I didn't enjoy this film as much as the rating should seem to indicate. They make so many movies out in California with California settings and California people, and I don't relate to the West Coast thing. It's that laid back vibe that I hate. And all the phoniness. "Forget it, Jake" just typifies the whole attitude.
A real corker of noir sensibilities that tips its hat to its Chandler-esque antecedents but opens up in a way that earlier films could only hint at. It has a wonderful zig-zagging, staccato texture of half-finished sentences, interruptions and unexplained details that make up an almost complete jigsaw. The downbeat ending provides an appropriate coda. A stylish assemblage of decidedly unstylish elements.
Can you separate the art from the artist? Polanski's notoriety echoes the likes of Woody Allen; two visionaries accused of abhorrent crimes and misdemeanours. The critic must have objectivity, making sure that cultural baggage regarding the creator does not tamper the evaluation of a pre-existing art. For all the controversies surrounding Polanski that should be evaluated separately, this is a masterful noir.
Currently re-watching this - in HD for the first time. The production design, the costumes, obviously the casting, the score, the writing, the editing. Everything about it is stellar. Is this the best film made by Paramount? By Hollywood?
With Chinatown, Roman Polanski deftly toes the line between art-house and the American mainstream. The setting in 1930s Los Angeles is irresistible and Jack Nicholson is marvelous as the hardboiled private eye.