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Added by johanlefourbe

on 18 Nov 2012 07:32

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A Complete review of Roman Polanski's work

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People who added this item 841  Average listal rating (530 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating 7.2 
1. Carnage (2011)


Cast : Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly

What was it about?
Two pairs of parents hold a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, though as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behavior throws the evening into chaos.

My two cents:
I thought the whole thing was just hilarious and it has been a while since I laughed so much at the movie theater. Roman Polanski always impressed me in the past but I didn't expect him to make such a funny dark comedy. Of course, the casting was perfect and they all gave some tremendous performances. I'm usually really critical about comedies because most of them go for the easy jokes but, here, it deals with recognizable human beings with a wide range of emotions. Here, there is no trick, just 4 actors stuck in a a room with their dialog. Fortunately, those dialogs were terrific and after 15 minutes, I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. In my opinion, it is a terrific movie and one of Polanski's most underrated.

My rating: 08/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 1205  Average listal rating (723 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating 7.3 
2. The Ghost Writer (2010)


Cast : Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall, Timothy Hutton, James Belushi, Eli Wallach

What was it about?
A ghostwriter hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.

My two cents:
The directing was quite amazing and the cast was also very good, especially Pierce Brosnan who shows he is definitely an actor we should reckon with. Above all, I thought the mood created created by Polanski was just great and the whole thing was pretty spellbinding to watch. Unfortunately, the ending was rather disappointing as it was a a little bit too far-fetched for my taste but we deal here with a movie which is more about the mood than the actual plot which was never meant to be really realistic. Eventually, this movie turned out to be another interesting addition to an already impressive career, the critics loved it, I thought it was pretty good too.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 706  Average listal rating (391 ratings) 6.4  IMDB Rating 6.9 
3. Oliver Twist (2005)


Cast : Ben Kingsley

What was it about?
An adaptation of the classic Dickens tale, where an orphan meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. From there, he joins a household of boys who are trained to steal for their master.

My two cents:
This is a very old story which has already been told so many times before and I have even already seen the musical version and even the cartoon version where the characters are portrayed by cats and dogs so, honestly, personally, I'm quite done with this tale. Still, like any Polanski flick, the directing was nothing short of amazing and the movie was really beautiful to look at and I also enjoyed the performances of the whole cast. However, they didn't add anything really new or interesting to it so the whole thing seemed to be a beautiful but pointless and, honestly, rather boring exercise. So, it is a rather minor effort but if you love this story, it is definitely worth a look.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 3562  Average listal rating (2115 ratings) 8.2  IMDB Rating 8.5 
4. The Pianist (2002)


Cast : Adrien Brody

What was it about?
A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.

My two cents:
At first, when I saw that this movie is the best Polanski has made, according to the Imdb ratings, I used to think that this movie was a little bit overatted but I have re-watched it recently and, indeed, I have to agree, it is a great movie, one of Polanski's best, and absolutely a great achievement. Indeed, for many years, he was toying with the idea about making a movie about this subject and even Spielberg asked him to direct 'Schindler's list' but, since he was himself a holocaust survivor, he felt really uncomfortable with this topic for many years which is quite understandable. Eventually, at 70 years old, when he felt that the time was right, he finally made his own movie about the holocaust, a true heartbreaking tale about another survivor, and he managed to make one of the best movies in this genre.

My rating: 09/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 1975  Average listal rating (1191 ratings) 6.4  IMDB Rating 6.7 
5. The Ninth Gate (1999)


Cast : Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner

What was it about?
A rare book dealer, while seeking out the last two copies of a demon text, gets drawn into a conspiracy with supernatural overtones.

My two cents:
It tends to be considered a minor effort, especially by Polanski's fans, and, I have to admit, compared to his numerous masterpieces, it is nothing really amazing, the ending was really disappointing for starters. Still, in spite of its obvious flaws, I found it rather enjoyable. Indeed, it is a intriguing tale and Johnny Depp, who was back then considered a box-office poison (difficult to believe, ain't it?), delivered a solid performance. Still, I was very young when I saw it for the first time and there is a good chance I would lower my rating if I watched it again nowadays.

My rating: 07/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 222  Average listal rating (123 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating 7.3 
6. Death and the Maiden (1994)


Cast : Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley

What was it about?
A political activist is convinced that her guest is a man who once tortured her for the government.

My two cents:
Basically, it is one of those many obscure underseen overlooked gems directed by Polanski. Even though the set-up is pretty basic, I thought it was really spellbinding to watch. As usual with Polanski, the border between right or wrong, good and evil, is really blurred and you have to make up your mind on your own about what you should make from all of this. Even though Sigourney Weaver will be always remembered as one of the most badass female characters, many viewers forget that she is actually a very good actress. She is terrific in this and so was Ben Kingsley.

