Chinatown : Movie Review

Title: Chinatown
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway
Released: June 17, 2024 (4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray)
Rating: 15 for strong language and moderate violence.
Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Chinatown celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and Paramount is marking the occasion with a Limited-Edition 4K Ultra HD™ release on June 17, 2024.

Jack Nicholson is unforgettable as private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-war Southern California. Hired by a beautiful socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband's extra-marital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits, uncovering a web of personal and political scandals that come crashing together for one, unforgettable night.

Chinatown 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray
Robert Towne’s brilliant Academy Award®-winning screenplay weaves a tragic and shocking tale of corruption, greed, and the human propensity for evil. Powerhouse performances by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston, a riveting story inspired by real events, vivid imagery, and a stirring score combine to make an unforgettable film that is essential for every cinephile’s collection.

Chinatown is a classic says everyone who knows anything about films. Counterpoint: Chinatown is an overlong film that ends on a tragic note and has some very unsavoury plot elements.

Chinatown is widely recognised as one of the greatest films in cinema history. But I don’t agree. But that is what film criticism is all about. Films are subjective. One person’s classic is another person’s nightmare. Films divide opinion and absolutely should be debated. So here are my thoughts about why Chinatown isn’t the classic that everyone else says that it is.

Before I watched it I had preconceived ideas about what sort of film it would be. I thought that Chinatown would actually be set in... you know... Chinatown, all dark alleys, steam rising from grates, killers around every corner. All atmosphere and great storytelling, about a 1920 gumshoe who catches the elusive killer.

What is Chinatown about in actual fact? It's about a corrupt local water authority that is irritating crops on a vineyard from a tainted water supply. Or something like that. Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway burn celluloid for a few steamy and intense scenes, but the rest of the two hours and ten minutes are a bit of a slog to be honest.

And what does happen (I'm not going to hear any complaints about spoiler alerts - this movie is 50 years old!)... Jake gets his nose sliced open by a brutish guy that he upsets, and we find out towards the end of the movie that Dunaway's character is the unfortunate victim of incest. That's right, the girl that she's been caring for is actually not only her daughter, but also her sister. And then she gets brutally killed at the end, leaving the end of the film in a very depressing place.

So to say that Chinatown is a haunting noir is spot on. This one will stay with you for a while afterwards. You might need to watch a romantic comedy or something funny after taking a visit to Chinatown, just to feel better. If you fancy the sequel, The Two Jakes, as I understand it that met with universally critical reviews. Perhaps I would love it.

As a fan of Jack Nicholson I actually watched Something's Gotta Give after Chinatown. Yeah it's a Nancy Meyer's romantic comedy, yeah it's lighthearted and a little daft in places. But at least it momentarily diverted my mind's eye from seeing the close up of Faye Dunaway's character, dead in the car, a bullet through her eye, and knowing that her sister-daughter is going to suffer the same fate as she did at the hands of her monster of a father.

Is Chinatown a noir classic? Yes. It’s a very dark and twisted classic. Which I urge you to watch, simply to make up your own mind about it. That it was inspired by real life events makes it even more horrifying, or is it compelling? Only you can decide.

The Limited 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition release includes the restored film on 4K Ultra HD™ disc for the first time ever. The exacting restoration was completed using the original camera negative, which was repaired using the latest technology in areas that had been previously damaged. The result is a sparkling 4K Ultra HD presentation that uses more of the best possible source than previous masters and faithfully captures the film’s distinctively dreamy and simultaneously realistic look.

In addition, this release includes extensive new and legacy bonus content on the 4K Ultra HD™ disc.

  • A State of Mind: Author Sam Wasson On Chinatown – Sam Wasson, film historian and bestselling author of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years Of Hollywood, on the importance of the film and its legacy.

  • Chinatown Memories – Legendary producer Hawk Koch shares stories from his time as assistant director on the film.

  • The Trilogy That Never Was – Sam Wasson discusses the planned third instalment of Jack Nicholson as private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-war Southern California.

Chinatown celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and Paramount is marking the occasion with a Limited-Edition 4K Ultra HD™ release on June 17, 2024.

Author : Kevin Stanley