Before he became infamous for his horrific crime, director Roman Polanski made an infamous, horrific film still considered a classic today.
"Rosemary's Baby," the 1968 satanic chiller about a naive New York City housewife with some seriously disturbed neighbors, is a masterclass in suggestion and rising tension and features a perfectly obtuse performance by Mia Farrow. (Hmm, she knows a thing or two about infamous directors, doesn't she?)
Farrow's sensibilities are about a million miles from those of Zoe Saldana, the sci-fi blockbuster actress who takes over the title role in NBC's "Rosemary's Baby" two-part miniseries, which begins at 8 p.m. Sunday and concludes Thursday.
Nothing in Saldana's filmography -- which includes star-making turns in "Avatar" and the recent "Star Trek" films -- suggests she is the right choice for Rosemary Woodhouse, which means we're in for a big departure for her or a big departure from the source material.
The latter would be more interesting; "Rosemary's Baby" is as memorable as horror movies come, and a new twist on it would be welcome. The setting is new -- Paris instead of New York -- and a story about the dream of motherhood that becomes an unholy nightmare might benefit from a female director's point of view. That POV is provided by Agnieszka Holland, who directed a lush adaptation of "The Secret Garden" in 1993 and Leonardo DiCaprio's "Total Eclipse" before helming episodes of "The Wire," "Treme" and "The Killing."
In any case, a two-night miniseries, previously a staple of the major networks, is such a rare event nowadays that "Rosemary's Baby" demands our attention. It'll be an interesting Mother's Day gift, that's for sure.
What a gift: Speaking of Mother's Day gifts, our last-minute suggestions in this week's Time out! reminded me of the all-time worst gift I gave to my own mother.
My mom, Bonnie, is a huge Stephen King fan and has literally everything he has ever written. She's a movie buff, too, so naturally I grew up watching stuff I shouldn't have, like "Creepshow" and "The Running Man."
Keeping these two things in mind, I headed out to Best Buy in search of a Mother's Day gift in 1996 and settled on a widescreen VHS copy of "Dolores Claiborne," a solid adaptation of a King novel starring Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh ... as an estranged mother and daughter whose family was torn apart by physical and sexual violence.
Truly, a lovely gift. I really wish I had read the Daily Herald that day.
I'm just a little smarter now than I was then, so I'm gonna take Mom to her favorite restaurant this weekend and maybe get her a Walt Disney World gift card for the big trip in November. (It runs in the family, this nerdiness.)
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.