Chinatown ★★★★½

[84]

[Needs updated review.]

“The greatest screenplay of all time!” they’ll tell you. I’m not personally qualified to make such all-encompassing statements, but I wouldn’t doubt that this’d end up somewhere near the comprehensive top. Back when I first caught the cinephilia bug, I read an in-depth analysis of the film (which frequently made ties to the screenplay), scene by scene, and it kind of blew me away how many small details barely bulge early to eventually blossom—things that escaped my tiny mind completely. Everything is constructed with a purpose, with care, with the intention of some pay-off, no matter how small or large. And of course there’s the utter grimness of the thing, and just when you think it can’t be that ugly, it gets uglier, right down to the final shot which has become something of a benchmark for bleak movie finishes. “The bad guys win and the good guys die,” they say.

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