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Cannes Review: Emmanuelle Seigner A Raucous Revelation In Polanski’s Otherwise Stagy, Pointless ‘Venus In Fur’

Festivals
by Jessica Kiang
May 25, 2013 1:04 PM
118 Comments
  • |

Ever had the feeling, when the credits roll and the lights go up, that you’ve been watching a completely different film to everyone else? Welcome to our morning, which was spent at a screening of the last Cannes 2013 competition film, Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the David Ives broadway play “Venus in Fur.” 

Sure, there were laughs to be had, for which the delightful surprise of leading lady (and Polanski’s wife) Emmanuelle Seigner’s performance was largely to thank, and the witty inventiveness of the first act or so had us quite on board. But the overwrought twists and on-the-nose inversions of the second half, all the bigger for taking place in one contained space, along with the sneaking suspicion that the film thought it was being terribly transgressive and daring when it actually felt facile and not a little skeezy, cooled us considerably. So much so that when the three French guys next to us leapt to their feet applauding and shouting bravo, we did fleetingly wonder if we hadn’t blacked out and regained consciousness at the end of a subsequent screening, of something much, much better. No, the love in the room was for “Venus in Fur,” an apparently faithful adaptation of a play that, based on this evidence, we have to hazard we wouldn’t much like either.

That’s always a pitfall in talking about a film based on a play so let’s say up front that we’re not familiar with it in its theatrical form, and therefore many of the criticisms we have of the film may very well be inherent issues with the play. But there’s still a reason Polanski chose this work to adapt, this story to tell, so we’ll leave the disclaimer at that and refer to him as the author of the film, and its story, for simplicity’s sake.

Tom (Mathieu Amalric) is a theater director in the harried process of trying to cast the leading lady for his new play, an adaptation of an 18th century erotic tale of sexual domination/submission. Turning up late for the auditions is Vanda (Seigner) who coincidentally shares a name with the lead character, but as a gum-chewing, vulgar, trashy parvenu without an ounce of finesse, she’s the polar opposite of what Tom is looking for. Nonetheless he is persuaded to audition her, and is duly floored by her skilful transformation into the very embodiment of the Vanda of the play. Transported by her performance, they read on and on through the play, their fictional counterparts conflating with their ‘real’ selves, until every duality established at the outset (director/actor, dominant/submissive, vulgar/elegant, creator/created etc) has been reversed, often more than once, and Tom experiences a kind of ecstatic revelation as regards his attitude to sex, gender and desire.

Polanski has prior experience directing films based on modern plays, after “Death and the Maiden” and 2011’s “Carnage.” Despite the recent rehabilitation of the former in certain circles, we have to say we haven’t been a fan of these previous efforts and the issues we found with them are pertinent to ‘Venus.’ With the whole film taking place between just two players, inside a theater (aside from a really gorgeous opening shot that, set to Alexandre Desplat’s immense music promised a grandeur never otherwise delivered,) as time wears on that stagebound interiority really starts to drain the oxygen from the air. Furthermore, dramatic moments meant to communicate themes across a live room full of people, some of them far away in the cheap seats, feel grotesquely enormous in a tight two-shot. And with the themes of this play not exactly subtle or delicate, particularly at the climax, it all becomes a bit grating -- inescapable in its heavy-handedness. We’re just never wholly sure what the point of filming a play is unless you reinterpret the material to be more cinematic, and despite some nimble camerawork, ‘Venus’ feels content to retell through a lot of very talky talk, rather than reinvent.

Although we have a problem with the format, perhaps we’d have been able to move beyond it had the story worked better. Again initially, there’s a breeziness to the proceedings that perked us up -- Seigner is really superbly adept in a role that’s a gift for an actress wanting to showcase her lightning-quick versatility, and her various characterizations are spot-on to the point that, as the author intends, it becomes difficult to work out when the actress is acting, and when, if ever, she’s not. But the story is really of the director character, Tom, and his journey through the play-within-the-film to a kind of personal sexual epiphany and the inversion of many of his assumptions about sexual power politics. Which is all very well, but the BDSM themes don’t so much suggest these inversions as tie you up and whip you with them and while we get the feeling we’re supposed to see Tom’s journey of self-discovery as terribly transgressive and daring, it actually feels kind of schoolboyish and quaint. He wears heels! He gets tied up! He discovers he’s being manipulated and likes it, the kinky little monkey!

