Chinatown ★★★★½

Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.

Last year, I had the chance to watch this movie as extra credit in class, but I thought that I was too busy to watch anything. I did read the script however. It was a very interesting script and it was the first time that I ever read a script to a film before watching it. A year later, I am taking another class with the same professor that offers the film. This time, it was required and I finally got to watch the film. It is another classic from Hollywood. How well does it hold up?

A detective, Jake Gittes, is asked by a woman who goes by the name Evelyn Mulwray to check on her husband, Hollis, the chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Eventually, he meets the real Evelyn Mulwray and he learns that Hollis Mulwray was murdered. He sets out to find out what happened to him and what Evelyn had to do with her husband’s death. There is a lot that gets uncovered from there.

I think that one of the best things about Chinatown is the pacing of the film. It probably has the best pacing of any film that I have ever seen. It starts out pretty slow and calm, but as it progresses, it becomes faster and more tense and then it leads to a shocking climax. It is so smooth and it makes the story work so well. Nothing feels rushed and it never feels like it is dragging for even a minute. The pacing in this movie is perfect.

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are amazing as Gittes and Mulwray respectively. Nicholson is so charismatic and passionate here and Dunaway is just lovely. The dialogue is amazing, the script is sharp and the story is very engaging. There is a lot to invest in and the plot develops as well as the main characters who completely change personalities by the end of the film. It is a very compelling murder mystery it ends on one of the most shocking endings in cinema history. The characters are very fleshed out and interesting, though Jake does become really unlikable in one scene. 

The cinematography is so stunning. This film has many creative shots, including shots that face the side mirror, a love scene with a great contrast between light and shadows and many more scenes with stunning filming techniques. The lighting is perfect in most scenes. It shows a great contrast between light and dark colors. The cinematography helps build some mystery around the film. It makes the film seem creepier and more mysterious. This is a great film to watch just to appreciate the cinematography alone.

Chinatown is fantastic. It earned its spot in the history of film and as one of the best movies ever. I will not debate what the film has accomplished. It is just damn good. It is very enjoyable no matter what perspective you watch it from and where you begin at the story. Definitely check it out, but go in knowing as little as possible.

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