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Chinatown

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Director: Roman Polanski, Roman Polanski, Roman Polanski
1974 / 130min / 35mm

The actual Chinatown neighborhood in Los Angeles doesn’t play a major role in Polanski’s noir-inflected film of dirty dealings in 1930s Southern California, but it does a whole lot of metaphorical heavy lifting in the film’s famous kicker line, symbolic of a place where the rules and the language are beyond comprehension. Faye Dunaway is a woman in trouble; Jack Nicholson is the nosey detective Jake Gittes who thinks he can get her out of it; and John Huston is the vilest plutocrat in all of cinema, reshaping the future of a thriving city with concern only for fattening his pockets. Native Angelino Robert Towne’s screenplay is perhaps his finest, an indictment of the conscienceless concerns that, in his hometown’s years of golden promise, were already silently steering its fate.

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