MovieChat Forums > Chinatown (1974) Discussion > Forced myself to watch it, didn't like i...

Forced myself to watch it, didn't like it.


Too depressive and dark for me.

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It does get super-dark, yeah.

You don't like any dark films?

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I tend to like uplifting films. I saw recently Promising Young Woman, and I loved that, loved the bittersweet ending in that, but this... it ends on a dark, sinister note, you know that grandpa will abuse that girl, ugh... and that's it?? Didn't like it... won't ever rewatch it again. I only watched it because it's Polanski and I like most of his other films.

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1974 was a very, very dark year at the movies. At least for commercial films.

I won't say what the dark endings were, but these key films(many of them Oscar nominated) had them:

Chinatown
The Conversation
Godfather II
Lenny
The Gambler
The Parallax View
The Sugarland Express(Spielberg's film debut)
The Longest Yard(a happy ending has a dark coda)
Death Wish
Earthquake


...there seemed to be a burgeoning backlash to all that pessimism. Mel Brooks had his two biggest hits in 1974: Blazing Saddles (at the beginning) and Young Frankenstein(at the end.) And then the movies of 1975 through 1977 started bringing back happy endings in a big way: Jaws(even though one of the leads gets killed.) Rocky. Star Wars.

On the other hand, Jack Nicholson in Cuckoo's Nest in 1975 had a pretty bleak ending . Followed by a pretty triumphant epilog.

PS. I recall some actor on Merv Griffin -- it might have been David Carradine as I recall -- in 1974 talking about how disappointed he was to have seen a recent movie that seemed to be heading for a happy ending and went all dark at the end. It was clear he was talking about Chinatown.

PPS. One reason he made Star Wars, George Lucas said , was that "I was tired of going to movies where you feel worse coming out of the theater than you did going in."

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You KNOW it's a dark year if even Spielberg makes a downbeat film.

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That's a neat observation about the state of cinema in the '70s. It's also intriguing because a lot of people tend to think of the '70s as having a lot of wonderful, positive trends in film. Not necessarily positive in terms of "oh, gee, that was super-happy!" but in terms of artistic merit. US/ Hollywood filmmakers were taking note of European auteurs and bringing that gravitas and artfulness to their films, resulting in stuff like The Godfather and Annie Hall, as well as many films that didn't star Diane Keaton. Those same critics tend to look on Star Wars and Jaws as a start of a blockbuster-trending spiral where the mainstream became less about art and less about grown-up audiences and more and more geared towards toy-buying teenagers.

There's tonnes to unpack there, and I have mixed-feelings about it, although I do tend to see things roughly that way. Not that Star Wars is "to blame", or that Jaws and Spielberg and Lucas are "culpable" or "dumbed down" movies, but more that that was the beginning of the trend.

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I can certainly understand that. I didn't care for The Hateful Eight partly because it was a film that seemed to just revel in nastiness, like Jerry Springer or something; it felt very nihilistic. Chinatown I do like - heck, I love it - partly because it's so well made, well-written, well-performed (etc.), but I do feel like there are good takeaways from the film.

First, I'd argue that, if there is a sliver of light, it's in Jake's character. He wakes up. After so long of not caring ("As little as possible") and staying aloof, he gets pulled in, emotionally-invested in the world and in other people, and tries to do some good. Okay, it doesn't go well, but there is something there.

Second, and more importantly, I'd argue that while Chinatown is a sombre film, its messages (warnings, maybe) are about corruption, power, vigilance, and sinister evil worming its way into society and drying up the good in it. The warning is, "Don't let this happen," and while it's delivered in a nasty package, that's a truth we should maybe think about.

As opposed to The Hateful Eight, I get something out of Chinatown. I see the mirror held up to nature, as it were, and that's not always pleasant, but I feel like I'm getting something valuable from the experience.

All that said, that type of thing isn't why everybody goes to the movies, so if Chinatown (and other "downer" films) aren't your thing, you be you. It's all good.

