Monday, June 25, 2018

freakboy on film: JOHN'S ABSOLUTE FAVORITE

I have a lot of favorite films.  There was a time when my Top Ten list would fluctuate on any given day, so picking one absolute favorite film was impossible.  This changed recently thanks to a bridal shower.  

No, it wasn't a progressive, 21st Century-style bridal shower, and even if it had been, I still wouldn't have attended because I would have died from boredom or at least lost the rest of my vision from excessive eye-rolling.  My sister attended our oldest niece's shower and then told me all about it.  Only one activity sounded intriguing to me.

The guests took a fun little quiz to see who knew the bride best.  One question was , "What is the bride's favorite movie?"   This got my brain churning because my niece had narrowed it down to one film, which my sister didn't know and I would have NEVER guessed in a million years, but I'm not here to blog about my niece's favorite film.

I initially wondered if I could ever pick just one of my favorite films to hold above all the others.  Then I wondered how my friends and family would respond to such a question about me.  Over the next week, my sister and I frequently discussed the topic.  I guessed her favorite film was The Terminator and she figured mine was Chuck & Buck.  I give her credit for at least choosing a film I actually enjoy, but she ended up being wrong.

During that week, I gave my favorite films some serious thought.  My gut immediately jumped to Desperate Living or Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but somehow this didn't ring completely true.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE these films and practically recite the dialogue as I watch them, and they are in my Top Ten.  I sorted through other favorites, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, CarrieWelcome to the Dollhouse and so many others, until one film illuminated my mind, with my sincerest apologies to John Waters.


I'm sure some of you are calling shenanigans on me because of my nearly scary obsession over other films, but I assure you this 1968 film is, hands down, my #1. 

From the brilliant screenplay to the superb acting to the skillful directing to the crafty music score, I watch Rosemary's Baby with a profound sense of awe, respect and admiration.  On top of all that, I am always thoroughly entertained, no matter my mood.  

Roman Polanski took Ira Levin's wickedly clever novel of modern day witches in New York City and masterfully wrote and directed an extremely faithful adaptation.  Sure, he dropped Guy's mom and Rosemary's little sabbatical, but what works in a book might slow a movie down to a crawl.  Polanski keeps the film simmering at a nice pace while the suspense slowly builds from within until it explodes when Rosemary finally discovers the truth about the neighbors and her baby.

Krzysztof Komeda's score is genius.  His music deftly celebrates the happy moments when Rosemary's life seems to be going well, but Komeda's music also fills the atmosphere with an off-kilter, creepy vibe whenever things start going very wrong.  The truly original soundtrack is worth listening to on its own!  

Finally, the acting.  The entire cast has such a natural feel with each of their performances that they should all be celebrated.  The acting, much like the plot, is low-key and creeps up on you.  Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer as Minnie and Roman Castevet are perfect in their "We're just a harmless, eccentric, wealthy old couple" routine that it's startling to find out they are witches.  Even more startling is they still essentially give off that "harmless-eccentric" vibe even after the horrific truth is revealed.

Then there is John Cassavetes as Guy Woodhouse.  He makes the audience believe that Guy truly loves Rosemary in the beginning of the film.  This makes it so much more heartbreaking and repugnant when he sells-out his wife for fame and fortune.  

Last, but far from least, there is Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse.  She illuminates every scene and never makes one false move with her performance.  Mia Farrow epitomizes the character and perfectly captures the innocence, the wit, the vulnerability and the strength of Rosemary Woodhouse.  Two other actresses have played this character on-screen, but Mia Farrow will always be the definitive Rosemary. 

There you have it, my absolute favorite film, which was released 50 years ago this month!  It's weird to have this knowledge, but it feels good to have the question finally answered.  Rosemary's Baby was delivered into my life on January 1, 1998 through a chance VHS rental and it blew my cinematic mind.  Plus, the film cemented my respect and admiration for Ira Levin, whom I already loved thanks to The Stepford Wives.  

So, gather the tannis root, stir up some chocolate mousse, and allow my absolute favorite film to cast its spell on you...

"Tannis, anyone?" 
Freak Out, 

P.S.  A review of what is most likely my second favorite film...


  1. Fabulous review John. Really keen to see it again after this wonderfully vivid review

    1. Thank you, Gill!
      I hope you enjoy it more the next time around