Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Directors Project: #24 - Roman Polanski

Scene from Cinema Paradiso
With the many lists and essays written on the subject of film, there has been one thing that The Oscar Buzz has tried to understand: Who is my favorite of the film world? For 10 weeks this summer, I will be exploring this with a countdown of the Top 50 names based on a numerical ranking of ratings from various sources, the following is a list of directors who rank above everyone else. With occasional upsets, this is intended as both a discussion opener as well as a better understanding of me as a film critic and fan. Please enjoy and leave any comments you have regarding the entry's selection.


Years Active: 1953-present

Films as Director: 23

Oscar Wins: 1 (Best Director - The Pianist)

Who: It is a reputation plagued with personal problems. After losing both of his parents during World War II, there has been a certain tone of grief and brooding in the work of Polanski. It has lead to some of the darkest, most mature films to come out during his career. Ranging from genres such as film noir to horror and period pieces, he has explored the psychological impacts of man. With a fascinating attention to detail and an often vitriolic approach to humor, he is a unique voice that continues to influence and make films that while not nearly as successful as his earlier days, continue to be consistently engaging and reflect his deepest desires. While he faces some unfortunate legal issues following his initial rise to success, he has overcome a lot and like many directors before and after him, have effectively used movies to ventilate his torments in exquisite art.

Scene from Repulsion
-- Repulsion (1965) --

Flickchart Ranking: #38 (900 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 970 points

-- Chinatown (1974) --

Flickchart Ranking: #166 (750 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 820 points

-- Knife in the Water (1962) --

Flickchart Ranking: #468 (450 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 510 points

-- The Pianist (2002) --

Flickchart Ranking: #501 (450 points)
IMDb Rating: 4/10 (40 points)
Perks: None
Total: 490 points

-- Rosemary's Baby (1968) --

Flickchart Ranking: #638 (400 points)
IMDb Rating: 5/10 (50 points)
Perks: None
Total: 450 points

-- Carnage (2011) --

Flickchart Ranking: #883 (150 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 210 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 3450 points

Scene from Chinatown
One of the strange things about Polanski is that while I admire the director, it isn't quite for all of the same reasons as everyone else. I don't quite get the appeal of Rosemary's Baby, as I feel like it is subpar Repulsion. Even then, he is really great at capturing tension and disappointment in film in ways akin to Fritz Lang. There' s so much going on in his films that go beyond style and great performances. There's a tone and melancholy that can either be seen as horror or dramatic depending on your stance. He doesn't really go soft with any of his films, and it is his biggest triumph and unfortunate failure. Even then, the films in which he excels makes him the maestro that he continues to be.

UP NEXT: A genre-hopping director who finds the beauty in repulsive imagery and makes ambitiously original and kinetic films.

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