Chinatown

"Extraordinary"

Chinatown Review


I do my homework. All right. So I don't always do my homework, but when it comes to film critiquing, I'm pretty good at doing my homework. So, since The Ninth Gate is being released later this week, I figured I should check out the Chinatown DVD, in order to get background on Roman Polanski's career.

Ain't homework painful?

It wasn't that Chinatown was a bad movie. In fact, by whatever textbook I use, Chinatown is a great film. It has an involved plot, interesting characters, steely direction, and on-the-mark acting. It has every possible reason I could have to like this movie, except the X factor. In algebra, X represents the unknown. In cinema, X serves the same basic purpose. X is the combination of all other factors affecting your cinematic enjoyment. X can be good, as in the form of a girlfriend watching I Still Know What You Did Last Summer with you. Or X can be bad, as in the case of Chinatown, where I was incredibly drowsy while I watched the film and the slow pace of the movie didn't help my condition.

Chinatown, for all of its cinematic genius and for all of the incredible scriptwriting that the film has, was unable to truly grab me. It was unable to suck me in, and, if a film can't do that, than you're in trouble.

Chinatown is the Byzantine mystery concerning the death of Water Commissioner Hollis Mulwray. Said death comes shortly after Private Detective J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) uncovers some pictures of Hollis in flagrante delicto with a young woman. Now Gittes was hired by someone other than Hollis' wife (Faye Dunaway), and, when this comes to light and Hollis is found dead in a reservoir, Gittes has some digging to do.

By the textbook, the film is perfect. However, keep in mind that the textbooks on the subject of cinematic perfection were mostly written in admiration of such films as Chinatown and Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane actually was great to watch, where as Chinatown was not.

The reason that I did not enjoy Chinatown probably does not have so much to do with it being a bad film but with it not living up to my expectations. Chinatown is that film that you have heard, all through your life, is great. Yet when one confronts it, one feels disappointed. My advice, quite frankly, is to rent L.A. Confidential instead of watching Chinatown. If, however, you insist upon watching Chinatown, then make sure you expect it to be bad... then you'll enjoy it. If you expect the world, you'll end up like me.

[Editor's note: In the opinion of this critic, Mr. Brundage must be on crack. -CN]



Chinatown

Facts and Figures

Run time: 130 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 20th June 1974

Box Office Worldwide: $29.2M

Budget: $3.2M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Penthouse, Long Road Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Fresh: 60 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Jake Gittes, as Evelyn Cross Mulwray, as Noah Cross, as Lieutenant Lou Escobar, as Russ Yelburton, as Hollis I. Mulwray, as Ida Sessions, as Claude Mulvihill, as Man with Knife, Richard Bakalyan as Detective Loach, as Duffy, as Walsh, Nandu Hinds as Sophie, James O'Rear as Lawyer, as Evelyn's Butler, Beulah Quo as Maid, Jerry Fujikawa as Gardener, Belinda Palmer as Katherine, as Mayor Bagby, as Councilman, Elliott Montgomery as Councilman, Rance Howard as Irate Farmer, George Justin as Barber, C.O. Erickson as Customer, Fritzi Burr as Mulwray's Secretary, Charles Knapp as Mortician, Claudio Martinez as Boy on Horseback, Federico Roberto as Cross' Butler, Allan Warnick as Clerk, John Holland as Farmer in the Valley, as Farmer in the Valley, as Curly, Jim Burk as Farmer in the Valley, Denny Arnold as Farmer in the Valley, Elizabeth Harding as Curly's Wife, as Mr. Palmer, Cecil Elliott as Emma Dill, Paul Jenkins as Policeman, Lee de Broux as Policeman, Bob Golden as Policeman, Richard Warren as Driver (uncredited)

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

Advertisement
England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.