Where i Watched it: HBo MAX
English Audio Description Available?: Not On HBo MAX
So, yes, this was an experience. Sometimes, I find a film that I have to track audio description down for, but for Chinatown, this time I basically rigged an experience similar to that of what Spectrum Access provides. I watched this with someone who could see, and I had headphones on playing the audio track at the same time. Timing was nuts, but I got it eventually.
It is my first time through Chinatown, and I think my interest peaked because of the Offer. That led me to remember I had never seen this classic, and it was about damn time. This film is pretty damn perfect. I have no constructive criticism to offer here, because it needs none.
I would almost go to the point of giving it an A+, but those tend to represent films I’ve come to love their perfection over time, like comfort films. I don’t know how many more times in my lifetime I will watch Chinatown, but it took me this long to get once, so I’m not that optimistic for more than one more.
Roman Polanski, who regardless of what you think of him as a person, is an incredible director, and he manages to expertly craft this slow burn detective story with all its nods to the Sam Spade’s of yore, while also taking a more centered look at the water crisis in Los Angeles. And, considering where everything is right now in terms of the drought out west, suddenly a film nearly 50 years old has become so interestingly relevant.
Sure, here the worry around water is not because of global warming or climate change, but rather just flat out greed. But the idea that someone would even pay attention to it at all, bringing eyes to the problem at hand, it’s amazing how little has changed in fifty years.
Jack Nicholson, still near the beginning of his career, hadn’t yet developed into the typical Nicholson we started seeing pop up in the 80’s, and mostly later in the 90’s, where he mastered being cantankerous with a soft and cuddly core if you can just get the right woman to get under his skin.
his performance is reminiscent of all those detective films from the 30’s and 40’s, as it should be, based on the time period of the film. Faye Dunaway is also really exceptional here, though honestly Nicholson steals this film. Dunaway would go on to steal other films from other talented actors.
The fact that I’ve even bothered to write this much about a film already given an untouchable classic status has so much to do with my love of it right out of the gate. It might be hard for the blind and visually impaired audiences to track down what I found, but if you can manage an audio description track for the film, please watch Chinatown. Especially if you never have. it’s so incredibly parallel to our current water crisis, it’s scary.
Yes, it’s OK to like this film. Hundreds of people worked on this film who are not named Polanski.
Final Grade: A