Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chinatown (1974)

Directed by Roman Polanski. This is a good movie to see when you're stuck on the couch, distracted by a cold with a sore throat, which was my situation this past weekend. As you know Jack Nicholson spends a big chunk of the middle of this with a giant bandage on this nose, which is supposed to distract you, so it makes sense to watch it distracted by your own sore something or another.

It also makes sense to put John Huston in your movie, who knew how to act the hell out of the character of Noah Cross, who you already know is a giant creep but have no idea just how big a creep he is capable of being.

Are all directors great actors? No. Roman Polanski himself has a great little role in this, even though it makes no sense. We already know that the town has hired Mulvihill (played by Roy Jenson) to guard the reservoir but why would this guy be around, dressed like he's on his way to a party? What a moment. You feel that knife in your nose.

Scorcese, good actor. Sydney Pollack, great actor, arguably a better actor than director. Tarantino, shitty actor, but lots of fun. Woody Allen, no range, but great personality. Spike Lee, limited like Woody Allen. Mel Brooks knows his range.

But back to the knife in the nose. I like it in movies when what it takes to take the hero down is realistic. It's a very different kind of movie when Kevin Costner or Burt Reynolds takes 20 punches to the chin and keeps swinging.

Though I'll say this. Before Mulvihill and "Kittycat" approach Gittes at the fence in that scene, they fire a warning shot at him and he jumps down into the reservoir. How do people always know where to hide when a shot is fired in an open area? I guarantee you that if a shot was ever fired at me, and I dived behind a rock, I would be behind a rock but in front of the shooter. I'm telling you, sound is a tricky phenomenon of physics and it is not simple and it is not that easy to know where a shot is fired from. So there.

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