Oh, and, uh...probably don't watch Requiem for a Dream.

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You KNOW it's a dark year if even Spielberg makes a downbeat film.

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Ha. The thing of it is, you sense that he knew that was what he HAD to do in 1974 to make his mark with the "in crowd." If Spielberg had delivered a "happy ending" film in 1974...he would have been ostracized.

A lot of these filmmakers were influenced by European films and "realistic films" and felt that the movies HAD to start taking in the realities of unhappy endings and failed lives (frankly a number of these filmmakers -- and film writers like Paul Schrader -- were pretty unhappy, messed up people getting to express themselves.)

Jaws didn't fully "bring Spielberg over to the bright side." Before the shark is killed he has killed a beautiful young woman and a little boy(and we see the mother's anguish over her child's death.) One of the heroes is killed -- though he was a pretty compromised and border-line insane hero. The explosive death of the shark(which was found ridiculous in many quarters -- an air tank wouldn't do THAT) was the clue to the blockbuster mentality about to take hold.

I suppose in the years after "Sugarland Express," Spielberg went to the dark side as often as not (Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report) but he usually found the happy ending to the worst of tales(Schindler's List, The Color Purple, War of the Worlds.)

And is not the ending of ET triumphantly happy AND heartbreakingly sad at the same time?

OK: The Indiana Jones movies were "anti-1974."


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There's tonnes to unpack there, and I have mixed-feelings about it, although I do tend to see things roughly that way. Not that Star Wars is "to blame", or that Jaws and Spielberg and Lucas are "culpable" or "dumbed down" movies, but more that that was the beginning of the trend.

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I wouldn't want to "over-generalize" that the early 70's were downbeat and the late 70's were happy and its been "happy ever after." But even IN 1974, 1974's series of downer endings("the good guys lose") seemed to reach a saturation point. One issue is that these filmmakers had been given the freedom to MAKE these downers, but very few of them were box office hits. I think Chinatown made solid money based on its quality and its cast, but it was hardly in "Jaws" land for grosses(and hell, it was a SUMMER MOVIE in 1974, just one summer before Jaws.)

Eventually, new studio chiefs came in(largely in the 80's, largely from TV production) and happy endings really did come back. More to the point, the movies "bifurcated" between happy ending summer blockbusters(Star Wars, Superman, Ghostbusters...even Rambo) and dramatic Oscar winning downers(The Killing Fields, Amadeus.)

But a lot of those downbeat 70's filmmakers lost their deals.

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1974 was also a big year for disaster movies, in which a number of people died along the way and --sometimes -- the heroes died too(Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake.) These were not "happy" movies at all, but audiences dug the survival analogies and the big stars.

1970-1973 had their share of downers, too. Five Easy Pieces. Scarecrow. The French Connection.

Here's a SPOILER about how that worked in favor of one movie: The Sting(1973.)

When I saw The Sting, at the end, I thought that Newman and Redford WERE dead. After all, they died in Butch Cassidy and movies were currently bleak. I totally accepted that these two heroes would die pulling off their sting.

And then they didn't. The audience applauded wildly, and I think part of it was because we were so damned USED to the heroes dying.

(Note in passing: Paul Newman was well ahead of 1974 in the sixties. He dies sacrificially in Hombre, Cool Hand Luke, and Butch Cassidy. But he survives The Towering Inferno in 1974, along with pal Steve McQueen.)

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I can certainly understand that. I didn't care for The Hateful Eight partly because it was a film that seemed to just revel in nastiness, like Jerry Springer or something; it felt very nihilistic.

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With certain reservations(like when he goes too sexually sadistic), I like Tarantino, and I think after a mid-career slump, he has gotten better (though not quite at his debut peak level.)

And I liked The Hateful Eight(with reservations.) Its a MOVIE -- absolutely gorgeous to look at, with a powerful opening credit camera movement and Morricone credit theme.

