Archive for chinatown

Chinatown (1974)

Posted in Dailies with tags , , , on March 19, 2009 by leclisse

Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray

I don’t get tough with anyone, Mr. Gittes.  My lawyer does.

This was my second attempt to watch Roman Polanski’s neo-noir classic, Chinatown.  The first time was several months ago, late at night, so I was fighting to keep awake.  I’m just not much of a nighttime person.  This second viewing was far more successful, needless to say.

I liked this movie, but there was something that bothered me about it.  I still can’t quite put my finger on it.  The closest I can come to it is Polanski’s direction.  I’ve always heard of this film being touted as his homage to the great noir films of the 1940’s and 50’s, but it lacked several elements of those films.  The fact that it was filmed in Technicolor does not detract from its bid for “crime drama” status.  If anything, it separates it from a mere rehash of the decades-old crime formula.  It just seemed like the film lacked a certain heaviness that is so essential to noir.  The camera angles were too jerky in some places, as well, which disrupted (to some extent) the intensity of the story.

Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson were, as always, in top form.  As Jake Gittes, Nicholson was a perfect blend of cynicism and a slightly vulgar humor to prevent him from internalizing the terrible nature of his work.  I have an unabashed love for Faye Dunaway simply because she is an unapologetic badass.  She is never afraid to imbue her characters with a certain vulnerability, but is always careful to keep this side concealed or in check.

Forget it, Jake.  It’s Chinatown.

And why is “Man with Knife” listed so prominently in the ending credits?  It was a two-minute scene.  Get over yourself, Polanski.