My rating: 08/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 346  Average listal rating (201 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating 7.1 
7. Bitter Moon (1992)


Cast : Peter Coyote, Emmanuelle Seigner, Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas

What was it about?
British couple Fiona and Nigel Dobson are sailing to Istanbul en route to India. They encounter a beautiful French woman, and that night Nigel meets her while dancing alone in the ship's bar. Later he meets her crippled American husband Oscar, who tells him their story.

My two cents:
Even though it is not really one of the most highly regarded movies directed by Roman Polanski, it is actually my favorite one, as a matter of fact, it is one of my all time favorite movies. I mean, I have seen it when I was between 14 or 16 years old and it just blew me away. I had no idea you could make a love story which could be so twisted with such tormented characters. It is one of those few movies that really changed my persective about films in the sense that, after watching this movie, I understood that characters don't necessarily need to be good or evil, human characters are flawed and usually pretty messed up (though not always as messed up as in this movie, at least, I hope so...). Basically, the whole thing was just really fascinating to me and it represents a huge personal milestone in my movie watching history.

My rating: 09/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 442  Average listal rating (306 ratings) 6.5  IMDB Rating 6.9 
8. Frantic (1988)


Cast : Harrison Ford, Emmanuelle Seigner

What was it about?
In a hotel room in Paris, a doctor comes out of the shower and finds that his wife has disappeared. He soon finds himself caught up in a world of intrigue, espionage, gangsters, drugs and murder.

My two cents:
In my opinion, it was not bad all but still rather disappointing. Still, the set-up was just brilliant. Indeed, Harrison Ford gets to Paris with his wife, check into a hotel. He goes to the bathroom or something and suddenly, when he comes back his wife is gone! Up to that point and including the next 30 minutes, the whole thing was just spellbinding to watch and it was just awesome to see this average guy very well played by Harrison Ford losing his head because he has lost his wife without a shred of explanation. Unfortunately, at some point, they had to explain what was exactly going on and that this when the movie really became truly disappointing. It is quite obvious that Polanski didn't care much about the plot which was rather weak, especially the second part, and cared more about the mood which was pretty cool. The best thing with this movie is that, even though the whole thing is rather weak, there is still something spellbinding about it and it is a great tribute to the skills of Mr Polanski.

My rating: 06/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 120  Average listal rating (76 ratings) 5.8  IMDB Rating 6.1 
9. Pirates (1986)


Cast : Walter Matthau

What was it about?
Captain Red runs a hardy pirate ship with the able assistance of Frog, a dashing young French sailor. One day Capt. Red is captured and taken aboard a Spanish galleon, but thanks to his inventiveness, he raises the crew to mutiny, takes over the ship, and kidnaps the niece of the governor of Maracaibo. The question is, can he keep this pace up?

My two cents:
After seven long years, Roman Polanski finally managed to make another movie and I wonder why it took him so long. Anyway, even though it is probably the least popular movie directed by Polanski, and even though it was a huge flop when it was released, I thought it was a pretty cool flick. Ok, I have to admit, I was just a kid when I saw it, it was probably a couple of decades ago and I might lower my rating if I rewatch it but I still have some fond memories of this movie.

My rating: 07/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 202  Average listal rating (113 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating 7.3 
10. Tess (1979)


Cast : Nastassja Kinski

What was it about?
A young strong-willed peasant girl, becomes the affection of two men, in the end tragically falling into the arms of one.

My two cents:
It was Polanski's first film since his arrest for rape in 1977 and it is actually rather surprising that he managed to make another movie so soon after such a scandal. Anyway, it was back then the most expensive movie made in France and it proved to be a financial success and was well received by both critics and the public. Polanski even won the César Awards for Best Picture and Best Director and the movie was even nominated for the Best picture Academy Award. Personally, I have to admit, I didn't really like this flick though. I mean, it was well made, that's for sure, but I never really cared about the main character or what she was going through. Still, it is worth a look though and I will probably rewatch it at some point.

My rating: 06/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 520  Average listal rating (285 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 7.8 
11. The Tenant (1976)


Cast : Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Josiane Balasko, Michel Blanc, Gérard Jugnot, Shelley Winters

What was it about?
A quiet and inconspicuous man called Trelkovsky rents an apartment in France where the previous tenant committed suicide, and begins to suspect his landlord and neighbors are trying to subtly change him into the last tenant so that he too will kill himself.