It’s also, of course, all about Tom. While Vanda is the dervish, the shapeshifter, the provocateuse, and by far the more interesting character (or set of characters), her purpose in the film is to act on Tom to change his life in the best Manic Pixie Dream Girl tradition, albeit with added kink. Not to get all “phallocentrism” and “male gaze” on you, but as terrifically fun as Vanda is, it’s feels like kind of a waste that this not her story. In fact she’s not really a person at all but a muse, a goddess whose sole intricate purpose is to act as an agent of change for a middle-aged man’s perception of eroticism. The tacit assumption that this purpose is entirely worth it, and entirely worth our attention, and everyone’s going to chuckle along with the joke just seemed, how can we say it...skeezy. To say nothing of discomfort we felt at the guffaws that sounded out when the Polanski proxy Amalric goes off on a rant about the culture of oversensitivity to issues like “child abuse” (cue a thousand journalist pencils scribbling in the dark on a thousand journalist pads.) Perhaps the line between pointedly meta and flat-out tasteless is finer than we’d imagined but that moment felt well, kind of gross in its overt self-justification.

Seigner is terrifically good and deserves all the great notices coming her way. And there’s definitely wit and verbal dexterity on display, and a fun kind of dismantling/rebuilding of our preconceptions throughout. But beneath a brittle veneer of verbal dash and cleverness this stagebound adaptation has little insight to give us into anything except the sexual hubris of an aging man, and frankly, we’re not sure we give a damn. [C]

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118 Comments

  • Alan B | June 29, 2014 8:04 AMReply

    Actually I finally saw this movie and quite liked it.

  • Guy with an opinion | June 1, 2013 12:12 PMReply

    The best thing that could ever happen to the internet is to have all comment sections removed from every website. Then all of you sad people that post garbage day after day after day after day.........would realize that none of it means anything. You are literally wasting your lives. You may as well be standing in a forest repeatedly poking a tree with your finger for all the effect you are having on the world. Do yourselves a favor - instead of posting something on a website tomorrow, go take a walk instead; you'll feel better and if you do it for a few days in a row the smart ones among you will realize that, omg, your opinion is absolutely irrelevant and you're better off using your time to do something that actually betters your life. But that won't happen, will it? You're all too narcissistic and egotistical. You actually think what you write on these stupid, little forums that tens of people visit is important. It's all so very sad.

  • GUY WITHOUT AN OPINION | June 5, 2013 3:58 PM

    Says the man who took the time to write a rather large and hateful comment a week after this article was published. You should take your own advice, hypocrite.

  • filmstager | May 28, 2013 6:38 AMReply

    If you have ever spent time in France you will find that dramatic textures poured like thick syrup are the cultural signatures. They revel in slight intrinsic nuance and its not always about the destination but the implicit slow journey to get there. American sensibilities are removed from such subtle meanderings, we want answers...now!

  • Mr Anonymous | May 27, 2013 2:32 PMReply

    Wow, what the hell is going on here?!

    Came here to read the review and got a shock when i noticed 113 comments and thought the film can't be that good! Can it? What have i missed? Lol.

  • Finish or Ban him | May 27, 2013 8:41 AMReply

    This guy, who we should not name, because he obviously has to prattle on, is a cancer.

  • Playlist CFO Terri Schwartz | May 27, 2013 1:54 PM

    Hi Alan,
    We appreciate you volunteering and we accept your offer to resign from our comments section. Good luck with all your future endeavors. Best - TS

  • Alan B | May 27, 2013 9:57 AM

    That's fine. Even if you can't ban anyone, if you want me to go, just email me and I'll go. I just need some advice: when someone like AS pops up and says I'm 'Ryan' or 'Alex' or whoever the hell disagrees with him, what should I do? Whatever you say I should do, I'll do, so how should I respond to someone whose sole purpose here is to insult and lie about me?

  • Oliver Lyttelton | May 27, 2013 9:47 AM

    For the record, we can't ban anyone: the commenting system doesn't have that capacity, at least without manually going through and deleting individual comments. Even if we did, Alan's already admitted that at other sites, being banned just caused him to change his name. But also, I don't think I would ban him even if we could. I think Alan is clearly intelligent, and probably has something to contribute to discussions, I just wish that wasn't all overshadowed by him being unpleasant and condescending to every single person he interacts with, whether here, on other sites or on Twitter.

    Alan, you've already indicated that you're prepared to be nicer to the writers here, and I thank you for it. So here's a further challenge: be nicer to everyone. Be open to the possibility that not everyone is a moron compared to you. Feel free to disagree, and even to correct, but do it with some degree of respect. Generally act like an adult having a conversation with other adults. I say this not because I care about whatever shit you throw at me or the other writers, but because the atmosphere round here has been toxic of late, and as others have indicated below, you've played a significant part in creating that. And everyone, yourself included, is going to have a better time if you dial down the bile. It's not going to immediately change the nature of discourse on the Internet, because there will always be trolls and crazies and outliers, but I don't think you're one of them in your heart of hearts. So, deal?

  • Alan B | May 27, 2013 9:01 AM

    'Finish' or 'ban' him? Doesn't that mean the same thing? Unless you mean to, you know, kill me? If you want to have me banned, then email one of the writers of this blog and petition THEM.

  • Vino | May 27, 2013 5:11 AMReply

    Polanski should stop filming >plays< repped by his talent agency.

  • CJ | May 26, 2013 5:58 PMReply

    Isn't the writer of this review the same girl who listed Charlize Theron in Young Adult as one of the top 10 "Essential Anti-Heroes in Cinema History"... Why even bother?

  • JC | May 26, 2013 5:44 PMReply

    Another movie by a pedophile giving vent to his twisted fantasies.

  • CJ | May 26, 2013 6:23 PM

    I guess that applies to Charlie Chaplin as well? Hitchcock vented the same way except he wasn't a pedophile, he was just a disturbed and repressed misogynist. All filmmakers with a true vision are venting their "fantasies" ... What makes Polanski's art any less important? Because he seduced a minor 40 years ago? What he did was disgusting in my eyes but you cannot label someone based off one event that occurred decades ago. As an artist I love his work. As a man I'm half/half. I despise his actions with that girl in 1977 but I find it hard not to sympathize with someone who survived the holocaust and then had the love of his life, eight months pregnant, brutally murdered.

  • The Doctor | May 26, 2013 2:52 PMReply

    I had to give this comment section a read, since I heard the review was stirring up controversy. I cannot comment on the review itself because I am not familiar with the play/film... but the way I read these comments were: People critiquing the review (harmless/expected) > People critiquing the critiques of the review (hypocritical) > Alan B throwing a hissy fit (pathetic) ...

  • Alan B | May 27, 2013 1:07 AM

    The Doctor: "Unlike you, I'm not too worried about my image (or grammar) on a comment section of some obscured internet blog." That's good, because you don't come across well.

    Harold: sure I was the problem. Sure it was. It was MY FAULT someone used my username, it was MY FAULT someone lied about me, it was MY FAULT people posted exclusively to insult me. Let's not allow these people to take responsibility for their actions, let's blame me for their mistakes.

  • Harold | May 26, 2013 11:05 PM

    Alan won't stop until he has the last word. Pathetic hissy fit is a good way of putting it. He ruined this place for comments.

  • THE DOCTOR | May 26, 2013 8:58 PM

    Alan B - Unlike you, I'm not too worried about my image (or grammar) on a comment section of some obscured internet blog. Your pseudo-intellectual hullabaloo along with your condescending tone just further laments the fact that you're a giant prick. You clearly think you're above everyone on this forum yet you act like the most pathetic of all the commenters. Now accept the fact that you'll be alone the rest of your life, piss off, and quit embarrassing yourself. My work is done here. I won't be entertaining this lowlife any further...yea that about does it.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 8:13 PM

    No, I actually know I am 'unlikeable', but even 'unlikeable' people can be right AND nice. I came on this page because someone has posted a mean-spirited post about the critic in MY NAME. I disagreed with the post, both in terms of its CONTENT and FORM. You posted EXCLUSIVELY to denigrate me. You first post ends with a punchline at my expense. So you're not exactly being Ned Flanders yourself. The only differences between us are that I KNOW I am unlikeable and I am capable of more than vitriol.

  • THE DOCTOR | May 26, 2013 7:18 PM

    Alan B - I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm not a real doctor. And I don't find it that amazing that you're easily most hated person on this page. You're quite unlikeable. Irredeemably so. But you're too stubborn to realize this.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 7:05 PM

    Then again, I find it amazing that - despite Roman Polanski being, you know, a pedophile - I am EASILY the most hated name associated with this review on this page.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 6:44 PM

    Technically, we haven't "met", but I can understand what you are TRYING to say. You got your doctorate at Brown, didn't you? And you're not so charming yourself either, reverting to name-calling . And not laughing at your jokes(?) doesn't AUTOMATICALLY mean a lack of humor: if anything, it means my standards for humor are higher than 'haha' and 'cretin' and 'this guy'. Frankly, I think you "find it hard not to laugh at" a lot of things. And, buddy, just to let you know: you need to add a space at the end of an ellipsis. I thought a doctor - or, you know, THE Doctor - would have known better.

  • THE DOCTOR | May 26, 2013 6:31 PM

    Alan B/Cretin - I wouldn't expect you to find much of anything "hilarious" because you clearly lack a sense of humor. It's not the only thing you lack either. Frankly, I find it hard not to laugh at you... I've never met a person so disliked even in the smallest corners of the internet. And you couldn't filch an ounce of pity from me or anyone else because you're just unfathomably repulsive.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 6:22 PM

    Loved the analysis, doc: are you Freudian or Jungian? And nothing quite says HILARIOUS like someone who needs to laugh at his own jokes.

  • THE DOCTOR | May 26, 2013 6:16 PM

    Alan B - That advice was free. Don't sweat the petty stuff (and don't pet the sweaty stuff.) You don't have to "give a shit" what I say... but it's the truth. And you'd be much better off adhering to it. I'd hate to see what you're like when someone hurts your feelings in person! haha

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 6:10 PM

    Thanks for the advice, but I'll continue not giving a shit what you say, OK?

