Friday, September 30, 2005

Chinatown

Film: Chinatown (1974)
Dir: Roman Polanski
Rating: **** out of 5 stars



Apparently this movie is highly praised for its "perfect" screenplay. I dislike that p-word, but it is quite good; however, I don't think it should overshadow Roman Polanski's direction and Jack Nicholson's performance, which really make Chinatown. Honorable mention also goes to John Huston (yes, the director) who effectively creeped me out with his performance.

If you haven't seen it, the film is a throwback to the 30s/40's detective genre. It follows a private eye Jake Gittis (Nicholson) who uncovers a conspiracy within the Los Angeles Water Department. Of course, he gets mixed up with a mysterious woman (Faye Dunaway) and finds himself in a lot of trouble with a lot of people.

The film has really smart, surprising plot twists which engage the audience so that they too feel like detectives. And the ending...you'll probably never see it coming. The dialogue is snappy, and effectively delivered by the always amazing Nicholson ("Where does he get those wonderful toys?!"...sorry, couldn't resist). At times, the water conspiracy plot gets a little confusing, even in the end when all is "revealed", so that I had a bit of a problem with. The character-based aspects of the script were pretty well-done, like Jake's stuggle with his past in Chinatown and his powerlessness to stop history from repeating itself.

Chinatown is a great contribution to the genre. It must have been especially difficult to capture the authenticity and nostalgia of a detective film in 1974, but Polanski pulled it off with flying colors (even if he is a child-molesting egomaniac, haha). It is not the kind of movie I would watch over and over, but the superior quality of the filmmaking cannot be denied.

In the end, I am left with one burning question: How in the hell did they do that nose-slicing effect? I HAVE TO KNOW!!!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Heather said...
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Rick said...

That nose slicing effect was pretty damn cool wasn't it? I think if you search the net enough you will find an answer to how it is done, I think it may even be in the trivia section on IMDB. I'll warn you though, once you know how it is done, the effect doesn't seem as cool anymore. It is simpler than it seems.