Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mystery #2 - Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown is very dark movie. It is film noir at its noir-est. It’s actually neo-noir, because it’s from the seventies, but it’s a lot darker even then The Third Man. It’s a Jack Nicholson movie – He’s a detective, and he’s investigating the disappearance of water in California. There's a theme running through the whole movie that Chinatown, which is where everyone used to work, is a place of lawlessness and brutalness and no rules. It's a bad place. The whole point of the movie is that everywhere is Chinatown. The world is Chinatown. "Forget it, audience," says the movie. "It's Chinatown." It is very dark.

Chinatown is undoubtedly a good movie. It takes common old film noir elements, and it subverts them, and plays on the audience's expectations, and use them to create a movie that is even more twisted and depressing than film noir usually is. I mean, this movie leaves The Third Man in the dust on the darkness scale, even without Orson Welles. Chinatown does have Jack Nicholson, though, and I've said that before, and I will say it again: There is no one scarier than Jack Nicholson. And he's terrific in this movie - this is before he started doing that sneer-y thing, so he looks totally different than usual.

I was definitely entertained while watching the movie, but it hasn't really stuck with me. When I think back at it, I like the mood, but I almost never think about it. I think of a lot of the other movies I've watched almost constantly. Chinatown just hasn't made an impression on me. Good imagery, though - The nose-bandage will really stick with me.

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