Sunday, 9 August 2015

Blind Spot - Chinatown

 The only things I knew about Chinatown was who is starred, who it was directed by, the famous last line in the film and that Jack Nicholson wears a bandage on his nose at some point. I went in with an open mind but knowing it was a sort of film noir piece.

The film was not what I expected but oh what a delicious and od conspiracy mixed with family drama and secrets where everyone's husband and wife is cheating on them. Step into the world of Private Detectives where they're the ones 'earning an honest living' as opposed to the those who work at a bank or at city water company.

I've always been a fan of murder mysteries, P.I characters and Film Noir and this, is just all rolled into one. Jack Nicholson is the private investigator, Jake Gitties, at first just on a run of the mill cheating husband job until it turns into a murder case, blackmail and conspiracy. He thinks he's been hired by Mrs Mulwray, wife of head engineer of the LA water company that is refusing to bulid another dam in order to channel water to the people of the city. They've been told they're in the middle of a drought. Anyway, when he finds the husband cheating, its front page news and then the real Mrs Mulwray, Faye Dunaway comes forward. Soon after her husband is found, murdered. From there it becomes little difficult to explain because there are several strands of of the story and other characters are introduced.

There are some spectacular shots, like the ones above but its the close up shots that really capture the  uneasy feelings, lies and doubt from everyone. I've been calling the film, Film Noir but its Neo-Noir, but it ticks all the boxes of that genre.

Along the way, nasty characters are introduced and those who seem pleasant or just want to do the right thing are actually the snakes in the grass. Nicholson has never been better, in fact I think this is my favourite that I've seen him in. He is no charmer but he gets answers that others would have to beg for and apart from an injury to his nose and being beaten up by some orange farmers, he does all the action in a damn suit and comes up relatively clean. The character seems to go above and beyond to find the truth but not in a heroic way, at least not til the end and even then, he holds back his feeling really well, composed says a hell of a lot more than wailing and yelling. For me, that was the appeal, this detective for hire is more honest that any of the other legit cops even though he is critercized for getting fame in the newspaper. Maybe I'm just tired of the typical good guy and more interested in seeing characters like this in movies. He is out for himself but helps out along the way. 

Faye Dunaway should also get a mention as she mirrors Nicholson in a perfect way. She doesn't breakdown until right near the end where she is forced to admit a terrible secret that has been eating away at her for years. The fact that she never really confirms nor denies that she was raped by her father is very disturbing. She looks up at Jake in a pitying sort of way. I did shudder at this, that an awful man like her father was the father of her child. The dramatic moment, in fact one of two, while others were quietly dramatic, is the 'she's my sister and my daughter break down fit'. The second is the end, that I didn't expect or see coming.

The climax all takes place in Chinatown and is around 10 minutes or less, yet the film is called this. I'm not sure if it was called Chinatown for dramatic effect but it seems odd now I'm reflecting on this. The famous final line, 'Forget it Jake, its Chinatown'. This sums up the whole feeling of LA and being in LA and the people who live in LA. Tomorrow is another day, another job, things like this happen, but we just move on, theres nothing else to do.

I'm so glad I picked this for my list as I had waited too long to see it. Its a great story with memorable charactrers. I would have like to see a story like this in an unknown city, just to see if it would have the same effect though, as sometimes is the place not the people.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and have a look HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers.


  1. Glad you enjoyed this one. It is truly one of the best film noirs of all time.

  2. I think you're right. The ending may be crushing but in a way there was no other way for it to end.