J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

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Nasir007
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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#26 Post by Nasir007 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:34 pm

I would like to know if there was some horse trading behind the scenes (there always is) - whether if Polanski was indeed the winner but the jury couldn't get themselves to award it the Lion and made a compromise among themselves.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#27 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:49 pm

Has there been any whispers on possible distribution here or in the UK?

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#28 Post by Nasir007 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:10 pm

I would be really shocked if Polanski or Allen ever find distribution in the US. Or even Kechiche.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#29 Post by domino harvey » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:14 pm

This may be as good a trial balloon as you’re ever gonna get though for any distro willing to risk it

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#30 Post by furbicide » Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:06 am

Does anyone else get the impression that there's a bit of jumping at shadows with this stuff? Given that their client base are pretty much all cinephiles, is anyone really going to boycott, say, Artificial Eye if they decided to distribute this?

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#31 Post by Brian C » Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:50 am

I doubt it’s fear of a boycott so much as just feeling like it’s not worth the headaches of dealing with the negative publicity. I mean, I’d love to see the movie myself, and if I worked at a distributor that could handle this movie I’d be pushing to do it. But still, I can’t blame someone for not going out of their way to be the target of the inevitable thinkpieces.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#32 Post by Nasir007 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:19 am

You can read the headline "Child rapist awarded with a distribution deal by Sony Picture Classics". You can picture #boycottSony trending. You can imagine any actors and directors having other SPC films having to disavow Polanski and withdraw their movies from SPC.

Cancellation culture is absolute and all-powerful and pitiless.

Why would any distributor want to go up against it and destroy itself and perhaps even several associated artists? Is any film worth it? Are good intentions worth it? Are certain principles worth it when you are staring near-certain ruin in the face?

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tenia
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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#33 Post by tenia » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:17 am

Nasir007 wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:19 am
Why would any US distributor want to go up against it and destroy itself and perhaps even several associated artists?
Fixed.
In France, the movie will get distributed, many people seem to be eagerly expecting to see the new Polanski movie, just like they've been for the past 25 years, and pretty much nothing will change that.
Oh, and one of our public channel interviewed Woody Allen a few days ago for the French release of A Rainy Day in NY. They talked for about 3 minutes about his current story, and 25 about pretty much anything else. One of the 2 interviewers was Pierre Lescure, the current Cannes Festival president.
But in the US, yeah, people are big about boycotts.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#34 Post by Cremildo » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:44 pm

Image

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#35 Post by MichaelB » Fri Oct 18, 2019 3:04 am

tenia wrote: In France, the movie will get distributed, many people seem to be eagerly expecting to see the new Polanski movie, just like they've been for the past 25 years, and pretty much nothing will change that.
And there’s also the fact that it’s a French film about a still contentious aspect of French history - it’s fundamentally an easier sell in France.


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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#37 Post by tenia » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:04 pm

Still expected to open in France on twice the number of screens for Ford v Ferrari.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#38 Post by Nasir007 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:12 pm

This received 4 nominations from European Film Awards - Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actor.

Will this still get Cesar nominations? Will the French public/European public still want to see this?

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#39 Post by Cremildo » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:29 pm

Nasir007 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:12 pm
Will the French public/European public still want to see this?
As it opens tomorrow in France, we'll find out soon enough.

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Brian C
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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#40 Post by Brian C » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:03 pm

tenia wrote:Still expected to open in France on twice the number of screens for Ford v Ferrari.
I know which one I’d rather see.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#41 Post by tenia » Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:29 am

I do too, but I'm not sure it's the same as you !

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#42 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:19 am

Would it help either of you if I revealed that Ford v Ferrari is over 2.5 hours long?

