January 31, 2003

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was gonna try to get to the Film Forum this week for Rosemary's Baby (which I'd always wanted to see in a crowded theater lousy with hip, in-on-the-joke New Yorkers), and this evening I went to the last screening on the last night of the limited run. The experience was a blast -- the audience was as giddy and animated as a typical Rocky Horror gathering.

There are so many reasons why I love this movie:

-The set design of Rosemary's apartment doesn't make a single attempt to be "mod," even though she and her husband are upwardly mobile and with-it thirtysomethings. The furniture, carpeting, linen, and drapery are all drab and conservative -- olive green, gingham, washed-out yellow, dark brown. It's like walking into the apartment of a now-elderly couple who moved there in 1965 and never changed a thing.

-The building itself (the infamous Dakota). I've had several nightmares that have taken place in buildings just like this -- dark, musty, cavernous, tony but slightly decrepit, with doormen and elevator men and eccentric neighbors -- and that old-school blueblooded Upper West Side stateliness that I've always envied. It's also quintessential white-New York-in-the-sixties: very Neil Simon, very Laura Nyro.

-Rosemary and Guy have sex a lot -- which works for the movie because [a] it's so obvious that Polanski was shooting for both "pervy-European-realism" and "American free-luv, baby" and [b] they're such a creepy couple that there's a certain element of horror in the idea of them getting it on.

-The dated language! The dated everything! Rosemary giggling like a schoolgirl at the mere thought of "marijuana"! The swingin' house party (with a cameo by Sharon Tate) where the minidresses and false eyelashes Rosemary's girlfriends wear are pretty much the only hint of chic-couture in the movie at all! Rosemary's Jean Seberg/Twiggy haircut -- "I've been to Vidal Sassoon: It's the in thing"! The title of the play Guy starred in: Nobody Loves An Albatross! The fact that in 1960s New York, theatre was this really hip pastime! The fact that Guy is John Cassavetes! And Rosemary is Mia Farrow! The word "dietary"! Anagrams via Scrabble! A store specializing in rare books! A taxicab! Affectionate ass-slapping! Ruth Gordon! DUDE, MAUDE IS A SATANIST. (And look, there's a young Charles Grodin, speaking out in hushed disgust against those "maniacs" who practice witchcraft!) The Goblinesque eerie theme music! "Fur Elise" as a recurring motif! Before it became a piano-class cliche!!

Forgive me, I'm still beaming.