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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Reeler Pinch Hitter: Lauren Wissot on Roman Polanski's Foot Fetish

[Note: Reeler editor S.T. VanAirsdale is taking the week off, but the blog is in the good hands of trusted friends and colleagues; click here for other entries in the series. Lauren Wissot is the author of Under My Master’s Wings; visit her MySpace site here.]
“What’s up with the feet?” my fellow cinephile friend Roxanne and I wondered.
It had gotten to the point where they could no longer be ignored: Roman Polanski’s feet. No, not the director’s own two feet, but shot upon shot of those attached to names like Deneuve and Farrow, Mastroianni and Kingsley. Some of the greatest ankles and arches ever to grace the screen appear in loving close up or wary long shot in every film in this master’s oevure. It became a game with us: spot the foot shot. We could hardly wait for The Pianist to be released just for a possible glimpse of Adrien Brody’s bunions.
But that’s when it morphed into more than a sport; it became the concept for our very own short film. “Maybe if we recorded all the foot shots,” we thought, “and lined them up frame after frame, a hidden message would appear from the director-in-exile telling us what it all meant.” Eschewing gratuitous sex for gratuitous feet, we found Polanski engaging in no shortage of predictable camera ogling. Could innocent Mia Farrow ever have imagined that removing her shoes and stockings in Rosemary’s Baby would become a voyeur’s striptease? (And what would Frank have said?) What about Sigourney Weaver tucked away in the background of Death and the Maiden, her pretty feet distractingly propped up on a table nonetheless? And Emmanuelle Seigner receiving that foot massage on a park bench in Bitter Moon–come on! How did the MPAA miss that scene of public indecency?
To his credit, however, Polanski performs his most intriguing filmmaking with the gentlemen. Take for example:
–Marcello Mastroianni crushing a ping-pong ball with his foot in Che? (or Diary of Forbidden Dreams);
–Lionel Stander for allowing his feet to be set on fire in Cul-de-Sac;
–Peter Coyote for grabbing a dog’s foot while enjoying a blowjob in Bitter Moon.
Anyway, The Foot (or Un Piede di Roman Polanski) is an experimental meditation that Roxanne and I have been pursuing on-and-off for several years. Because neither of us have ongoing access to equipment, it’s been mostly off. So now we’re putting the call out to any editors interested in helping us to finally achieve our foot fetish dream. We still must collect a few stray toes from The Pianist, Oliver Twist and from the Criterion Collection DVD of Polanski shorts, sync up our Vicious Pink score and voila! Feet!
Interested in putting your best foot forward? Contact Lauren Wissot at laurenvile@yahoo.com or Roxanne Kapitsa at pinkbox@aol.com.

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One Response to “Reeler Pinch Hitter: Lauren Wissot on Roman Polanski's Foot Fetish”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon