18 July 2010

Polanski's Repulsion

Because I was so excited to hear about Roman Polanski once again escaping extradition the States for sodomizing a 13 year old and because it was on the shelf at the library, I just watched his 1965 film Repulsion.

My favorite thing about the film happened before it started. I put in the DVD and for whatever reason moved on to another important task (like bitterly refreshing the gamecast of the Tigers getting swept by the Indians). Some minutes later I noticed a faint clanging of bells and began investigating all open Firefox windows for an annoying pop up. Not finding anything that could be making the noise, I spent a while looking for an unknown alarm on my computer. I was wondering whether I had some kind of ear infection as I started the film, where the constant refrain of church bells is just one of the many signs that Carole (Catherine Deneuve) is losing her mind.

The plot is a straight line: Carole's sister leaves her alone in an apartment for two weeks with a decomposing rabbit and very bad things happen. The only reason to see this film is the not inconsequential pleasure of watching Deneuve wandering around in a nightie for 90 minutes (David Thomson has accurately compared her effect in this era to liquid cocaine). Polanski claimed that he just made Repulsion to get funding for the "more personal" Cul-de-sac, which is just like Coppola making The Godfather so he could direct Apocalypse Now, right?

Also, the somewhat sheepish essay in the Criterion booklet says that Repulsion is a big influence on the painter Luc Tuymans, which is kind of bewildering but neat.

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