My two cents:
After hearing so much good things about this flick, I had some rather high expectations. However, I must admit, I was rather underwhelmed by the whole thing. I mean, it was pretty good but nothing really mind-blowing in my opinion. I don't know, I enjoyed the mood and the directing but I never really cared about the characters or what they were going through. Still, it was pretty good and a rewatch might change my rating.

My rating: 07/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 1838  Average listal rating (1085 ratings) 8.1  IMDB Rating 8.3 
12. Chinatown (1974)


Cast : Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Diane Ladd, Roman Polanski

What was it about?
A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water.

My two cents:
It is probably Polanski's most famous movie and, personally, I think it completely deserves its reputation. Indeed, it is a great mix between a traditional neo-noir feature and Polanski's dark and twisted directing style. The plot tends to be a little bit murky but it's really inherent to genre and I really enjoyed the fact that none of the characters were really good as they all seem to be pretty much messed up, something recurrent in Polanski's work. This movie is also one of the many classics starring Jack Nicholson and he was just great in this. Eventually, it would be the last picture Polanski made in the US. Back then, he was one of the most successful and highly regarded movie directors in the world.

My rating: 08/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 65  Average listal rating (28 ratings) 6.1  IMDB Rating 5.9 
13. What? (1972)


Cast : Marcello Mastroianni, Roman Polanski

What was it about?
A young American woman (Sydne Rome) traveling through Italy finds herself in a strange Mediterranean villa where nothing seems right. Her visit becomes an absurd, decadent, oversexed version of "Alice in Wonderland", with Marcello Mastroianni as the maddest of mad hatters and Roman Polanski a kinky March hare.

My two cents:
After making movies in Poland, France, England and the USA, Polanski eventually made this one in Italy. It was the last movie he made that I had to see and it took me many years to finally get my hands on it. So, obviously, it is one of his more obscure movies and it was a flop when it was released but I can't say it was surprising. Indeed, it is a very dark and twisted comedy and it is pretty obvious the mainstream audience wouldn't care for something like this. Honestly, even though I actually liked it, I must admit it was a really chaotic and also a really misogynist movie. Indeed, the main character is a cute but completely clueless American girl who spends the whole movie half naked (first the top and then the bottom). The rest of the movie is basically a succession of encounters with some weird characters and I'm afraid the whole thing didn't make much sense but, somehow, I still enjoyed it.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 177  Average listal rating (107 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating 7.4 
14. Macbeth (1971)


What was it about?
A ruthlessly ambitious Scottish lord siezes the throne with the help of his scheming wife and a trio of witches.

My two cents:
It is again of his more obscures movies and it was barely seen when it was released. As a matter of fact, it was made under some rather distressful circumstances. Indeed, Roman Polanski's wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson three years before making this film. It is believed that due to this traumatic event, Polanski developed the story to be a more violent representation of Shakespeare's play. Eventually, it was a huge flop but I still found it quite enjoyable. Indeed, those Shakespeare adaptations can be rather dull but this one, thanks to Polanski's gory vision, became something quite unique and I think it is a really interesting flick.

My rating: 07/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 2151  Average listal rating (1296 ratings) 7.8  IMDB Rating
15. Rosemary's Baby (1968)


Cast : Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes

What was it about?
A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life.

My two cents:
It is yet another materspiece directed by Polanski, it was a success when it was released and I think it definitely deserves its reputation. Indeed, I'm a huge fan of this flick and it is absolutely one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I mean, the whole thing is so original, really unsettling and completely spellbinding from the beginning until the end. It was Polanski's first movie in America and he became right away a major director to reckon there as well. Eventually, the drama in is own private life would prevent him to have an even bigger impact on American cinema. Anyway, fortunately, he still managed to make this timeless classic.

My rating: 09/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 417  Average listal rating (254 ratings) 7.2  IMDB Rating 7.3 
16. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)


Cast : Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate

What was it about?
A noted professor and his dim-witted apprentice fall prey to their inquiring vampires, while on the trail of the ominous damsel in distress.

My two cents:
It is another one of his movies which I haven't seen for many years but I definitely have some fonds memories about this one. It is the closest thing to a comedy that Polanski will make and even though I'm usually critical about comedies, I really enjoyed this one. Indeed, even though it is supposed to be funny, it goes beyond that since the whole thing is quite gorgeous to look at. Furthermore, Polanski has definitely a rather particular sense of humor and the whole thing still remained rather gloomy which was something positive, at least, that's my opinion. It is considered by many as one of the best vampire movies ever made and I definitely share this opinion.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 232  Average listal rating (124 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating 7.2 
17. Cul-De-Sac (1966)


Cast : Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac, Jacqueline Bisset

What was it about?
A wounded criminal and his dying partner take refuge at a beachfront castle. The owners of the castle, a meek Englishman and his willful French wife, are initially the unwilling hosts to the criminals. Quickly, however, the relationships between the criminal, the wife, and the Englishman begin to shift in humorous and bizarre fashion.

