Chinatown ★★★★★

N.B. This review is not intended to be taken as any kind of apology for, or endorsement of, director Roman Polanski as a human being.

Considering the fact that it is one of the most acclaimed films of all time, Chinatown is, at heart, a relatively old-fashioned, even conventional neo-noir detective story. At the same time, every aspect of it - plot construction, acting, dialogue, period details, cinematography, music and sound effects - comes together in a truly top-notch fashion.

While the pacing is rather slow, many seemingly insignificant details prove to be crucial down the line. When the scenes of violence and dramatic revelations do come, they manage to be genuinely shocking.

It’s dark stuff but doesn’t forget to work in a wicked sense of fun at times, mostly due to the sheer level of mischievous wit and ingenuity on the part of our hero, detective J.J. Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson). Who else could disguise ripping out a page from an archive book with a well-placed cough?

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