Chinatown and Repulsion on menu at BFI's Polanski season

The BFI revisits the chilling, compelling classics of controversial film-maker Roman Polanski

LAST UPDATED AT 08:42 ON Fri 4 Jan 2013

What you need to know
BFI Southbank is presenting a retrospective of the work of the controversial but critically acclaimed filmmaker Roman Polanski, including screenings of Chinatown and Repulsion.

Polanski's noirish classic Chinatown stars Jack Nicholson (pictured above) as a detective who becomes dangerously emotionally entangled with his client (Faye Dunaway) in corrupt 1930s LA. Repulsion, starring Catherine Deneuve, is a psychological horror story about a woman's pathological terror of men and sex.

The retrospective also features Knife in the Water and Rosemary's Baby among other Polanski works. The season runs until 31
January. Check the BFI website for screening times.

What the critics like
Chinatown is "a never-bettered noir masterpiece", says Rob Fraser on Empire. All the finest staples of the gumshoe traditio are present with the added cynicism and disillusionment of the Watergate/Vietnam era. "A timeless classic."

Still Polanski's "most perfectly realised film", Repulsion is a stunning portrait of emotional disintegration, says Time Out. It is "one of the most intelligent horror movies ever made" and one of the most "frighteningly effective".

Time has not dulled the impact of Polanski's expertly crafted masterpiece, Repulsion, says Craig Williams on Cine-Vue. It remains "a deeply terrifying vision" of everyday madness, but also a chilly indictment of the permissiveness of 1960s London.

What they don't like
The BFI's retrospective cannot shift attention from the grim facts of Polanski's life (the Kraków ghetto, Manson, statutory rape), says Leo Robson in The Guardian. His work is steeped in cruelty and domination, "a vision of men as cold-blooded and women as cold-hearted". · 

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