  • THE DOCTOR | May 26, 2013 6:05 PM

    Alan B - Your life must not be that interesting outside of internet message boards if you really feel the need to prove yourself on here. You act like you're defending your name, image, honor... Get real... you're on a comment section of some blog... Relax and stop worrying about petty comments. Yeesh! This guy....

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 5:44 PM

    Sure, I am throwing a "hissy fit". Someone uses my username to (pathetically) insult the reviewer: "hey man, that's fine". Someone posts untrue statements about me and then fails to back it up with evidence: "also fine".

  • Spoi | May 26, 2013 10:08 AMReply

    Exhibit A: Mental illness on the Internet - This comments section.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 12:48 PM

    El Hanso: Fair enough. In fact, I will try to be nicer in the future towards the writers as a result of your comments.
    @Hard Truths for Alan: You want to use a hyphen to connect the words "troll like" because the term "like" is not a word but a suffix. If you are going to insult someone, don't embarrass yourself in the process. Free advice.

  • El Hanso | May 26, 2013 12:20 PM

    I was just saying that I never see as much harsh and often hateful criticism towards the writers on a film blog as on The Playlist. Oliver and Rodrigo regularly get replies that are beyond mere criticism. This review was just the most recent. I have no idea whether you, Alan, how nice or mean your posts usually are. User names are kind of weird on this site. Maybe because there's no registration. I was making a general statement, an observation.
    Because don't get me wrong; if a writer messed up - tell him/her! I just felt that sometimes the user's remarks get way too personal. It's unnecessary to call a writer a hack or a moron, just because there were a few typos too many.

  • Hard Truths for Alan | May 26, 2013 12:20 PM

    Alan B: Your troll like ways have been ruining this place for months. Truth.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 11:30 AM

    Wait, it was MY FAULT someone else used my name to comment? It was MY FAULT El Hanso popped around to criticize the commentators for their negative reviews? It was MY FAULT AS had an agenda and threw inaccurate bile at me? Sheesh ... I honestly didn't have much to say about this film review because I haven't read the play or seen the film, but I don't understand why it makes me a troll to ask someone to stop using my username.

  • Orf | May 26, 2013 11:18 AM

    Agreed. It all started with that Alan B guy. What a troll. Before he came and ruined this comment section I see only negative feedback to a shoddy review.

  • AS | May 26, 2013 12:50 AMReply

    Oh dear, Jarrod's at it again. Whether it's on Letterboxd (under the name "Ryan"), Rope of Silicon (under an assortment of different names ranging from "Jarrod" to "alex") or The Playlist (generally under "Alan B.," although he assumes various different aliases here as well), Jarrod never fails to incite random arguments, correct grammar and quibble about SEMANTICS. It's shocking that a 28 year old man - who claims to work almost EVERY DAY - has so much free time to troll. He doesn't need to "get a life" (as Realer Alan B suggests below) because this IS his life.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 8:05 PM

    Isn't it TOO COINCIDENTAL that someone knows how to work a search engine? MAGIC! Isn't it TOO COINCIDENTAL that more than one person capitalises letters? MAGIC! MAGIC! MAGIC MAGIC!

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 7:08 PM

    Magic! Magic! How do magic search engines work? I don't understand! MAGICCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 7:07 PM

    Can I just explain MAGIC anytime you have a question? It would take FAR TOO LONG for you to understand anything else.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 7:03 PM

    MAGIC! MAGIC! Search engines work like MAGIC! Let me understand your ways O SORCERER! MAGICCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC!

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 7:00 PM

    *sighs* BECAUSE I TYPED IN "Alex says" and when you type in "Alex says" - i.e. putting the term, not just THE NAME in inverted commas - you ONLY get the username "Alex". YOU DO NOT GET ALEX WHOEVER-THE-HELL ELSE THERE IS. YOU ONLY GET 'ALEX'. If I typed in "Alex", I would have gotten ALEX I-DON'T-GIVE-A-SHIT-WHO-ELSE-THERE-IS, but I didn't. Try it yourself GENIUS! And why did you BRING UP THE WHOLE NOTION OF IP ADDRESSES if you had ZERO INTENTION OF FOLLOWING IT UP. Bother 'Ryan', stop bothering me with IGNORANT questions that - LITERALLY - could be answered with a search result: "alex says" (in fact, here is the search result for you: because of spammer protection, I can't type in an actual address so just type in RopeofSilicon's home page and then add /search/?q=%22alex+says%22&sa=Search&cx=009175171752077678915%3Ayqsmwdtg7go&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=UTF-8). How have you gone through your life without understand HOW SEARCH ENGINES WORK?

