• Chinatown
    2 minutes 40 seconds
    Added: May 9, 2008


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Chinatown Reviews

Page 2 of 250
Alex A
December 7, 2013
Serene, crisp cinematography, excellent lead performance from Nicholson, period piece authenticity and highly intricate screenplay, Chinatown is essentially the epitome of a non-action-driven film noir. Unfortunately the movie dragged an awful lot, I didn't feel attached to any of the characters, it lacked intensity for me and the story wasn't interesting enough to keep me engaged. Sure it's a classic, but aside from the cinematography, acting and visual beauty, Chinatown failed to impress me as a whole.
April 16, 2014
26/30 I know the ending is an integral part of the film, but I just wanted something less depressing.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

August 28, 2007
"Chinatown" is relentlessly pessimistic, and not just in the ending . . . its probably the definitive Neo-Noir. We should all be grateful Polanski forcibly altered the finale to what it is now because anything else would be unacceptable.
Felix B.
April 14, 2014
A film that gets better with every viewing, and showcases the talents of everybody involved.
April 13, 2014
While it has an interesting story, Jack Nicholson's charisma is the main thing that subverts Chinatown's ridiculously boring pacing.
April 12, 2014
Chinatown is a film noir staring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway by the great Roman Polanski, and although the film is very good it has flaws. The story is intricate and dark taking twists and turns all the way up until the end, and it is very effective at having the audience figure it out as Nicholson does. Each of the performances are great from Nicholson as the private detective with a past, to Dunaway as a suspicious Femme Fatale, and Zwerling as a powerful robber baron controlling L.A.'s water supply. The principal problem the film has is that it lacks drive, and in a movie that's a good 20 minutes longer than it could have been that can be fatal. It all builds to a final sequence of events that holds the film together and makes the run time worth it. 3.5/5
April 12, 2014
A simply flawless film. Roman Polanski's 'Chinatown' is a neo-noir classic that has Jack Nicholson starring as Jack Gittes in one of his all-time greatest performances. Over the past few years I have grown accustomed to the period-drama / crime genre and it has slowly become one of my favourite areas of film. Set in Los Angeles, Polanski does one thing, he makes the city look glourious, whilst contrasting it with the dark and morbid story. Had it not been for 'The Godfather: Part II', 'Chinatown' would have probably taken home nearly every Oscar it was nominated for. It is an intolerable and cynical film with a beautiful jazz soundtrack from Jerry Goldsmith and one of the greatest screenplays to ever have been written from Robert Towne. An undisputed and unforgettable masterpiece.
April 10, 2014
Chinatown draws on a wealth of film noir influences in its visual and stylistic flourishes to create the neo-noir, but it does so, perhaps most obviously, in its sparse jazz score composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who brings the film noir into the 20th century with modern instrumental updates and unsettling, experimental sections. A masterpiece on all accounts.
December 12, 2007
Boasted by beautiful cinematography and fantastic acting, Polanski's classic neo-noir is a staple in the American cinematic progression of the 70s and certainly a stronghold as one of the decade's most recognizable works. Although it does at times uncomfortably showcase misogyny and implied abuse without any real consequences, it still a classic and a must see film for all movie lovers.
March 27, 2014
Dark themes laden with cynical humor, a twisted, intricately constructed plot set under a brilliant screenplay, career best direction from Roman Polanski and a star making performance from Jack Nicholson, nothing is as it seems in Chinatown, which has retained every ounce of the suspense, tension, and shock value that has solidified its standing as a noir classic after forty years.
November 1, 2007
Thanks to its twisting plot and surprise ending, "Chinatown" is probably the best noir to be made after the noir era.
March 12, 2014
Chinatown is a fun homage to classic noir films with a whack-a-doodle climax. Jack Nicholson is no Bogart, but he is his own fox-ish sneak of a detective that brings the fun quality. Once his detective reaches the last half hour, the plot becomes full of a dark twistiness that successfully progresses it ahead of the other films of the genre.
March 3, 2014
nicholson carries it well.
August 9, 2012
This neo-noir is simply the definition of what a mystery is supposed to be. Faye Dunaway and John Huston offer career best performances themselves, along with one of many great performances from Jack. But, nothing about this movie overshadows the screenplay. It's construction is amazing, the dialogue is so fitting and powerful. The movie takes you on a thrill ride, and ends with a haunting conclusion that stays with you.
January 15, 2012
A masterpiece of noir cinema.
February 14, 2014
An engrossing neo-noir tale which boasts Jack Nicholson at his finest. Just wish the ending was less bleak.
December 4, 2007
This movie was okay, sort of a Raymond Chandler vibe, but not quite as good. Plot is about, well, L.A., water rights, drought, and real estate stuff. I would have given this a lower rating, but the shocking revelation at the end, and the end itself, redeemed the rest of the film for me! And despite the title, I think only 6 minutes of the film are actually in Chinatown! But what a 6 minutes!
Brett C.
January 30, 2014
Chinatown is a film that I never admired or understood after watching it the first time, but perceptions can change during a second, or even a third viewing. I can't say this film is perfect because it does have it's shortcomings. Expectations were high the first time I watched this, due to it being handled by a praised director and that the film is now regarded as a classic by many. It is difficult to say negative things towards a film that is universally loved, but I don't believe in hiding my true feelings towards something and just go along with everyone else. I may be coming off, soundling like I'm going to say that this film is awful but I'm not. I'm just trying to say that this film does have minor flaws and that an opinion is an opinion, and one shouldn't be nervous or repressed into showing it. Getting a bit off topic, anyways on to the review.

