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Chinatown

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Uploaded on Aug 12, 2008

In the tradition of Raymond Chandler and movies like The Big Sleep (Top 130: #24) and The Maltese Falcon (Top 130: #31), Chinatown is a near perfect movie which finds Private Investigator Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) plunged into a world of money, murder and... water.

Robert Towne is the writer responsible for this, one of the best original screenplays ever written. And Roman Polanski (like Lean, in my previous post on Lawrence of Arabia) is brilliantly economic in his direction of scenes, trusting both the script and his actors.

This particular scene between Gittes and Noah Cross (John Huston) is elegantly captured in one shot, avoiding the easy pitfalls of over-emphasizing the emotion of the scene. Polanski stays out of the way of the actors and keeps the camera back at a distance which brings to the surface the sheer banality of the evil communicated.

It's also worth noting the composition of the scene at the 2:10 mark: the camera is behind Gittes who is framed to the left. This framing is used often and emphasizes that we only see what Gittes sees. We follow him through the convoluted web of lies and are never given information that he himself does not uncover.

[Warning: major SPOILERs here. But if you haven't seen it, perhaps this will motivate you to rent or buy the DVD. A good story is worth telling over and over again, even if you know the ending!]

From: http://jasongoode.wordpress.com/2008/...

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