  • AS | May 26, 2013 6:47 PM

    “I tied [sic] in ‘Alex says’ in RopeofSilicon's search engine. Not hard.” – Which produces hundreds of results ranging from “Alex Cross” to “Alex Thomas” to “Alex Roggio.” Some results date back as far as 2010. So again, how did you know who I was specifically referring to?

  • AS | May 26, 2013 6:47 PM

    "I've had conversations with Brad via email about you in the past and he's told me about how you have used different IP addresses to post comments on the site AFTER he blocked you. Brad finally said he was just too tired to bother blocking you anymore. This little attempt of yours to clear your name is pointless and pathetic" =====> "But it's PATHETIC you won't even ask Brad to check if ANY OF MY IP ADDRESSES correlates to Alex's. You won't even try." I know you're a little slow on the uptake so I'll spell it out for you: You use DIFFERENT IP addresses in order to comment on Rope of Silicon. You yourself admitted as much when you said "I used to post under the username Alan - which is my name - on RopeofSilicon until Brevet stopped allowing my comments to go through, then I used Jarrod." As if this wasn't explicitly clear already: He blocked you at least twice, but yet you're still able to comment on ROS. How is this possible? Because you use different IP addresses . Therefore, it makes absolutely no difference if there's no match between "Alex"'s IP addresses and yours. You have already been using different IP addresses to gain access to the comment section.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 6:06 PM

    Question: can I be expecting more dumb, naïve questions or are you going to test the Alex=Alan theory you got by asking Brad? Knowing you, I would expect more dumb questions.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 6:03 PM

    Yeah, I pulled some REAL HARRY POTTER-SHIT THERE. Typing in a couple of words (with inverted commas) into a search engine: it's like magic, it is.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 5:58 PM

    *typed

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 5:57 PM

    I tied in "Alex says" in RopeofSilicon's search engine. Not hard.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 5:54 PM

    ""Alex"? What the fuck are you talking about?"
    "Rope of Silicon (under an assortment of different names ranging from "Jarrod" to "alex")"
    ""Alex"? What the fuck are you talking about?"
    "Rope of Silicon (under an assortment of different names ranging from "Jarrod" to "alex")"

    Yeah, you NEVER mentioned Alex. Fine, BOTHER RYAN, then. Ryan can deal with your ugly, consistently STUPID arguments. Write whatever you want to him. But it's PATHETIC you won't even ask Brad to check if ANY OF MY IP ADDRESSES correlates to Alex's. You won't even try.

  • AS | May 26, 2013 5:52 PM

    Oh and btw, how did you even know who I was referring to when I said "Alex"?

  • AS | May 26, 2013 5:45 PM

    "Alex"? What the fuck are you talking about? This is all about LETTTERBOXD, asshole. I've had conversations with Brad via email about you in the past and he's told me about how you have used different IP addresses to post comments on the site AFTER he blocked you. Brad finally said he was just too tired to bother blocking you anymore. This little attempt of yours to clear your name is pointless and pathetic. Oh, and I won't hesitant to CONTACT you again.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 5:36 PM

    I respect myself enough to not allow any douchebag to lie about me. But THANKS FOR THE ADVICE, O' UNDERSTANDERER OF ALL THINGS.

  • Anti-Alan | May 26, 2013 5:21 PM

    @ALAN B: You really need to stop worrying about your image and reputation on internet blogs and have a little self respect....

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 5:12 PM

    I have sent Brad Brevet an email. Ask him to cross-reference my IP address with that of Alex's IP address. I have given you the capacity to cross-reference the IP addresses. Please don't contact me again.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 4:52 PM

    Great. So basically you finally admit your "evidence" is shit you are too lazy/not able to look up. Not everyone is the same. Contact me when you get some EVIDENCE.

  • AS | May 26, 2013 2:41 PM

    *possess

  • AS | May 26, 2013 2:39 PM

    All I need is your IP address and the ability to cross-reference it with your account on Letterboxd and the comments posted here as well as on ROS. Sadly, I do not poses such information or capabilities, so I'll let your words speak for themselves.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 1:56 PM

    You do realize you need EVIDENCE to accuse someone of lying, right? You do UNDERSTAND, right?

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 1:55 PM

    Evidence?

