Occultober – Day 29 – Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby
A film that has stood the test of time better than most, Roman Polanski’s second film focusing on a woman slowly devolving into hysteria (the first being Repulsion), the success of Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 is paramount in the rise of the modern incarnation occult film in the 1970s. This is patient, if not entirely subtle filmmaking that also mark the vibe of the decade to follow.

In the first few moments of the film, there are enough portent signs and signifiers and waiting for the eventual reveal is a painful kind of bliss with only the soothing balm of Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer’s performances, both goofy and slick (respectfully). I find it difficult to find fault with this rather unique approach, and the whole proceedings have a hell of a capstone.

But really, the first 15 minutes of the film is where it is at. That ‘seeking’ pan across the New York City skyline set to an off-kilter lullaby version of Que Sera Sera. Score rather than song is absent the lyrics and inspires dread rather than hope, but the question is nevertheless, “when I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what I would be…” The answer, is apparently the mother of Satan. If Doris Day can belt that song out in Hitchcock’s , surely it can be subverted here as an anthem for the woman who knew too little, too late.

I took a huge amount of pleasure in noir-staple character actor Elisha Cook Jr. fastidiously showing off the grand old apartment (of spook central) to the young married couple. His question – and the first actual line of dialogue in the film – is whether John Cassavetes’ character is a Doctor or an Actor. The film will feature many doctors (and more than a few midwives) who are indeed more actors than doctors. A stray scrap of paper is shown belonging to the former, quite deceased, owner of the apartment whose last act was to block a closet door on the thin shared wall of her creepy and nosy neighbors with a heavy wardrobe. It reads “I can no longer associate myself.” Perhaps a hint of Mia Farrow’s soon-to-be overwhelming paranoia and powerlessness. A magazine cover will later query, “Is God Dead?” Never has a film so front-loaded its purpose only to then draw out and tease the audience for nearly two hours as surely as Farrow’s body (and hairdo) slowly withers away. But then that kicker of a climax is as surprising as it is inevitable. This is Cinema of Masochism made with exquisite craft – and so many great Polanski films would follow.

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Cinecast Episode 296 – Praying at the Juno Temple

Without much going on in theaters currently, Andrew and Kurt take to the internet and discuss the current VOD release of The Brass Teapot starring Juno Temple and Michael Angarano. A quiet little 80s style suburban fable with a a dash of Dante, a sprinkle of The Great Recession and a dollop of light bondage. Andrew sorts out his security issues with the Google-machine and the video edition returns. All the better to see you with (my dear) as we delve further into the Orson Scott Card boycott – which is a do-over of the Polanski debates had on previous Cinecast shows. Andrew finds pleasure in needling our frequent co-host, Matt Gamble, when he can’t defend himself. The Watch List is also Polanski heavy as well TV-talk with disparate subjects ranging from “Game of Thrones” season 2, and the long running medical dramedy with Zach Braff in “Scrubs.” We delve into the 1% defense examined in Richard Gere’s Arbitrage and sad-sack Stallone in James Mangold’s Copland.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


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Full show notes and VIDEO version are under the seats…
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