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tenia
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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#43 Post by tenia » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:58 am

It actually might help me skipping both altogether then.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#44 Post by Brian C » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:19 am

Good lord, why not just film the whole race in real time, James Mangold


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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#46 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Mar 27, 2020 12:20 am

I would not say I'm a Polanski devotee especially over the last few inconsistent decades, nor am I one to be swept by his historical dramas (send out the firing squad if you must but The Pianist did very little for me), but I thought this was just terrific. Although this a period drama, Polanski has an uncanny ability to subtly agitate his milieu through imbuing thriller undertones into the methodical pacing of drama, and like Ghost Writer this deliberately exists at a steady boil of captivating forward momentum, even as the mood retains a calm, confident, and reserved nature. The narrative plays with intricate transitional strategies in weaving timelines to spin a full-scale picture of what is to be lost and gained, and the vast power of the systems that threaten the ethics that drive action.

Everything looks great here in a flawless execution all around, but with a cast this good it’s surprisingly Garrel who steals every brief scene he’s in as the oppressed yet humble and stoic Dreyfus, who made me feel surging empathy for him in subtle mannerisms or facial tics and sad, innocent eyes rather than expected pleas of pining innocence, taking a unique but compassionate approach to the role of the wrongfully accused. Perhaps I should have anticipated Polanski would drive this film as a piece of stimulated energy, but I didn't so this was a pleasant surprise, a breath of fresh air in return to form for the filmmaker. In a way this is spiritual cousins with the aforementioned Ghost Writer, which might be my favorite Polanski to be fair, as the best example of how to wrap the audience around the story with cinematic hypnosis that somehow suspends us and holds us there while maintaining a mild, modest temperature. This is the craft of a master with a very specific set of skills, and it's refreshing to see them applied to something that could have been ordinary in another filmmaker's hands.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#47 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Mar 27, 2020 9:34 pm

After sitting with this for another day, I can't shake the irony of how Polanski was treated in the wake of the #metoo movement when he is essentially making a film about privileged untouchable dominant groups persecuting marginalized innocents, but through examining France's antisemitism, which is his own source of trauma. I am in no way comparing being on one end of the stick to the other, but Polanski is making a statement here that should elicit empathy, and regardless of one's feelings on his crimes he has also been a victim in his earlier life, just maybe not in the area that his press comments have been taken. To completely disregard what he is trying to say here and place him in the box of oppressor on a separate issue is troubling as it allows the value of the issue of harm to conform to the zeitgeist rather than humanism which would allow them to exist as separate entities and acknowledge both the commonality and individualized experience. To get something out of this film is not to offer forgiveness or argue for a pass on the harm in favor of the pain, but this content is close to Polanski's chest for good reason, and there is a beating heart here that -if not separated from his other history- just feels... oppressed.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#48 Post by swo17 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:15 pm

All well said

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#49 Post by Nasir007 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:41 pm

This film is ostensibly Polanski's Lincoln - a meticulous, sober and somber recreation of a seismic historical event that changed the corresponding nation for ever, a story of injustice corrected - produced with extra-ordinary attention to detail and very handsome period recreation and verisimilitude. There is also enormous formal classicism on display - good old-fashioned competence and film-making that seems to be in short supply these days. There is also a rogue's gallery of famous actors appearing here and there in smaller roles buried under period make-up and attire. Though that is where the similarities end as Polanski's film while strong falls short of Spielberg's great masterpiece.

The film can be divided into three distinct thirds. The film opens with Dreyfus' (Louis Garrel, good) court martial. It then goes into a long section of Piquart's (Jean Dujardin, outstanding) career rise, private affairs and recollections about Dreyfus without seeming to advance the main story in any way. It instead seems mired in following Piquart's attempt to catch another person for spying (the crime for which Dreyfus was convicted). It is only when this subplot delivers the smoking gun to clear Dreyfus' name - an exculpatory handwriting sample - that the broth begins to heat up. It takes 45 minutes to get there, but the film suddenly becomes enormously compelling as proof of Dreyfus' innocence is discovered.

This leads to the second and strongest section of the film as Piquart's attempts to bring Dreyfus to justice are repeatedly thwarted and he runs head first into a vast military and governmental conspiracy.

