years.

Here is THE problem. Do you believe him? Was he innocent? Why not believe the accuser Samantha Geimer? If you do believe he is guilty, can you still enjoy his films? He is a convincted child rapist. Shouldn't we protest? Do we believe he is innocent because he couldn't have possibly committed this act becuase he is a great director? So if he where a mediocre or bad director or actor, he would be more likely to be guilty? Robert Blake? Nobody wants to see him again, let alone praise him for his work. I tried to think of other examples but he came to mind first. Hollywood is a bit hush-hush to the situation but the Oscar nominations for The Pianist did create some controversy.

So my conclusion is this. Roman Polanski has directed a few great films but I think he should either be fighting for himself or doing time.

I still watch his films but I believe that he could be doing more to clear his name. He certainly has the money to pay attorney's to work out another deal. He seems not to be too damaged by the fact that he can't return back to the U.S. It's like he's saying "Oh well." I don't like that about him. I consider the charge to be very serious. I guess the question comes up all the time with celebrities. Charlton Heston just died but the tributes were very light from Hollywood because of his NRA stance. So can you seperate the work from the personal side? The same goes for Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. Can you still enjoy their work? I ask more questions than I can answer. I am probably making it more complicated than it needs to be but it always burdens me when I hear the name Roman Polanski.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On David Lynch

David Lynch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Unfinished and unrealized projects"

I came across this section of David Lynch's Wiki about his unfinished or unrealized projects, and I just had to share some of them. I would love to see some of these projects come to life. They're just crazy enough to be totally beautiful pieces of art. As for Lynch doing an adaptation of Kafka's The Metamorphosis, I'm not sure there is a better director out there for the project. This is right down Lynch's alley. Anyway, here they are:

One Saliva Bubble: This was a comedy that Lynch co-wrote with Mark Frost and intended to direct with Steve Martin and Martin Short starring. It was set in Kansas. Robert Engels describes the premise of the film in Lynch on Lynch: "It's about an electric bubble from a computer that bursts over this town and changes people's personalities – like these five cattlemen, who suddenly think they're Chinese gymnasts. It's insane!"

The Dream of the Bovine: Lynch and Robert Engels wrote the screenplay for this film after Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. According to Engels in Lynch on Lynch, the film was about "three guys, who used to be cows, living in Van Nuys and trying to assimilate their lives."

The Lemurians: This was a TV show that Lynch was going to do with Mark Frost based on the continent of Lemuria. Their premise for the show was that Lemurian essence was leaking from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and becomes a threat to the world. It was intended to be a comedy but when Lynch and Frost tried to pitch this show to NBC, the network rejected it.

Metamorphosis: This was intended to be an adaptation of the story written by Franz Kafka. Lynch has expressed on several accounts his desire to film the story of Metamorphosis. He has even written a script. The main reason that Lynch has not filmed it is a matter of money and technology involving the transformation of a man into a beetle.