My two cents:
Just a year after making his first masterpiece starring Catherine Deneuve, Roman Polanski made this much obscure flick starring Deneuve's elder sister, Françoise Dorléac. You have probably never heard of her but she was actually also a very talented actress who tragically died a year after this movie was released in a car accident. Anyway, this movie is one of the weirdest made by Polanski and it was not really oriented towards the mainstream audience, that's for sure. There is not much of a plot and the whole thing is rather gloomy and unsettling but thanks to Polanski's directing, it is still quite spellbinding to watch, at least, that's my humble opinion.

My rating: 07/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 857  Average listal rating (450 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating 7.8 
18. Repulsion (1965)


Cast : Catherine Deneuve

What was it about?
Left alone when her sister goes on vacation, a young beauty finds herself besieged on all sides by the demons of her past.

My two cents:
After making only one full length feature in Poland, Roman Polanski took off right away to start an international career. His first stop would be in England and, there, he made his first genuine masterpiece. Indeed, if his directing debut was pretty impressive, this sophomore effort was just quite mind-blowing. Basically, there is no plot whatsoever, but you dive into the nightmarish world of the ultimate Ice Queen, Madame Catherine Deneuve. The juxtaposition of her incredible natural beauty with her obvious mental meltdown is just one of a kind and one of the most spellbinding depiction of madness you'll ever see on the silver screen.

My rating: 08/10
johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 323  Average listal rating (190 ratings) 7.7  IMDB Rating 7.6 
19. The Knife in the Water (1962)


What was it about?
On their way to a sailing trip, an aging husband and wife invite along an emphatic young hitchhiker out of sheer patronization.

My two cents:
Roman Polanski was not even 30 years old when he directed his first feature-length film and it would be eventually the only film he ever made in his native Poland. It is actually quite interesting to see that this movie already displayed many of his trademarks that we will witness in his following masterpieces. Indeed, even though the story was rather generic, the tone was dark, unsettling and filled with sexual tension. As usual with Polanski, it gives a rather pessimistic view of men in general, displaying our darkest corners, something recurring in his work. Even though it is a directing début, Polanski was back then already a cinematic master and the whole thing is quite spellbinding to watch.

My rating: 07/10

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johanlefourbe's rating:

People who added this item 38  Average listal rating (33 ratings) 6.6  IMDB Rating 6.9 
20. Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958)


Cast : Roman Polanski

What was it about?
Two men come up from the beach carrying a large wardrobe between them. They come up into the town but not only find that accommodation is difficult to come by with their wooden travelling companion but also that both women and men shun or mistreat them.

My two cents:
I came accross this short feature here on Listal and I thought it was a nice bonus to this list. Apparently, it was the first Roman Polanski film to be screened publicly. I thought it was not bad at all. It starts out as a rather surreal comedy but, suddenly, it became rather bleak and violent, something that only a director like Polanski could do. To be honest, I thought it was a little bit too uneven and random for my taste but it is still definitely worth a look, especially if you are interested in Polanski's work.

My rating: 06/10
johanlefourbe's rating:


 

The 10th list in this serie wil focus on Roman Polanski. He is one of the greatest directors, probably my favorite director alive, and I have recently managed to watch all his movies so it was definitely time to make one of this. Enjoy!

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A Complete review of various directors' work (33 lists)
list by johanlefourbe
Published 2 years, 2 months ago 15 comments



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Comments

Posted: 1 year, 9 months ago at Dec 9 9:06
Brilliant as usual. I agree with you on Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby. Classics, both. I personally enjoyed The Tenant and its pace, but to each his own.

Also, thank you for introducing me to Two Men & A Wardrobe. I just found it on YouTube, looks pretty interesting.
Posted: 1 year, 9 months ago at Dec 11 17:32
Now I wanna see The Ghost Writer (Pierce Brosnan good?! Wow, worth checking) :)
Posted: 1 year, 9 months ago at Dec 11 19:55
the ghost writer is amazing! one of my favourite movies :)
Posted: 1 year, 9 months ago at Dec 12 8:04
Great work! You always seem to have at least one movie on your lists that I would normally not watch, but your comments make me give them a try. Thanks for that!

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