You would think things would explode after the publishing of the titular J'Accuse letter which kicks off the final third of the film and this is unfortunately where the film stumbles a bit in my estimation. This final third is essentially a courtroom drama and this is where the film-makers suddenly realizing how much story there is still left to narrate and start taking shortcuts and cramming things willy-nilly. Suddenly the film starts resembling a wikipedia entry as important events are just mentioned in passing and the film moves on. The most egregious such instance for me is Henry's confession about forging the letter which essentially sealed the deal for the retrial. That entire episode is summed up in a single line of dialog from one character (Melvil Popad, acting as if in a different film altogether) to Piquart.

And this also shows the movie's shortcoming in terms of framing. The story is explicitly framed through Piquart. But this leaves out a lot of compelling information and events that would have given life to the drama. This tight frame of reference also means that the movie does not in any way establish the social or historical context for this story. You wouldn't know from just watching this film that this was an earth-shattering affair that changed a nation.

This also has the curious effect of completely sidelining Dreyfus as a character. Garrel essentially has a glorified cameo. You never can build up sympathy for his character because you literally don't spend any time with him. But this choice also might tips its hand in highlighting Polanski's deliberately cerebral approach to this material.

So here is the film's final gambit. It does not make the character of Dreyfus sympathetic at all. And yet it warms the blood and makes you seethe at the injustice done. Because, even if you do not feel sympathy for the victim, you are outraged by the consistent violation of due process. Viewed through the modern lens of expected civil liberties and a right of fair trial and due process, the proceedings in the film are revolting no matter how distant a figure Dreyfus is. And this according to me is the film's greatest success. We shouldn't take civil liberties lightly because as is so often the case, the majority consensus often opposes the cause of justice - at least initially.

So with this film Polanski strikes one in favor of due process. And that's a fair message.

Due process above all. Every single person deserves a fair trial. Every single person deserves a robust defense. Every single person deserves the right to tell their side of the story. Every single person deserves to see the evidence incriminating them. Every single person deserves the right to confront her/his accusers. Every single person deserves the right to cross-examine witnesses. No exceptions. This is one of the fundamental foundations of liberty.

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Re: J'accuse [An Officer and a Spy] (Roman Polanski, 2019)

#50 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:31 pm

I think you’re looking for a different movie than Polanski though. His attention to Piquart’s grapple with his own moral code vs institutional ideology is central to the themes of justice prevailing over personal bias or social consequences. While the detailed context is important as far as a framework to tell the story to pair Piquart’s ethical development shedding status and other comforts in favor of his conscience, I don’t believe the purpose of the film was to tell an objective account of the entire situation so much as one man’s internal battle to do what’s right. If Garrel was given more attention to expose his painful circumstances in detail this would have been another rehashed tale of an innocent man coping with his oppression. Instead it is about a man who is privileged choosing to rise up against these systems repeatedly despite all the harm he experiences. I think Garrel gives us all the reasons in the world to empathize with his character, in his facial expressions and stoic responses with solemn awareness of his powerlessness in the face of persecution, which is all we need (I’m very grateful that Polanski respected the audience enough not to spoonfeed us with dramatics).

I don’t think the film is about due process, but rather this is a part of the ethical standards that overwhelm our hero’s complacency to ignore the conscience in favor of comfort. To me this is a much more powerful message than any film about just the facts or a logical argument for due process, because it is interested in the emotional side instead, the compassion that human beings are capable of tapping into to stand up for their morals, and is clearly inspired by altruism instead of systemic means of providing equality in justice. In this way Polanski has crafted a film that is much more relevant today where people stand up for what they believe is right regardless of their own stake in the issue or privileged status. It’s incredibly optimistic about humanistic qualities reigning over selfish ones, and mirrors the principles of similar movements today that grow because of empathy rather than membership. I don’t think the story would be nearly as powerful if it tried to give attention to the peripheral elements of the case, and I believe Polanski knows that too. I mean, he literally is a Jew who was persecuted in the worst way, so I’m sure it took a very passionate objective in specific thematic interest to sideline that character in favor of the one whose morals prevailing over all else changed history, likely for that very reason. The rest is history, but that is timeless in its empowerment and anthropological celebration.

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