"Chinatown" is so good, it's scary. Jack Nicholson is Jake Gittes, the iconic private eye hired to spy on the husband of a woman who suspects he is having an affair. What Jake soon uncovers is a vast conspiracy involving local tycoons and water - heading towards a great conclusion with a classic surprise ending.
"Chinatown" might not be the best film noir ever made but it is certainly one of the best. Like "Indiana Jones" it is a loving homage to its source - in this case movies of the 1930s, 40s and 50s such as "The Maltese Falcon" (most obviously!) and lesser-known film noirs such as "D.O.A." (which no one else I've seen so far has mentioned in comparison to this, but it does have its similarities).
Nicholson is absolutely superb in his role, playing Jake with all the touch panache of an instant classic anti-hero. This was certainly a movie of the 1970s, with its anti-hero being the guy we come to root for.
Robert Towne is a genius and I may seem to be giving "Chinatown" loads of fanboy praise but I can honestly say that I'm not obsessed with it in any way, in fact I've only seen it a few times. But it's just a really, really great movie that's perfect in just about every way - direction, acting, screen writing, cinematography, editing, sound...the list is endless. Polanski deserves as much praise as Towne I suppose, because his direction is flawless and very noir-ish. (If that's a suitable description.)
Overall, this is a classic - for good reason. After seeing this and "L.A. Confidential" within a few days I can say with confidence that "Chinatown" is much better, and will probably be more fondly remembered years from now.
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