The film was written by Robert Towne. Other notable films he has worked on were Mission Impossible and Bonnie and Clyde. I cannot say Chinatown is his best work as this is the only film I have seen from him, but what I can say is that he has made quite a good script. The film's plot focuses on a detective working on a case that seems deeper than what he thinks. The film is full of story, Towne isn't afraid to give the audience such a complex tale and the audience has to give their full attention, because if one key information is missed, one might mistake it for being a plot hole. The film is full of plot twists and half-hearted stories that it isn't short of keeping us surprised. The film has achieved in having the audience in thinking they have finished the puzzle but only to be fooled. In my first viewing, I never was able to grasp why the film was called Chinatown and what the line at the end of the film meant, as very little of the film takes place at the location and is only mentioned a couple of times throughout the film. After repeated viewings, I now understood what Towne was trying to tell us. Chinatown is a representation of the horrors of being too overly involved and that sometimes it's just better to just let things lie. Chinatown is also a symbol of Gittes' past, and the horrible events that transpired during his time there. Towne never lets Gittes fully explain his experience there because the film allows it to be explained as the film goes on. The film overall is like a huge conspiracy that involves more than just career disputes and disagreements, as it also personal relationships. Towne has written a protagonist that is empathatic and likable. Gittes is a character that I see as just a regular guy who has involved himself in something deep that he now can't get out of, not because it is against his will but rather his own curiousity got the better of him. The film's dialogue was a delight as it takes inspirations from the hard-boiled dialogue from classic noir films while making it appropriate for the new style of cinema. Towne has also written the dialogue to make it sound like gossip that is being passed along from one person to another, as gossips in general are usually misleading and is executed in a way to get us hooked. My issue with Towne's screenplay is the story relating to the mystery of the water. I just never found it that interesting and the payoff wasn't all that great, but luckily Towne has provided us with a very exciting story about family drama.

Chinatown was the first time Roman Polanksi has ever been nominated for Best Director, and the first time for his film to be nominated for Best Picture. He doesn't win an Oscar for the former until his 2003 film, The Pianist. Chinatown had stiff competition that year, facing up against films like The Godfather Part 2, The Conversation and Lenny. I honestly felt that The Conversation should have won that year, but Chinatown was a close second in my book. Chinatown is a well directed film, as the director wanted the film to truly be a throwback to the days of noir films in the 40s and 50s but also instill the style that was found during the time of shooting. Though the movie feels stylish, it doesn't draw itself away from the film's plot which is still the main focus of the film. Polanski wanted the film's plot to be followed in the mindset and perspective of the protagonist in order for us to have this first hand experience of the plot unfolding and at the same time it allowing us to get in touch with the character, allowing us to feel empathetic to his actions and decisions. Polanski only allows us to hear what Jake hears and see what Jake sees. Polanksi has employed this style before on Rosemary's Baby. If Polanski allowed us to see the whole picture before the protagonist does, then this film would have failed completely in keeping the audience interested or invested. The film doesn't so much play with our emotions as it stays at a constant tone throughout, it's as if the film is telling us that things will just get worse from here. Chinatown is a talky film and Polanski seems to use it as a driving force in creating the mystery and developing our curiousity of what comes next. Polanski didn't need the film to be stuffed with gun play and action sequences to keep our attention, keeping this film very minimal. This approach was also similarly found on his previous film, Rosemary's Baby. I admire that Polanski wanted this film to move at a slow pace, as this allowed the audience to take in the information and giving us time to grasp on to it. Though there were a few times where the film was giving me so much plot, that I needed a little bit more time to kind of wrap my brain around it. The film's plot could be better understood with repeated viewings.

John Alonzo is the film's director of photography and he has worked on other notable films like Scarface and Harold and Maude. I truly enjoyed what he has done for those films, and judging from those and this film, it seems that he is a man who truly understands a director's vision. His films rarely looks the same, and this is because every director has a different vision on what their films would look like. Chinatown may be a period piece but Polanski never wanted the film to feel ultra stylish or pay too much homage to the look of the period, instead he wanted the photography to support the film's story. As Polanski has the film following the protagonist throughout the film, Alonzo has the camera following our character from behind kind of like we are investigating the case with him. Sometimes, Alonzo allows us to see things from Gitties' perspective like when he looks through the binoculars, subtly having the audience be put in his shoes. There are a few moments where Alonzo truly captures a time and place that has passed by us, by having the costumes and production design show off a sense of nostalgia.

The film's score was created by Jeff Goldsmith who has worked extensively on a large number of films, with some regarded as classics. Chinatown is one of those classics. Goldsmith's score in Chinatown is a nice throwback to the films during the height of the noir genre. The score creates this sensuality and sorrow due to the trumpets and piano. It truly creates a presence when it comes on. Polanski and Goldsmith has limited their use of the score though, only appearing in brief moments, casually not getting in the way of the dialogue. It is more used as a mood amplifier, in order for the scene to feel more than what it is.

The film's acting was great with Jack Nicholson giving a stand out performance. Nicholson was able to convey a man who is experienced in his profession and subtly carrying a sense of weight that seems to still haunt him. Faye Dunaway was great as Evelyn Mulwray. Dunaway, like Nicholson, plays off as someone who has a dirty past but she gives off more a sense of paranoia as if the walls were closing in on her. We can really see that there is more behind her words and her subtle reactions to certain moments or questions truly sells her acting. John Huston and Perry Lopez were also great in their supporting roles.

Chinatown's screenplay truly sells the film, even if I don't completely find every single detail of it very interesting. All the other components of the film are present to support the film's plot and overall they have done a wonderful job. I am torn whether I prefer this than Rosemary's Baby but even if the other fares better on me in the future, I still can't deny that this is a great film.
May 14, 2013
I have to admit that I didn't find this film all that great, it was just good.
January 13, 2012
Great noir. Must see. Jack at his best.
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