Chinatown (15)

Film

Film noir

Chinatown.jpg

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

The hard-boiled private eye coolly strolls a few steps ahead of the audience. The slapstick detective gets everything wrong and then pratfalls first over the finish line anyway. Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is neither - instead he's a hard-boiled private eye who gets everything wrong. Jake snaps tabloid-ready photos of an adulterous love nest that's no such thing. He spies a distressed young woman through a window and mistakes her for a hostage. He finds bifocals in a pond and calls them Exhibit A of marital murder, only the glasses don't belong to the victim and the wife hasn't killed anyone. Yet when he confronts ostensible black widow Evelyn Mulwray (Dunaway) with the spectacular evidence, the cigarette between his teeth lends his voice an authoritative Bogie hiss. Throughout, Gittes sexes up mediocre snooping with blithe arrogance and sarcastic machismo. It's the actor's default mode, sure, but in 1974 it hadn't yet calcified into Schtickolson, and in 1974 a director (Polanski), a screenwriter (Towne) and a producer (Evans) could decide to beat a genre senseless and dump it in the wilds of Greek tragedy. 'You see, Mr Gits,' depravity incarnate Noah Cross (Huston) famously explains, 'most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they're capable of anything.' As is Chinatown. The last gunshot here is the sound of the gate slamming on the Paramount lot of Evans' halcyon reign, and as the camera rears back to catch Jake's expression, the dolly lists and shivers - an almost imperceptible sob of grief and recognition, but not a tear is shed.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jan 4, 2013

Duration:

131 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
LiveReviews|9
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DoigtdePoisson

Some excellent Nicholson moments, however, I think, not up to the best Polanski standards. It becomes at some point really slow and unexciting, and the plot drowns into stereotypical film noir complexities without creating real intensity. Also, the movie unpleasantly contains, in my opinion, an element of outright anti-Asian racism with abundant cultural clichés, as well as complacency towards heavy-handed domestic violence against women, which – as much as child sex abuse practices apparently existent in supposedly-progressive circles of the time, ironically and tragically anticipated here three years before the well-known scandal – is not entirely forgivable by the genre or an otherwise refreshing un-PC 70s context. Perhaps out of moral dehydration, it seems that the movie has not aged very well, despite its superb restoration– although it might appeal to Polanski and Nicholson unconditional fans, and old-movie lovers in general, as a dry historical curiosity. A long drink for the show might be a good idea.

Peter Ludbrook

I loved this film when it was first released and it's good to see it so beautifully restored and back on the big screen. It has everything. A great scriot, a suitably convoluted plot, terrific characters very well acted, a great score, superb photography and Polanski's sure hand on the tiller. Interesting to discover that originally the film had a happy ending. The dark ending was Polanski's idea and a very good one it is. Much more appropriate. This is a movie to restore one's faith in cinema when confronted with some of the overrated dross currently on offer.

Peter Ludbrook

I loved this film when it was first released and it's good to see it so beautifully restored and back on the big screen. It has everything. A great scriot, a suitably convoluted plot, terrific characters very well acted, a great score, superb photography and Polanski's sure hand on the tiller. Interesting to discover that originally the film had a happy ending. The dark ending was Polanski's idea and a very good one it is. Much more appropriate. This is a movie to restore one's faith in cinema when confronted with some of the overrated dross currently on offer.

Ray

In my opinion the original reviewer wasnt a fan of Nicholson and this impinged on their enjoyment of the picture. In my opinion he is in early 70's Jack mode and me having the benefit of hindsight I would have to say its excellent to watch him consume Gettes with his fierce appetite. But in this perspective shall we look back in forty odd years about DiCaprio's showing in Shutter Island? its unlikely... Polanski was never better than this, no question...at the risk of sounding obvious check out Peter Biskind's piece about the film in his book Easy riders raging bulls, I read it again the other day and almost shed a tear for the lost days of Towne and his glorious indulgences. Five stars...six if they had them

Ray

In my opinion the original reviewer wasnt a fan of Nicholson and this impinged on their enjoyment of the picture. In my opinion he is in early 70's Jack mode and me having the benefit of hindsight I would have to say its excellent to watch him consume Gettes with his fierce appetite. But in this perspective shall we look back in forty odd years about DiCaprio's showing in Shutter Island? its unlikely... Polanski was never better than this, no question...at the risk of sounding obvious check out Peter Biskind's piece about the film in his book Easy riders raging bulls, I read it again the other day and almost shed a tear for the lost days of Towne and his glorious indulgences. Five stars...six if they had them

Jeff

About as perfect a screenplay as was ever made. 35 years after its release as a "sort of" Noir film, it now defines that genre's perfection. Every role is cast perfectly. Every scene concise and flawlessly positioned. With the soundtrack, you really feel like you're living in 1930's Los Angeles watching events unfold!

Jeff

About as perfect a screenplay as was ever made. 35 years after its release as a "sort of" Noir film, it now defines that genre's perfection. Every role is cast perfectly. Every scene concise and flawlessly positioned. With the soundtrack, you really feel like you're living in 1930's Los Angeles watching events unfold!