#119: Chinatown (1974)

When and how did I watch this?

July 12th and 13th, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I knew this one was a big deal and had Jack Nicholson in it, who I respect tremendously.  Otherwise, this film was before my time.

What do I know about it now?

Why is this film called Chinatown?  Well, because it ends in Chinatown, and it’s the last word spoken.  This sums it up, really.  We’re not made to care about the characters and who’s getting killed.  Dunaway and Nicholson earn their stripes in their roles, but I felt like much of the story line was patched together, making them at times seem flat and working as props rather than dynamic people. Every twist felt contrived.  The score and setting are both redeeming factors.

What are some themes in the film?

Bureaucracy/power, family, prejudice

Did this affect me personally?


Why is this ranked #119?

It was nominated for a bunch of Oscars.  Dunaway is sort of a 70s screen babe, and everyone seems to like Nicholson. The film-noir 1920s fedora-riddled era is romantic to many.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She did, and shared many of my opinions.

Would I watch it again?

Certainly not.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It might resonate with other people, but generally, I think it’s difficult to watch. It might be a risk willing to take.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

No. It might run contrary to the general public opinion of this film, but I think it severely lacks in aspects that make a film great: an engaging story, good pacing, intangible factors, tension, human characters and proper character development. From where I sat, none of this existed.

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