Jun 15, 2012

Chinatown [1974]



Chinatown is a 1974 classic directed by Roman Polanski and written by Robert Towne, about a private investigator (Jack Nicholson) who stumbles upon a very important fraud case after a seemingly simple job.

A woman hires Gittes to see if her husband, Hollis Mulwray, who happens to have a key position in the water department of Los Angeles, is cheating. Turns out he was, but the lady who ordered the job was not actually the wife. Here's where the lovely Faye Dunaway comes in, in a great chinaman joke scene. The case complicates after the husband turns up dead, and so a whole conspiracy unfolds regarding the water supply to the city, all whilst shocking dark secrets of the woman's family threaten  the life of Evelyn Mulwray and the people around her.

Chinatown is a very good film that stands out mostly because of his intricate, always intriguing screenplay (which won a lot of awards back in the day). The story is complex, the characters are cool, reserved and with a touch of mistery, and the visuals are sometimes breathtaking- it drives you in and demands your attention. On the one hand, I liked the script and there were some scenes that stood out for me- for example, the after sex bed scene- their conversation, the way they look at each other, their attitude, everything was so sultry and appealing. On the other hand, I didn't find it to be particularly fantastic, although I know it has been praised by many. What I did like and what was the high point in my perspective, at least,was Roman Polanski's direction style. It is simple, classic, but quite sleek and visually beautiful, highlighting the cinematography and the production design in a great way. 

The cast was strong and of course both leads stole the show; Faye Dunaway, as Evelyn Mulwray, was stunning- the true incarnation of classic beauty, effortless charm, with  the same poise and style as icons like Audrey Hepburn or Katharine Hepburn. She was probably one of the last starlets of Hollywood- from the late 70s, early 80s everything changed. Her chemistry with Jack Nicholson was palpable, intense and believable. He was also sensational in this role- he is, after all, one of the greatest actors ever. Somehow, he reminds me of Leonardo DiCaprio, or maybe it's better to say DiCaprio reminds me of Nicholson. Either way, there is something special about Nicholson and I noticed that every time he comes on screen- it can be the attitude, or the charm, but it's definitely the talent that is always pushing him on top. 

Chinatown is an intriguing story that constantly reveals new dark secrets about the LA world, featuring two great performances and a complex storyline. I recommend it, you should definitely find time to see it! 

24 comments:

  1. Great look at this neo-noir classic, Diana. And it's why I picked it #1 in the Mystery genre for the series I've going. Enjoyed reading your review. Thanks for this.

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    1. Thank you for dropping by and commenting! Good luck with your series!

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  2. "Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown" - one of the most epic lines ever spoken in a film, ever! I'd just seen Chinatown when we had to start a uni project, and I wanted to model our main character after Faye Dunaway (in the end we went with a french actress from the New Wave, but I was oh so close!). Glad you liked this one :D

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    1. Call me crazy, but I wouldn't have thought of naming this movie Chinatown- I mean, just for one scene at the end? And yes, Faye Dunaway <3

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  3. Oh, Faye Dunaway. Her work here, in Network and in Bonnie & Clyde is truly inspiring. Such a beauty too. I really liked this film, it's perfect film noir which really shows the nature of evil and the futility of fighting with it. Fantastic ending too.

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    1. The ending was a little bit shocking...I was expecting something different! It was a bit abrupt to me, but I really liked it overall

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  4. This is a great movie. I think part of its initial appeal also stemmed from the fact that it was a fictional version of real events (the annexing of a valley so L.A. would have water), which probably made many wonder just how shady the actual events were.

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    1. I didn't knew it was based on real events, thanks!

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    2. Well, I believe it was based on real events in the same way the movie Titanic was - a wholly fictional story set against a real event.

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  5. Awesome review for an awesome movie Diana. I had no idea what to expect next from this flick and I think that just goes to show you how great of a director Polanski is. Nicholson is also great but it's Polanski's tense hand that keeps things going and kept me watching the whole time.

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    1. I completely agree, Polanski's work definitely sealed the deal for me! Thanks!

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  6. Unfortunately, this film was spoiled for me because I partially knew its plot, but I still liked it a lot. The two leads are indeed great, but among them, it's Faye who stands out in my opinion.

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    1. Yeah, that happens to me,too- I don't like watching movies I already know the ending, but sometimes I am too curious!

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  7. This is one of those 'classics' I still need to check out. Based on your review and Le0pard's Neo-Noir series, clearly this one is a must-see.

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    1. Yes, it is, you should try it sometimes!

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  8. Still have yet to see this film and am shamed by the fact that my older brother (not a movie authority in the slightest) has!

    Thanks for the reminder Diana

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    1. It's fine, it's not a big tragedy, there are other films that should be seen before this one :) I do hope you enjoy it!

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  9. I wish more people made film noir movies after 1970. I feel like the quickly became a rarity and of the ones that have been made, Chinatown is one of a small few that are brilliant. I love watching this movie over and over again. It is absolutely perfect! I am not a huge Faye Dunaway fan, but this is my favorite role of hers and Jack is ideal in a role that I would not have picked for him, but I sure am glad he picked it! Thanks for the thoughts.

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    1. Thank you, I am glad you liked my review! You can watch it over and over again? I couldn't, but I understand, I do the same with other films, too

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  10. How about that ending, huh? Polanski really knows how to make them. When he's on, he's on. Nice review Diana!

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    1. Thanks Alex! The ending was...a little unsatisfying for me, but great nonetheless!

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    2. Unsatisfying?! GAH! It's one of my favorite movie endings ever. John Huston Is. A. Snake!

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  11. This is a fantastic film. One of my favourite Nicholson roles, and I'd say Polanski's best from my experience. It actually took me a couple of viewings to appreciate, but the complexity of the screenplay displays astounding writing, and it is so immersive. Plenty of standout scenes, and the unforgettable ending is a classic in cinema.

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    1. The script was very good, but as I said before, the ending for me was... insufficient! or maybe that is why it's so good...I don't know!

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