Sunday 21 November 2004

Chinatown (1974) - ickleReview (cinema)

A late film noir by director Roman Polanski, who in this film has a cameo role where he puts a flick knife up Jack Nicholson's nose and cuts his nostril open, so that Wacko Jacko has to spend the rest of the film with a rediculous bandage on his schnozzle.

It's a hot summer in LA. Water levels are low. Private snoop Jake Gittes (Nicholson) is hired by a distressed wife to expose her husband, whom she insists is having an affair. It turns out he works for the city water board and that not everything is as it first seemed. A great script continually flashes "wrong way" signs, just after it has assured you that this was the diversion to get round the traffic jam. We see things from Gittes's perspective - we feel how he is cut out of the loop and lied to repeatedly by his clients.

There are some odd moments in this film, like when Faye Dunaway rests her head on the steering wheel of her car, accidentally tooting the horn: some odd laughs, that may have been outtakes that were left in, or deliberate jibes by Polanski.

Nugget: shows real affection for an old genre, in which Wilder and Welles used to excel - but arguably does it better. A pleasure to see it for the first time on the big screen, even if the print was ageing and the projectionist fiddled with the focus for the first fifteen minutes.

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