MOVIE REIVEW: “Chinatown” stars Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining), Faye Dunaway (Network, Bonnie and Clyde ), John Huston (The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), Perry Lopez (Kelly’s Heroes, Mister Roberts), John Hillerman (Blazing Saddles, Paper Moon), James Hong (Kung Fu Panda, Blade Runner), Roy Jensen (Soylent Green, Every Which Way But Loose), Diane Ladd (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Wild at Heart), and Roman Polanski (The Tenant, The Revenge). It is directed by Roman Polanski (The Pianist, Rosemary’s Baby) and is written by Robert Towne (Mission: Impossible , Days of Thunder). Set in Los Angeles in 1937, a private detective by the name of Jake Gittes (Nicholson) is hired by the wife of the city’s water supply system builder to investigate her husband as she expects him to be in a secret affair. Once Jake takes the case, however, it sends him on a dangerous path which opens up an even bigger scope of what is really going on with the city’s water.
“Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown.” I bought this film a couple of months ago on blu-ray steelbook and because of my very small amount of free time, I have never gotten around to watch it. This movie has been considered a classic, and being a picture starring Jack Nicholson, an actor whose work I have grown fond of recently, I had to get it. And I gotta say, this movie was amazing. To start my breakdown of this flick, I wanted to bring up something I read in a review for this recently. The reviewer said that if you haven’t seen this movie, you aren’t a movie buff. I don’t know why I brought that up, but I felt like I had to because in a way, you really aren’t a film buff if you haven’t seen this. That’s because of how much of a classic it is. The first thing that is great about this movie is the storyline. I don’t watch many noir films, but this was phenomenal. I loved the mystery and seeing Jack Nicholson’s character Jake Gittes piece things together. I’m a mystery lover so this definitely appealed to me. The subject of this murder mystery was interesting, being centered around a man who owns the water distribution company in Los Angeles, which is in a serious drought. With water you have power. The deception in this movie and how Jake treads water throughout the whole thing makes it an intense watch and also makes it all the more greater with witty dialogue and great tension. Something that does this picture justice is its setting. Being set in 1937 brings life to Los Angeles. The cars, the clothing, the Jazz (which was a great musical score). All of these elements make for beautiful cinematography, and like I said in other reviews, I’m a fan of period pieces. I picked apart this film with the directing because it has to be some of the best out there. One shot I loved was when Jake was driving through an orange grove and the camera was placed behind him in the back seats It was a terrific shot. With the directing came magnificent acting. Jack Nicholson never fails to impress, and his role felt like it was made for him. Technically it was, because I watched the bonus features and the writer, Robert Towne, wrote the character around Jack’s personality. It worked great. The supporting cast also did fantastic, and Faye Dunaway performed beautifully. The drama that surrounded her and how she tackled situations with a strong will made her character pop. I also liked how the director, Roman Polanski, inserted himself into a role in the film, playing a very minor character. When there was action in this, it was choreographed greatly, but there wasn’t much so when there was, it sunk in deep, especially the ending. There’s so many amazing things about this movie that prove it to be a classic. It has a lot going for it and it is filled with so much substance. They take their time as well, and that is what can lead me into my main con: it can tend to drag. It is a two-hour and ten minute long film, and although I enjoyed the mystery and tension, some scenes can slow down in pace. Mainly when the picture reached the second act. That’s pretty much my only known strife. When it comes to the ending, that’s where the war of opinions can commence. I won’t say what happened, because I don’t want to spoil a terrific film like this, but there are a lot of twists in this movie towards the end. All of them caught me off guard and I enjoyed it. The ending however, is a different situation. I can’t tell you how shocked I was. It hit me in the face and I’m still reeling from what happened. When I first saw it, I was teetering towards frustration. But after I thought about it thoroughly, I began to understand. I also took it upon myself to consider how original it was. No one would have ever guessed. In the bonus features, Roman Polanski, Robert Towne, and Robert Evans (the producer) argued over how it would end. There were actually two endings in mind. Because they couldn’t figure out a solution in time, Roman went onto shooting the film without the ending written down. Once they began enclosing on the ending, Roman went along with the idea he had in mind, creating over a half a page of dialogue that wasn’t there. After seeing it, Robert Towne couldn’t have agreed more. It was something unexpected, and gave the film more of a punch. That is why I liked it more than disliked it, and that is why it is eye-opening. There aren’t really any other major issues I found in this film. Overall, this movie is a classic that I will cherish, and I implore everyone who is the right age to give it a try! FINAL SCORE: 96%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer: