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The Ghost Writer (2010)

Deep in my movie-streaming watch-list, I found The Ghost Writer (2010). To my recollection I'd never heard of it. I don't remember adding it to my list. Someone must've recommended it to me, and it must've been someone I like and respect, cuz I ignore recommendations from people I don't like and respect.

With a few hours to kill last night, what the hell, I watched the movie.

It's pretty good. Sort of a spy thriller where the main character is a ghost writer (hence the movie's title) working on some British politician's autobiography. Everyone's all freaked out about what might be in those memoirs, and scandals are swirling around the politician, and our protagonist's life might be in danger!

Yeah, it's all nonsense, but enjoyable nonsense, with clever dialogue, a plot that mostly makes sense, and a touch of agreeable politics toward the end. Also, it has several supporting actors I've always liked, including a brief but bravura appearance by the late, great Eli Wallach. I enjoyed the movie, and I'd say thanks to whoever recommended it, if I knew who that was.

The biggest twist came when the story was over. It's one of those movies with no opening credits, so until the end I didn't know I'd been watching "A Roman Polanski film." If I'd known that, I wouldn't have watched it.

Polanski can't set foot in America, because there's a warrant for his arrest, for raping a 13-year-old girl, decades ago. I'm easy-going when it comes to morals, and if she'd been 17 instead of 13, maybe you could plausibly say she was willing and maybe she lied about her age. But ... 13? Nope. No reasonable adult could mistake a 13-year-old for another adult, so Polanksi wasn't looking for an adult.

He was charged with six offenses, including rape and sodomy, but bargained it down to just one charge of unlawful sex, and then he jumped bail and fled the country. He was never punished for raping the girl, and he was never punished for jumping bail.

As an inside joke, I guess, there's dialogue in the movie explaining that America could be a safe haven for someone charged with war crimes, since the U.S. doesn't recognize the International Criminal Court's authority. And that's a valid point, Polanski, you wily old rapist you.

Until the big reveal at the end, I thought I'd be writing a few paragraphs and suggesting you should see this movie, but instead I'll just say, there's a movie. It's written and directed by a very talented child rapist who got away with his crimes. Maybe you want to watch it. Maybe you don't.

I wouldn't say I'm boycotting Roman Polanski (or Woody Allen or Harvey Weinstein or Louis CK or Michael Jackson or Gary Glitter, etc), but the asshole artist certainly looms over the art. I don't think I could dim the lights and enjoy Annie Hall like I did in the 1980s. Sometimes I hum along with "Thriller" on the car radio, but only for a moment, before remembering that Michael Jackson was a monster, and changing the station.

That's where I stand on scumbag artists, but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. Would you (knowingly) watch "a Roman Polanski film"?

 

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