||[Jan. 30th, 2018|10:18 am]
No, I don't understand why it's still OK to work with Roman Polanski but not with Woody Allen. There's no doubt about Polanski being a child rapist, but Allen- well- I don't think Dylan Farrow is lying but one can't be wholly sure. Another thing: a lot of women have accused Polanski of sexual abuse- and weight of evidence counts- whereas with Allen there's only the one case to consider. It can't be a question of their relative standing as artists because I'd say Allen was the more interesting and original of the two. The known abuser gets a free pass and the one who is under suspicion doesn't: it's strange. But perhaps it's simply a matter of fashion. Polanski has never ceased to be cool (perhaps its to do with being a survivor of both the holocaust and the Manson murders) while Woody- having been cool for decades- is suddenly so last year- and no-one who is a la mode can be seen to be wearing his colours. It's not very flattering to humanity to think that public morality is largely a matter of fashion but that's how it seems to be. |
Not that I'm a huge fan of Woody's. I don't think I've seen a movie of his that didn't send me away a little disappointed. I think he benefited- as many artists in many fields did- from coming out of New York at a time when New York was the most cosmopolitan city in the most powerful country in the world. His reputation is inflated by cultural cringe- as is Bernstein's and Mailer's and Pollock's and this could be a very long sentence if I listed them all.
Incidentally I respect Diane Keaton for standing by him. They've been friends and colleagues for half a century. It's called loyalty.
There remains the work. I stopped watching Polanski movies- and Allen movies- a while back- not for reasons of morality but because I lost interest. I avoid them for the same reason I avoid anything with the (wholly admirable) Ron Howard's name attached. In the end art survives because it's good and not because its makers are. I'm not sure future generations will find much to engage them in such quintessentially late-20th century works as Annie Hall and Stardust Memories but if they do good luck to them.
I've always thought Allen was a creepazoid, and I think it's more than just Dylan Farrow. I think I remember the Hemingway girl saying that he came on to her while they were filming whatever movie that was (Manhattan?). I can't stand his whiny face. (Edited to add: and I don't like Roman Polanski, either, although given that his wife was brutally murdered by the Manson Clan I suppose a case could be made for PTSD twisting his values.)
Edited at 2018-01-30 02:40 pm (UTC)
There's a lot of circumstantial evidence around the Farrow case that inclines me to believe in his guilt.
I watched a lot of Polanski's early (pre-Manson) movies because I was a cinephile and he was supposed to be one of the masters but they always left me feeling a little sick; he seemed drawn to negativity and moral ugliness. He doesn't deny that he likes very young girls- and- in classic paedophile style- can't see there's anything wrong with it. I don't know where the kink comes from but I don't think it was caused by the murders.
I can't even remember what most of his movies were -- the only one I know he directed is The Ninth Gate, which I watched because the plot depends on the collation of a medieval / early modern book (ms or incunable, I now forget which, but the illustrations were woodcuts, or appeared to be). I noted his name in the credits, but later.
Well, yes. There are directors who deserve to be called auteurs- who put a personal stamp on all their films- Hitchcock for example or Kubrick- but Polanski has never struck me as being one of them. He has made a few very well-regarded films- Chinatown and The Pianist for example (neither of which I have seen)- and a lot of forgettable ones. Putting everything else to one side I'd place him in the middle rank- neither hack nor genius- capable of rising to the occasion when given outstanding material to work with.
I caught the ending of The Ninth Gate on TV once- and remember thinking "this really isn't very good."
I:ve been wondering recently whether, had Polanski been a renowned baker rather than a film director, people even in the :70s would have been quite so forgiving. "He may be a child abuser, but his pain au chocolat are to die for so it would be wrong to arrest him," said no one ever.
Polanski's immunity does seem to be predicated on his greatness as an artist- something I've never bought into. I've seen quite a few of his movies and none of them has impressed me that much.
Even if he were the greatest artist in the world, the idea that this would lessen rather than increase his responsibility to act morally seems arse about face.
But human beings do tend to think this way. Being a great poet may well have saved Ezra Pound from the gallows.