The Exorcist is another movie that I find questionable. It has not been officially placed on the cancel culture short list and I can't understand why. It's really the worst of the bunch. Not that I think anything, really, should be cancelled. Times change. Mores change. What is acceptable at any given time changes over time. It's called the pendulum. I admire The Exorcist mostly as a piece of filmmaking. It is a masterpiece of cinema. One of the most fully realized mise en scenes ever captured on film. However, it's also about ninety minutes of watching a little girl get tortured. And let's face it, the infamous crucifix sequence is a violent rape scene. I can't watch that scene. Yes, the head spinning dummy is kind of cheezy (and some of the clothing dated) nearly fifty years later but the film is so expertly, violently and convincingly realized I feel like I'm watching an actual sexual attack. It crosses a line. Part of why the movie is so affecting is because Linda Blair is actually going through an ordeal in front of the camera nearly as traumatizing as the possession and exorcism in the script. "She doesn't remember any of it..." Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), Regan's mother, says at the end of the movie. That's great for Regan; but Linda Blair doesn't get to forget. If anyone deserves a retroactive apology for the way they were treated on a movie set, it's Linda Blair. Burstyn too. They both suffered back injuries during production. Guns were being fired over people's heads. Linda was trapped in a refrigerator car in nothing but a nightgown for weeks. I think both women should be given honorary Oscars for their work in this. They were both nominated but didn't win that year. And they were clearly the best performances. Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class? Nobody remembers that. Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon? That wasn't acting. That was being a brat. Linda is good even when she's doing the demonic voice before it was dubbed by Mercedes McCambridge. It's on Youtube. But Friedkin, in a way, had to pay the devil his due. He never made a very good movie after The Exorcist. So I guess that's his comeuppance.
So, let's talk about Roman Polanski. Again, another famous case. He raped a thirteen year-old girl. The late 70's again. He did it. He was caught. He was in the process of being prosecuted. He fled the United States to avoid the consequences of his actions. Ironically, those consequences would've probably amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist due to his fame and wealth. But he was a coward. He really was the little weasel he resembled. Still is. I have no respect for Mr. Polanski. So can I separate this artist from his art? Well, it may be rationalizing; but Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown were both made before his crimes; so yes, I can still watch them without wondering what crimes he was committing while making them. And again, after making Chinatown he never did anything that approached the grandeur of that movie. I have not sought out anything he's made after that. I have not seen The Pianist, nor do I plan to. He won the best director Oscar in 2003. How the fuck did that happen? I think he needs to come back to the states and answer for what he did. If anyone needs to make some retroactive apologies and reparations; it's Roman Polanski.
Interiors, the most sedate movie out of all of them, includes a rape scene. Or rather, an attempted rape scene. Why?
I can't really separate the art from the artist in this case. He is so often a part of it, literally, on the screen. But then, he's always been kinda creepy. It's a shame though, personally. My older brother and I never had much in common; but we both loved comedy and Woody Allen. Now that pleasant memory is tarnished. There's a scene in Annie Hall where young Alvy (really, Woody) is talking to an uncle, "Joey Nichols." He's doing a bit about nickels; that people call him Joey Nickels! Nickels! Nickels! Joey Five- cents! Or something like that. Young Alvy walks past the camera and mutters: "What an asshole..." My brother and I found this hilarious. Now, I can only think that Woody is Joey Five- cents.
But, I am devastated when Evelyn Mulwray dies at the end of Chinatown. I wish Robert Towne had insisted on at least filming his original ending. It might've ended up on the blu-ray and I could cheer when Faye plugs her disgusting pig of a father and drives off into the night with her daughter/sister. She could just leave Jack Nicholson at the curb as far as I'm concerned.