  • AS | May 26, 2013 1:49 PM

    Repeating the lie does not magically turn it into truth. But by all means, keep trying.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 12:59 PM

    Moreover, you owe me an apology for LYING about me.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 12:56 PM

    Yeah, I guess LexG/Ray Quick - one of the most famous commentators on the internet - must be me, too? "WORTHINGTON IS GOD, the best actor of his generation by a MILE…WORTHINGTON POWER. Hits it out of the park each and every time at the plate ... The Coens are maybe the only living directors that get an ABSOLUTE FREE PASS on any- and everything, there’s never so much as a single contrarian voice ... I also know how to think for myself, and don’t rely on some bullshit check-points to write about film. And I am a better writer than you. Because I’M SMAAAAAAARTER THAN YOU. But by all means, please whip up some of your searing “insight and education” on your cheap-looking, unread blog." I mean, we both writer similarly. WE MUST BE THE SAME.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 12:41 PM

    OK, so I looked up this Ryan character and it says on his profile that he lives in Pennsylvania: buddy, I don't live in America. I am not an American and I have never been an American. I am not part American or sub-American or any other kind of American. Seriously, have you ever heard me say that I was an American on RopeofSilicon: it's because I was born and raised in the Southern hemisphere. I may write in a more American style, but that's a result of globalization and other cultural influences. His favorite film of last year was 'The Hobbit': I haven't seen it and - in fact - I have only seen three of the films of his top 10 list. Many people use capitalization, and I was primarily influenced by the Hollywood-Elsewhere commentators and, you know, LOTS OF PEOPLE USE CAPITALISATION. That was your EVIDENCE? Sheesh ... I am not trying to hide anything. I am not this Ryan character. 'Because I said so' isn't evidence.

  • AS | May 26, 2013 11:52 AM

    1). A lie. 2). Another lie. 3). Not entirely untrue, although as I said, you've posted under many more names than just "Alan" and "Jarrod." 4). If you lied about your age on Letterboxd, that's on you. 5). Just going by what you said here: http://letterboxd.com/cinebro/list/proposal-the-june-challenge-100-movies-no/#comment-369453 If you genuinely want to pass yourself off as someone else, put in some effort and switch up your writing style/tone (i.e. stop CAPITALIZING so many words).

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 10:45 AM

    So put up some evidence. Oh wait, the EVIDENCE doesn't exist. It's easy to LIE and make up BULLSHIT just because you can't deal with someone disagreeing with you.

  • Alan B | May 26, 2013 10:40 AM

    Number 1: The only time I have been on Letterboxd was RIGHT NOW to check out what is you're talking about. I have never been on the site before today. I don't know who Ryan is, and I don't care. In fact, the sites I regularly comment on are Indiewire, Awards Daily, Hollywood-Elsewhere, Collider and RopeofSilicon.
    Number 2: I have NEVER assumed another name on this site, other than Alan (until someone started using that name, and then I changed to Alan B).
    Number 3: I used to post under the username Alan - which is my name - on RopeofSilicon until Brevet stopped allowing my comments to go through, then I used Jarrod. I didn't see it as a big deal.
    Number 4: I am not 28. Have ZERO idea where you go that number YOU MORON.
    Number 5: I used to work six days a week, then I cut down my hours and now I work 5. What of it?
    So, wow, so many FUCKING ERRORS in a single paragraph: that isn't quibbling about SEMANTICS. That is just you being a LIAR, which is what you are. So cut the condescension, douchebag: I just didn't want to be associated with someone who called Kiang "lazy and close-minded". I have grown a lot of respect for her writing during this festival. In fact, I earlier posted earlier posted on her 'The Immigrant', "this is the best written review I've read on this site in a long, long time. Kiang captures the tone, mood and psychological values of the film with feeling and intelligence". So, I respect intelligent writing and commentary, not the perpetual BULLSHIT that you write.

  • Edward | May 25, 2013 9:06 PMReply

    What the hell is going on in this thread??

  • REAL ALAN B | May 26, 2013 1:03 AM

    You're telling the person you PRETENDED TO BE to get a life? This isn't actually the first time someone has used my username, and I am a little sick of people like you. You haven't admitted that what you did was wrong, and you're only response is 'ha, ha, get over it, lol'. Pick YOUR OWN username.

  • REALER ALAN B | May 25, 2013 10:06 PM

    I'm not worried about being grammar-saavy on an internet message board... I find it humorous yet humiliating for you that you're so concerned with your "image" on an obscure blogs message board. Get over yourself... and while you're at it, get a life.

  • Alan B | May 25, 2013 10:04 PM

    Well, at least you've admitted it.

  • WISER ALAN B | May 25, 2013 9:58 PM

    @snob (aka Alan B) : You pretty much understand where I'm coming from... your last sentence is exactly what I'm doing. Thanks for that. Cheers.

  • REAL ALAN B | May 25, 2013 9:56 PM

    I never said I was a "somebody": learn how to use quotations, too.

  • Real Alan B | May 25, 2013 9:51 PM

    The fact that you used my name and KEEP ON USING ALTERNATE VERSIONS OF IT tells you me that YOU think it's important. If you didn't believe it was important, you wouldn't have used it IN THE FIRST PLACE. Use a DIFFERENT name. You are capable of not writing 'Alan B' to fill out the username section, right? 'In order to show you how much I don't care about your name, I am going to use it ... and use it ... and use it and use it and use ...'

