Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Recommended by: Ayden The NinjaPirateBear
By far the best experience I have ever had watching a crime noir film.
"How much are you worth? ... I have no idea. How much do you want? ... I just wanna know what you're worth. More than 10 million? ... Oh my, yes! ... Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford? ... The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.
I remember watching Chinatown back in High School and thinking it was nothing special. But I was totally pulled into the groove of this LA mystery this time around all about murder, corruption, cover-ups, and most importantly who controls the water ... right? At the core of the story there is the iconic Jack Nicholson in one of my new favorite roles of his, as he plays a private eye who doesn't let a cut nose keep him from discovering the truth.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
(Quick Hits) ... Spoilers:
- This movie just oozes with that classic noir feel, that all starts with those opening credits with that gorgeous trumpet music ... which I am partial to since I am a trumpet player
- I think a key element that pulled me into the investigation is how dynamic the cinematography is as we watch Nicholson's character J.J. Gittes tail Mulwray around town. Including an awesome shot of Mulwray's reflection in the lens of a camera, lots of cool rear-view mirror shots, and that moment where the camera moves backward as Gittes talks to the police when they discover Mulwray's body ... just to name a few
"There's no time to be shocked by the truth. The coroner's report proves that he had salt water in his lungs when he was killed."
- How could you not love all the suits, hats, and cars of this era in late 30s Los Angeles
- That's a hell of a cameo Director Roman Polanski has being the nose cutter thug ... ouch! Which leads to those unforgettable bandages on Gittes' nose for much of the rest of the story
- More ways you know you are watching a noir movie include offices with glass on the doors with lettering on them, and plenty of smoking
- Despite the water scandal only being a distraction subplot (aka a Red Herring) in the investigation, it's still really interesting to hear about. Compared to most noir stories that are purposely meandering and confusing for some reason. Plus Gittes determination and snarky attitude makes it so interesting to see what he will get into next
- Damn, check out the amazing use of shadows in scenes like Gittes and Mrs. Mulwray talking in the car, after he discovers her daughter who was being hidden away
- I have been trying to figure out what makes Faye Dunaway's performance so great in this, and I think it is the nervous tension she conveys, knowing that Gittes is inching closer and closer to finding out her tragic secret. Then it is so heartbreaking when Gittes lashes out at her while she tries to find the words to explain the truth that her daughter is also her sister, which feels especially messed up and elevates the mystery that much more
- You can't help but think about 'Rocky' when Burt Young shows up in a movie
- What a great touch to have the legendary Director John Huston be the villain Noah Cross
- It was fun to notice the similarities Chinatown has with 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit', and I look forward to watching 'Rango' again which also has references to this film
- Finally to the end where Mrs. Mulwray tries to get away from her father but is gunned down by the police. Leading to her father coming out on top and taking away his incestuous daughter. Jake is then urged to forget about this incident because they are in Chinatown, the place where scandals are allowed to happen and be swept under the rug, due to the corruption of those in power and the police
"Just get him the hell out of here. Jake, I’m doing you a favor."
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... Skål!