14 August 2010

the ghost writer

[click image]


Roman Polanski makes good movies. I remember sitting in the theater watching Chinatown. I might watch it today and think it schmaltzy, I don't know, maybe not, because it was SO good, but maybe so, because I know the punchline and it's been many, many years, but at the time it was riveting. I went crazier for Jack Nicholson, and the one scene where Polanski plays the guy who cuts his nose, was the one part I thought was even MORE riveting than the rest.

I didn't like The Pianist at all. I thought it was an incredibly good movie, but in an extremely unlikeable way. The acting was first rate. It was a goddam Holocaust movie when I was already sick to death of them. But the protagonist was a thoroughly deplorable creep, and I did not get over that. I think that's actually what Polanski meant to convey. I think almost everyone missed that point. Kind of like everybody missed the Coen Brothers' apology for all the fucking Holocaust movies we've been made to endure, A Serious Man, that got nominated for Best Picture last year. They were saying they were sorry for this sick obsession that's ruining the world. I think Polanski was saying the same thing, only more vividly. In a much more vital way.

He was saying that many of the survivors were despicable invertebrates whose very pusillanimity brought horrible things to the fore. But I don't think the public caught that. I think their hearts filled with compassion for the victims and could forgive any of them anything on that account. I can't. Norman Finkelstein's mother couldn't either... bless her heart. And I think Roman Polanski can't either.

So I'm glad I saw it, but I hated it.

Tonight I watched The Ghost Writer. I should maybe make a ratings system where I rate a movie by how quickly I want to shrink the screen and play solitaire while "watching" the movie. Once in this movie it crossed my mind. Right before I stopped wanting to smoke and before I let my carefully warmed glass of brandy go cold. It was a good movie. It very obviously was based on Tony Blair, and as obviously heavily borrowed from the fabulous, unforgettable, impeccable and fictional Francis Urquhart in Michael Dobbs' novels and BBC miniseries of twenty years ago, and making the quintessential statement about the CIA, all at once. I don't know if this was in the novel and showed up in the movie too or if Polanski brought that to it, but he brought even more. He brought you something completely engaging and instructive, without any tricks, playing it straight, but STILL keeping you from being completely the viewer, the analyst, knowing what was coming like you know G comes after D, E and F.

You know exactly who to suspect. You know perfectly well. And you do because you know, but you stop because Polanski puts you SO far into the protagonist's POV it is almost impossible to escape his grip, so then when it turns out how it turns out, you are thinking, Damn, I knew it, but he made me forget to know it! How did he DO that? Polanski always trusts you to have an IQ, but also keeps the attention of the clueless. He bridges that divide, evidently not caring at all whether you get what you are supposed to get from what he's put forth. I can't help but love that in a man. It harks up my Einstein envy, my desire for his, apparently, never in his life giving a hoot whether you followed him or not.

I do not begrudge the greatness, or envy it. I envy the imperviousness to the censure, the relentless inter-relational wind, from the world and from one's intimates, the horrific force in the hollow air to conform somehow to that which defies in all ways genuine participation. I know and know of men who were thus unencumbered from toddlerhood.

So much MORE can be accomplished that way. There's so much more freedom in it. I think this single thing is what I admire and envy the most in men. I love their clarity. It feels like the water of the pristine mountain stream on my befugued spirit. But it has its shortcomings, its failings and so it is only something I feel I need like a drink of water, but the ability to be shed of the consensus to say and do important things that has come naturally to many great men, from infancy, is something I rue having lacked as a prototypically loving and innocent little girl. I revile the wasted decades.

I had all the thoughts, the great insights, but they were a secret world, things shoved almost into subconsciousness for far, far too long by my female wish to engage with the world, love it, please it, give it everything I had. I know there are pitfalls even in this enviable self-possession, wondered from a very young age why so insanely many brilliant men in history died too soon, killed themselves with suicide or suicidal imbibing of booze or drugs or both, or were murdered or marginalized to death, all the awful things that have happened to brilliant, brilliant souls throughout history. I have had all those questions answered, but I have not shed the craving for that natural attribute exhibited by truly exceptional men.

Nope. I do not approve of Polanski's requited urges to have very young things, and I do not feel he has been entitled to them, but, Jesus, the man makes very, very good movies.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.