Polanski’s Fall and Fall

Self reading an exceedingly interesting article on the life of Roman Polanski in the 14 December 2009 issue of  The New Yorker.

He was a Polish Jew, one of the few to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto.  His mother, four months pregnant, was taken to Auschwitz and died there.  Polanski’s father miraculously survived.

Self remembers reading about the horrible murders of his wife, Sharon Tate, and their houseguests.  In fact, self still remembers reading, in Manila, the Newsweek article that traced where the individual victims had been killed.  “Sharon’s death is the only watershed in my life that really matters,” Polanski is quoted as saying.  “Afterward, whenever conscious of enjoying myself, I felt guilty.”

The article goes on to say that “after months of wandering, and much skiing, and eventually running out of money, Polanski directed a movie version of Macbeth, which was a critical and commercial debacle.”

Then he did Chinatown and resurrected his career.

Then he met fifteen-year-old Nastassja Kinski in Munich and began a relationship with her.

Then he did an assignment for Vogue Hommes to feature “adolescent girls …  as they really were these days:  sexy, pert, and thoroughly human.”

Then he met fifteen-year-old Samantha Gailey and her mother, who told Polanski that Samantha was 13, in order to perk his interest.  Polanski described Samantha to a friend as “a good-looking girl but nothing sensational.”  He did agree to a photo shoot, and the girl wore clothes picked out by her own mother.  At this point in the narrative, self begins to get a very queasy feeling —  about the mother!

After the deed was done, and Polanski was driving Samantha home to her mother, the girl began, of all things, reciting parts of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which she had to study for school.  Polanski writes in his autobiography:  “I tried not to wince when she started spouting Shakespeare in a strong Valley accent.”


And guess who comes to arrest Polanski:  Lieutenant Philip Vanatter  —  yes, that same Vanatter who figured so prominently in the O. J. Simpson trials!  Talk about synchronicity!

Self, reading this long article about Polanski’s life and rise and fall, thinks Polanski is cursed.  His current lawyer, the only lawyer he has ever had, turns “eighty this year, and” he tells the New Yorker writer:  “I’ve been retired for ten years.”

Polanski edited “The Ghost Writer” (self’s favorite movie so far this year) while in jail in Switzerland and while he was under house arrest.  No matter what one may think of Polanski himself, in the movie, his artistry is beyond reproach.  And he was able to resurrect the acting chops of three people:  Ewan McGregor (who’d gotten lost in foolish movies like “Angels and Demons”), Pierce Brosnan (so under-rated) and Olivia Williams (also so under-rated).

He couldn’t shoot in the States, so he made the north German coast stand in for Martha’s Vineyard in winter.

What a mess he’s made of his personal life.  But if there is anything admirable about Polanski, it is his almost dogged capacity to endure.

Stay tuned.

End of (Third March 2010) Weekend Status Report

  • Self watched the Rahm Emanuel interview on 60 Minutes and, no, self can’t understand why certain Gawker.com tipsters described him as “hot.”  Self did have occasion to have the following conversation with hubby:  “Doesn’t he look a bit like your brother?”  Hubby:  “No.”  Self:  “I mean, about the eyes?  Look at the eyes!”  Hubby:  “No.”  At which point, self thought it wise to let the matter drop.
  • Self learned that the Health Bill passed. The announcement came about 10 minutes ago.  What was really surprising to self was, she didn’t know Congress worked this late on Sundays.
  • Self did not do much of anything, unless you call digging three very big holes in three different places around her yard “something.”  Each time self would think she was finally getting the hole to the size she wanted, she’d end up being stymied by an awfully big tree root.  Accch, her poor back!
  • Self went to the Mountain View Farmers Market!  She actually got there before 10 and found lots of parking.  She bought three bergenia cordifolia for $4 each (She paid $10 at Wegman’s for about the same size of bergenia), and also:  a three-pack of strawberries; some humongous celery; a gallon of apple cider; and six cookies.
  • She and hubby watched a very dark Swedish movie (showing at the Guild in Menlo Park), “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” About which self can only say, “If you thought The Hurt Locker was dark . . . Believe me, you don’t know dark until you’ve seen The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!”  Hubby professed to like it, and self suspects that the reason had something to do with the actress who played Lisbeth Salander, who had something of the androgynous, tiny-breasted “boy” thing going.  Also, she had all those rings in her nose and rimming her ears.  When a sleazy man asks Lisbeth how she manages to have sex (He meant, with all those rings on her face), self was on the point of asking the same thing!
  • Self finished reading her second Haruki Murakami collection, After the Quake, which she liked (except for the story with the talking frog — that was entirely too precious)
  • Let’s see, what else? She cooked picadillo for dinner and served it with brussels sprouts. She had three servings of Edward’s frozen chocolate pie. She found a blank notebook for $9.99 from World Market in downtown RWC. She had a beautiful day. She had a beautiful day. She had a beautiful day.

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