I had never seen Chinatown before last night, and damn I was missing out. I really love detective/investigation movies like this. Chinatown also wasn’t what I was expecting, but I welcomed the surprise. I really haven’t seen many Roman Polanski films either; just The Pianist, which is a classic. I really love how he films his scenes, with the camera following characters around almost like a documentary, simply observing the situations. Jack Nicholson, in his most ‘average Joe’ good-guy role I’ve seen him in in years, was great as J.J. Gittes. With a short temper, and a curiosity that gets him into a lot of trouble, I can understand why he makes a great, interesting main character. Don’t even get me started on Faye Dunaway in this movie. I know she’s a beloved and well known actress, but I haven’t seen her in anything before. That being said, I think I fell in love with her in the first or second scene.
The script for Chinatown was probably my favorite part about it. The dialogue is quick and witty, the characters interesting (and almost all have ulterior motivations) and the plot is filled with interesting turns. Movies that have a protagonist going up against something or someone much greater and powerful than themselves always work the best, and definitely in Chinatown. The fact that we don’t find out just what the extent of that antagonistic power is until the end reveal makes the story even more heartbreaking. The realization that no matter what J.J. really did, there are forces greater than him at work, and he was just a pawn in their plan.
Another thought I had while watching Chinatown, was one that I have a lot with these older movies. That this couldn’t have been made today. It makes me despondent to think that films like this can’t really be made during these times. Original stories, written by one guy with a singular vision of where he wants the story to go. You practically have to either make a low-budget indie film that gets coverage off word-of-mouth advertising and good reviews, or a big action tent-pole movie with recognizable characters you’ve seen in something else already. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Marvel movies and great indie gems, but I just wish we had some good stuff in the middle. I guess all of that is going to television though, with shows like Breaking Bad and Sherlock and whatnot. Anyway, now I’m just ranting. Stay tuned for the Day 9 flick, coming later on today since I’m running behind a day, and send me any movie suggestions you have!