  • THE BETTER ALAN B | May 25, 2013 9:40 PM

    @Real Alan B: Keep telling yourself you're actually a "somebody" on *the message boards of an internet blog*... quite a pathetic. Have a nice day.

  • Real Alan B | May 25, 2013 9:36 PM

    Yeah alright: someone ACCIDENTALLY used my name to attack the critic. I may be taking this seriously, but you don't know what either "pretentious" or "ignoramus" means: you just have a stupid, insipid, BORING agenda, and anyone who disagrees is, like, so, like, so pretentious and, like, shit ...

  • ALAN BEE | May 25, 2013 9:30 PM

    Pretentious people are trying to defend a film review and trying to defy others opinions. And this "Alan B" ignoramus takes his internet message board image WAY too seriously haha.

  • Julesjim | May 25, 2013 9:27 PM

    Smug folks are flipping out over negative feedback. As if The Great Big Nothing that is The Playlist's message boards mean anything...

  • Alan B | May 25, 2013 9:17 PM

    Well, a negative review of the latest Polanski film has inspired the divergent thoughts of fans, misogynists, legitimately intelligent commentators, someone who believes that the 'Alan B' name will automatically paper over the cracks in his argument, someone who can only outsmart a fake version of me and 'El Hanso', who suggests that this is the ugliest comments section in film fandom. Thanks for the contribution, Edward ...

  • patchthehavoc | May 25, 2013 8:33 PMReply

    ... well, what an interesting digression into the land of sexist ad hominems thinly disguised as indignation over the critical objective lens being applied.

    I haven't seen the film, obviously, but the play is excellent and the direction by Walter Bobbie was extremely even-handed in its treatment of the inherent gender politics, agency, power shifts, etc., and Vanda's agent-of-change role did not feel as if it was undertaken in service of Thomas' journey of self-discovery at all; it felt more like an unexpected but mutual embarkation. Reading this review, it sounds to me -- sight blind, naturellement -- that the lens through which Polanski filtered the source material is... well, perhaps one that appeals to him/one through which he understood the material. The critique of the male gaze through which to see the film is certainly a valid one, and I would not be surprised if the whole thing is thrown fatally off-kilter because of that shift in focal perspective. I was never going to see it anyway, because I have little interest in putting a cent of support behind a criminal and his apologists; I just think that this is a pity, because the material is EXCELLENT and deserves better treatment and I'm sure the performances must have been very good as well.

  • BEF | May 25, 2013 7:58 PMReply

    Yes there are mistakes; however, people are expecting reviews immediately on this site to know what's up at Cannes ... there are gonna be mistakes and human errors to get it to you guys so freakin' fast. I'd appreciate a little more time to craft the review, however, so many folks would be posting "where's the XXXXXXX review?" if they'd seen a review of it somewhere earlier.

  • BEF | May 25, 2013 10:19 PM

    @JulesJim -- Yes I can be surprised at the backlash that this review has received, because I doubt that anyone commenting has seen the movie ... how can you backlash against something you haven't seen. Now I admire Polanski as a filmmaker, but he is capable of making a dud (Oliver Twist Pirates! The Ninth Gate). I won't say it's great and worthy until I see it. AND -- the reviewer states at the beginning that she didn't have the same feeling as the audience. She's pretty upfront about it.

  • JULESJIM | May 25, 2013 8:23 PM

    You're missing the point. The mistakes and errors wouldn't be a big deal if the review had been informative and thought-provoking. Pauline Kael said to critique with an open mind... where's the open-mindedness in this review? Polanski is arguably the greatest living filmmaker and to brush off a play-adaptation film of his as "stagy" and "pointless" is rubbish. I know everyone's entitled to their opinions but you can't honestly be surprised at the backlash this review has received?

  • jacob | May 25, 2013 6:47 PMReply

    I don't get the fuss. It's a good review from a person who didn't like the film. Settle down, y'all.

  • El Hanso | May 25, 2013 6:16 PMReply

    Why is it that the Playlist readers are among the most hostile in the online film news world? I visit quite a few different sites, but nowhere else does stuff like this happen. And it happens frequently. Readers attacking and insulting the writers for the slightest mistakes. I mean, yes, if there are mistakes (like the "Macbeth" omission here) - point them out. If you disagree, tell us about it. But it sometimes feels like people are just desperately looking for that one however big or small mistake to force another rant. A rant that very often feels smug and pretentious. Because on The Playlist it's somehow 'en vogue' to badmouth everything. And to be honest, it's kind of pissing me off.

