Victoria Jelinek


Polanski Exhibit in Paris

http://www.france24.com/en/20171030-france-roman-polanski-retrospective-sex-assault-allegations-paris-protest-cinema-weinstein

Chinatown_1It makes me frustrated and sad that feminist groups are protesting this retrospective of Roman Polanski’s work at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris. The exhibit is not about the man and allegations of sexual misconduct against him – it is about his filmmaking, and his films are masterpieces.

As an aside, for those interested in hearing details about his 1973 rape conviction in Los Angeles, the then-girl that Polanski raped supported a 2008 documentary that claimed there was judicial misconduct in the case, which may inform one’s opinion of the situation.

I am NOT defending assault or sexual harassment or sexual predators. I worked in Hollywood for ten years, and am not naive to the innuendos and injustices against women behind closed doors AND on the screen. It bothers me tremendously that I have to insert that disclaimer from the ‘get go’ in the hope of being listened to and not judged as a sexist or “traitor” myself. But sexism and misogyny exist in all fields and are insidious elements in every society. What I AM condemning is what seems to be a fevered frenzy at the moment. I AM condemning the lack of judiciousness on the part of the public. Allegations are ‘coming out of the woodwork’ about claims of hands on knees, or “inappropriate suggestions,” or implicit expectations, or “gropes,” from a variety of sources, which, in my opinion, undermines actual rape, assault, and battery and adds to a cacophony that is no longer really listened to, becoming, instead, part of an over-information storm akin to the environment depicted in A Brave New World. Why aren’t people being more critical about the recent barrage of sexual misconduct claims against celebrities and public figures? Why aren’t people considering the details, such as source, context, the current social climate (desire for celebrity status, however short lived, an age of “alternative facts” and moral perceptions entering popular “knowledge” and worse, politics, rising populism in the face of fear and a general sense of powerlessness, etc.).

Why aren’t we looking to the elements that create sexism and misogyny in the first place? I won’t even get into philosophical ruminations on the role of woman as “other” in society, but suggest concrete considerations: perhaps start with inequality in reproductive care, such as easy access to birth control or a safe abortion? Or inadequate financial help for single mothers? Or inequality in pay for the same work between men and women, as well as unequal opportunities to enter certain fields? Or inadequate practical support and protection for victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault? Or inadequate representation of women in politics, which, perhaps, comes down to inequality in campaign financing? Or inadequate protection for women during divorce, especially from powerful or abusive husbands? Why are we, instead, focusing on the language we use, and exhibits of artwork, and ‘crimes’ based on hearsay propagated by social media platforms whose only interest is in identifying and categorizing the parameters of our consumer behavior?
If we protest the work of a great filmmaker based on his personal life – the details of which have not been proven without a doubt in a court of law anywhere in the world (prompting the question as to whether there is real respect for the law), then soon, we’ll be pulling books from male authors that discuss a woman’s body in a sexual light, of which there are many. And films that objectify women, of which there are many. And if we begin going down that road, we must eliminate classic film and literature that perpetuates stereotypes about women, men, Germans, Russians, Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, the French, the Spanish, Arabs, or the Chinese. Why not watch them, read them, study and discuss them? Deconstruct and consider the context they were created in, and by whom, and the opinions and emotions they inspire in us now and ask “why” frequently. If we start censoring art and expression – which is what this is – then we will soon have a dull, moralistic, constrained society with little imagination motivated absolutely by fear and anger and, likely, suppressed violence. And meanwhile, there will be no difference in the real and practical source of inequality for women, which is, in my opinion, economic and representative inequality. We will have undermined it all in a great, drowning, cacophony without clarity of focus.

Personally, I would not want to live in a society such as this. In what I perceive to be a very worrying time politically, socially, and environmentally, I derive strength from film and literature of the past and present – their excellence gives me hope for and in humanity. And, critically speaking, Polanski’s canon of work is an example of the finest filmmaking.

 

 

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Carnage

Two pairs of parents (Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz) have a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight with each other. But as their time together progresses, and coffee is replaced by whiskey, the veneer of amenity is removed, and the barbs and revelations come out.

Directed by Roman Polanski (Chinatown, Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, The Ghost Writer) this is a dark, intellectual and extremely funny film; this viewer was guffawing and snickering throughout. We don’t know exactly what happened between the two sons of the respective couples – it doesn’t really matter as a plot, because this is a showcase for good writing and fine actors to portray four characters in detail. But even as the main characters are well-developed, realistic and interesting, it’s a short film (79 min).

Polanski and his quartet of excellent actors should all be nominated for an Oscar.  This is a darkly comic film worth seeing.



The Ghost Writer

If you’re in the mood for nail-biting suspense, then THE GHOST WRITER is the movie for you.

A ghost-writer (Ewan McGregor, Trainspotting, Down with Love) is hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan, Matador, Die Another Day) and uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.

Director Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, Death and the Maiden) is back to form with this stylish, edge-of-your-seat political thriller, that plays extremely well whether you’re into politics or not. Polanski’s trademark themes, such as black humour, paranoia, the pervasiveness of evil, and a preoccupation with ‘foreignness’, are all showcased in this film that looks as chilly as its story.

With plot twists that will keep you guessing all the way to the conclusion, it’s a pleasure to see an intelligent thriller that’s extremely well acted.