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October 06, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-06

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - 5

Unconscionable genius

couple weeks ago in my
Shakespeare and Film
class, we had Screen Arts
& Cultures Prof.
Jim Burnstein
guest lecture on
Roman Polan-
ski's adaptation Y
of "Macbeth"
(1971). Even a
though it's one
of Polanski's ANDREW
lesser known LAPN
works, Burn-
stein praised the film until we
were all convinced of its greatness.
A key visual motif of the movie
is the recurring image of a hang-
man's noose - the circular instru-
ment of death that ensnares the
doomed Macbeth's fate from the
very start and only tightens the
more he sinks into the conse-
quences of his own deplorable acts.
If only Polanski could have
followed the noose of his own
life as easily as he had followed
Macbeth's. Last Saturday, only a
few days after my class, the famed
director was arrested in Switzer-
land for his rape of a13-year old
girl in Los Angeles. Polanski com-
mitted the crime in 1977, and after
his media frenzy of a trial resulted
in his conviction, he fled to Europe
before he could be sentenced. And
now, even though he has tried all
his life to escape it, his deplorable
act is once again at the center of the
public eye.
Polanski, who has also helmed
"Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby"
and "The Pianist," was arrested
just before he was supposed to
receivea lifetime achievement
award for his filmmaking. ouch.
Many bloggers and other talking
heads are now calling for Polans-
ki's head, sayingthat he never fully
received due punishment for his
crime. And there are others, most-
ly in the filmmaking industry, who
are on Polanski's side, arguing that
it has been too longsince the deed
and that his artistic contributions
to society are too valuable for him
to be locked away. They've even
signed "Free Polanski" petitions.
The whole legal debacle is

ridiculot
have eve
into a m
time you
clarifica
out the r
unbiasec
Polanski
which dE
nal trial
attentio
cared lit
defenda
victim h
publicly
And y
mation o
witnesse
edy than
Hollywo
survivor
in a gasc
wife Sha
murdere
"Macbet
on thee'
humanit
No:
fo
directed
Does]
his act?(
shed som
nature o
lutely. H
deviant;
pushedd
because
he has e)
ness is p
to make
paved th
crime; as
would sa
fair."
Let's i
celebriti
with tern
since Pol
think ab
"J"), and
tion of he
artistic i
themsel

usly confusing, and it may films have enormous value, wheth-
n been resolved (or sunk er as heady psychological trips or
uch deeper mess) by the as deep emotional experiences. I
iread this. If you want was enthralled by "Chinatown"
tion, it would help to seek and almost moved to tears by "The
evealing (but not entirely Pianist." But when you weigh their
d) documentary "Roman value against the harm that their
: Wanted and Desired," maker caused to just this one girl,
etails how Polanski's origi- suddenly things become less clear.
was complicated by an Hell, the first film Polanski
n-mongering judge who made in France after escaping his
tle for the victim or the trial was "Tess" (1979), an adapta-
nt. It also shows how the tion of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of
erself, Samantha Geimer, the d'Urbervilles," a novel about
forgave Polanski in 1997. a young girl who has shunned by
ou can also find infor- her family after being raped and
)n how Polanski has impregnated by an older man.
d firsthand more trag- He also reportedly had an affair
perhaps anyone else in with the lead actress, Nastassja
'od. He is a Holocaust Kinski, that began when she was
r whose mother was killed 15 (perfectly legal in France). Call
chamber. And in 1969, his it deplorable if you want, butthe
iron Tate was brutally movie won three Oscars and gar-
d by the Manson family. nered plenty of critical praise.
:h," with its ruminations "No one does it to you like
vil that pervades all of Roman Polanski," intones the
:y, was the first film he deep, booming narrator of a '70s-
era trailer for one of his films. No
kidding.
more awards The scandal has almost com-
pletely whitewashed Polanski's
r Polanski. filmmaking career. His artistic
talent will always be linked with
his crime. The man is 76 years old
following the murder. now, with another wife and two
Polanski's past excuse children in France, and if some
Certainly not. Does it people in the judicial system have
ne essential light onto the their way, he could go to prison for
f his character? Abso- the rest of his life.
e's a disturbed, sexually It probably won't happen,
person who was probably because Polanski is still a figure
down these dark pathways with lots of clout, and people
of the personal tragedies like him tend not to serve life
xperienced. This dark- sentences. But if it does happen,
robably what allows him perhaps it's time for him to accept
such great art, but it also this final fate. The man is almost
e way for his horrible at the end of his rope. He's already
s the witches in "Macbeth" had the luxury of decades to make
y, "Fair is foul and foul is his mark in the filmmaking world;
if he doesn't give in now, he will be
gnore for now the other hounded and haunted for the rest
es who've gotten away of his life anyway.
rible crimes in the years Polanski's noose is tightening,
lanski's exile (try not to and just like Macbeth, he must fol-
out the letters "O" and low it to the end.

