Roman À Clef

A 12-film series, "Cinema of Claustrophobia," gives us the real Polanski

That leaves the gleefully perverse Bitter Moon (August 27 and 28) to serve for the moment as his career statement. As Coyote's hardboiled vulgarian, Oscar, tempts Grant's flustered innocent with lipsmacking depravities he can scarcely imagine, Polanski tweaks his audience's craving for naughty fun and his reputation as a brand-name peddler of elegant perversity. Like Oscar, he gives us more than we bargained for--pig-snout fetishes, nasty razor games, an outlandishly cruel revenge scenario--then laughs to see us still sitting there, aghast but hooked. To top it off, he casts his own wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, as Oscar's, and enlists his leonine Amazon in nude scenes of discomforting silliness. Good golly, Svengali! "Sharing secrets of your perverted sex life with a total stranger!" huffs Grant, as if voicing our own secret thoughts.

"If two men are on board, one will be captain": Leon Niemczyk and Zygmunt Malanowicz in 'Knife in the Water'
Oak Street Arts
"If two men are on board, one will be captain": Leon Niemczyk and Zygmunt Malanowicz in 'Knife in the Water'

Oscar, standing in for his creator, is too tickled to point out the obvious: The stranger, still listening, is us.

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