  • Real Alan B | May 25, 2013 8:46 PM

    Well El Hanso (if that is indeed your real name), some douchebag re-appropriate my screen name. Rather than having his or her post deleted or edited, Oliver Lyttelton allowed this 'sock puppet' to shit over the review. Then Lyttelton chose to throw mud at 'Alan B', which - I guess - is easier than engaging someone with INFORMED opinions. I have actually liked Kiang's reviews at Cannes and earlier posted, "Wow, this is the best written review I've read on this site in a long, long time. Kiang captures the tone, mood and psychological values of the film with feeling and intelligence, rending the rating almost pointless". So I am not a complete asshole and I will comment on good writing when I see it, but - when events like this occur - I have the right to be more than a little cynical about the motives of The Playlist's staff.

  • O | May 25, 2013 8:16 PM

    Pissing you off? All I've read on here are critiques of a sloppy review. If you don't want people critiquing your own critiques (especially one so harsh as this) ... you're out of your mind. Polanski is a major artist in the film community... calling a new and promising film of his "pointless" is surely going to get negative feedback among cinephiles...

  • Sir Richard | May 25, 2013 5:38 PMReply

    Polanski has been mastering intimate 1-on-1 scenes his entire career. No one can work a camera around 2 characters like Polanski, in my opinion. I'm surprised to read an extremely unflattering review of the film (almost the same grade Jessica Kiang gave Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, ouch!) This play seems ripe for Polanski's to display his "icy wit" and unflinching eye. Still excited to see this! Polanski's world-view isn't for everyone... One must separate the artist from the man. (cough, cough)

  • sir richard | May 26, 2013 6:10 PM

    @TED: That was a rather foolish statement. Of course you can separate the artist from the man... Does labeling Polanski as a "rapist" make his films any less important in cinema history? You don't have to respect the "man".. the "man who had sex with a minor"... but no cinephile can dispute his importance and influence as an "artist" in cinema with his major works (i.e. Chinatown, Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, etc...)

  • Ted | May 26, 2013 5:39 PM

    There is no such thing that separates the artist from the man. The "artist" happens to be a very flawed man, a rapist, who clearly has deep issues with women.

  • TwitterBusted | May 25, 2013 5:12 PMReply

    Jessica Kiang (the reviewer) called herself "misty-eyed" the night before this review on Twitter. I think this comment section has some harsh feelings toward misty-eyed-Jessica-Kiang... Better invest in some eye drops... Your hazy vision produced a hazy critique. ;)

  • Alan B | May 25, 2013 9:27 PM

    "Off the top of my head"? USE A DIFFERENT NAME: why was that so hard for you? When you go onto a site that has a commentator called 'Alan B' and then use said name, you are using my IMAGE, whether you understand that concept or not. That's what you're doing. You did the wrong thing. Accept it and move on ...

  • FAKE ALAN B | May 25, 2013 9:07 PM

    Lol - Get off your high horse. I read your name earlier today and decided to use it because it was off the top of my head. I was by no means trying to use your "image" I was just filling in a username. I don't even know who you are but you sound like a smug c*nt haha. Relax.

  • Real Alan B | May 25, 2013 8:59 PM

    Well, the fact that 'Alan B' cared enough to use my name and that 'Alan B' wanted other people to think that he was me and that 'Alan B' is so insecure in his own feelings that he needed another person's screen name to express them showed that it is meaningful to at least two people. Write whatever you want, I actually don't care, just don't use other people's names to do so. It's just pathetic and that's it. I think it's fair enough to out an imposter and your attempt to pass the buck in that respect is just sad.

  • FAKE ALAN B | May 25, 2013 8:36 PM

    No one is schooling anyone here. TwitterBusted quoted Jessica Kiang herself through her tweet saying she felt Misty-eyed and that "screen blindness is setting in".. she was joking... just like Twitterbusted was... Where has your sense of humour gone? TwitterBusted was joking about how she felt fatigued and that it effected her review... Yeesh. You guys need to quit trying to prove your above everyone else but trying to find flaws... Muphry's Law and all that... You try to smart aleck someone and in return you make yourself look a fool.

  • Real Alan B | May 25, 2013 8:28 PM

    And Oliver, it's actually defamation for this 'Alan B' to re-appropriate my name, but I am glad you are SCHOOLING this fraud: it's quite obvious that the only 'Alan B' you could ever outthink is a fake one.

  • FAKE ALAN B | May 25, 2013 8:26 PM

    @REAL ALAN B : What did you think of Jessica's review? Or did you really just come on here to out an impostor? Like that's going to mean anything to anyone reading these comments....

  • Real Alan B | May 25, 2013 8:15 PM

    Yeah, I know I am SO AMAZING that everyone else just NEEDS to post under my name. However, whoever resorted to impersonation is clearly so inadequate that he needs SOMEONE ELSE'S name to express their loser values. Pathetic!

  • Oliver Lyttelton | May 25, 2013 7:25 PM

    Do either of you actually know what 'misty-eyed' means?

  • Alan B | May 25, 2013 5:24 PM

    What can you expect? If you walk into a theatre lazy and close-minded... it will probably result in a lazy and close-minded review.

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