The aftermath of the U.S. version of 'The Office.'

Inventive humor

Ricky Gervais
proves himself in a
new divine comedy
By SHERI JANKELOVITZ
Daily Arts Writer
If there's one thing "The Inven-

tion of Lying"
proves, it's that
Ricky Gervais
has almost per-
fedt comedic
timing. There's
no reason he
shouldn't join
the esteemed
rank of bril-
liance already

The Invention
of Lying
At Quality16
and Showcase
Warner Bros.

kids with snub noses."
As the title suggests, Mark soon
discovers he is capable of speaking
falsehoods, and people will actu-
ally believe him. In a world where
people believe anything anyone
says (after all, why wouldn't they?),
Mark can essentially get away with
whatever he wants. At first he uses
this powerselfishly: getting money,
taking revenge on his friends at
work and the like. But soon, Mark
starts to use this ability to help oth-
ers - like when he tells his dying
mother that after death she will
live in an eternally blissful state in
which "everyone gets mansions."
Mark has just invented heaven.
Mark's words on the after-
life touch a chord in everyone,
and soon followers are gathered
outside of his apartment to hear
what else Mark has to say about
what happens after you die and
"the man in the sky." There are
shades of "Monty Python's Life of
Brian" here, and the film's funni-
est moments arise from a scene in
which Mark spends hours fielding
questions from the crowd about
the exact details of the afterlife and
how to get a mansion. For example:
There is no hairstyle that will keep
you out of heaven.
At this point, the movie takes a
turn from lighthearted comedy to
theological commentary. The film
makes some not-so-subtle jabs

at religion, portraying Mark as a
Jesus-type misleading the naive
masses into believing they need to
do good in order to live in a man-
sion and eat ice cream all the time
after they die. Shortly thereafter
Mark is being hailed as a prophet
- and making millions of dollars
off of it.
So, is the film saying religion is
a lie? Well, it does offer a different
view of the way many approach
religion, which is sure to be a
tough pill to swallow. But the light-
hearted tone of the film makes it
hard to judge whether it actually
wants to be taken seriously. Some
could argue that the joke is clearly
on religion - a fact the previews
try to hide. It is reminiscent of
Kevin Smith's work in "Dogma,"
which had many up in arms over
its casual abuse of religious ideas.
Here, though, it appears that Ger-
vais wishes us to laugh, rather than
to think too deeply into what he is
saying, and therefore, the joke may
be on us if we take it as gospel.
Regardless, for a comedy to
work even with such a heavy mes-
sage is impressive. Gervais has
a way of making the audience
laugh by presenting himself as the
everyman who just happens to get
the girl. He charms us completely,
we feel for him and we laugh with
him, too - even if we don't always
agree with him.

just consider the ques-
ow valuable the director's
nput is to our society. By
ves, most of Polanski's

Lapin is about to shout "Macbeth"
in a crowded movie theater. Stop
him at alapin@umich.edu.

i a , , '

occupied by Jim Carrey and
Steve Carell (who's only playing
an American version of Gervais's
original character on "The Office,"
anyway). Atthe very leasthe should
host an awards show or two.
In "Invention," Gervais plays
Mark Bellison, a portly loser with
no financial or romantic pros-
pects to speak of. Bellison lives in
a world where no one has ever lied.
Accordingly, people continually
tell him to his face just how worth-
less he is. This includes his crush
(Jennifer Garner, "Juno"), who
clearly likes him but can't stand to
be with a man who will father "fat
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