I think The Hateful Eight gets away with its nihilism because it is couched in great , funny dialogue delivered by great, rather oddball stars...and again, the movie looks great. The poisoned coffee sequence is an exercise in Hitchcockian precision -- TWO guys have to get poisoned so that one of them can figure out the coffee IS poisoned, and can warn a THIRD guy right before he drinks the fatal cup. That's nifty to me.

Neither the fatuous "entertainment press" nor the regular "press press" ever cornered QT into an interview about what he was trying to say with The Hateful Eight. He steered the dialogue off-course to Black Lives Matter when this movie was really about ALL races(and regions of America, and two sexes) trying to get along and failing.

Indeed, Tarantino -- in his Heavy Metal, slightly adolescent way -- has almost single-handedly carried on the tradition from the seventies of the "uncomfortable R-rated movie." Many of them have VERY happy endings though, if you notice.I'm thinking of Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But not of The Hateful Eight.

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First, I'd argue that, if there is a sliver of light, it's in Jake's character. He wakes up. After so long of not caring ("As little as possible") and staying aloof, he gets pulled in, emotionally-invested in the world and in other people, and tries to do some good. Okay, it doesn't go well, but there is something there.

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Well, its too bad that The Two Jakes isn't a classic on the level of Chinatown, because that sequel DOES show us Gittes -- having served honorably in WWII -- coming back as a prosperous private investigator again and almost imposing a delayed happy ending on Chinatown. That's the trouble with sequels -- they remind us that life DOES go on(if Jake didn't kill himself, and he didn't) and people get better.

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Second, and more importantly, I'd argue that while Chinatown is a sombre film, its messages (warnings, maybe) are about corruption, power, vigilance, and sinister evil worming its way into society and drying up the good in it. The warning is, "Don't let this happen," and while it's delivered in a nasty package, that's a truth we should maybe think about.

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Yes, people spent the 70's at the movies getting "wised up about the world"(at the movies at least.) I think there was an over-emphasis in every 1974 film REVIEW about "Vietnam and Watergate" creating a cynical populace. To me, Vietnam was much more serious than Watergate. Watergate's final acts were raging in the summer of Chinatown's release -- wags linked the water THEMES in Chinatown to the Watergate NAME(for movie promotion purposes, natch) but Nixon et al were dispatched pretty quickly and easily in the end(and not considered villains by everybody, anyway.) Beyond Vietnam and Watergate would lie decades in which authority wasn't trusted at all -- whichever side you take in American politics, you know it is corrupt at its core. But we go along to get along. Still, perhaps 1974 got us ready for all that(The Godfathers DEFINITELY spoke to the realities of power and corruption, and how to live with them both.)



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I think the "deal" with 1974 was this. All five Best Picture nominees -- Godfather II and Chinatown(the two main contenders), The Conversation, Lenny, and even The Towering Inferno -- were downers. Our top stars were working in downers:Nicholson, Beatty, Hoffman, Reynolds. (I forgot one -- Clint Eastwood in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.) It is not simply that downers were being made, it was like our "best of the best" were COMITTED to making downers.

Take The Towering Inferno. Top stars McQueen and Newman survive at the end, but along the way, we get a very nice older woman(Jennifer Jones), who has saved some little kids and manages to hand one off to rescuers in her last moment alive, almost arbitrarily flung out of an outdoor elevator and shown falling scores of floors to her death(she literally bounces off on outcropping to show us just how bad her death is -- though hopefully the bump killed her instantly on the way down.)

That Towering Inferno Jennifer Jones death was actually a very "realistic statement." Being the nicest , sweetest , most caring character in the movie didn't save Jennifer Jones from the uncaring death dealt out by a disaster.

So..another downer. But a real one.

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This is all pretty accurate, yeah.

My bottom line is that I think it's great to have both. We need upbeat and we need downer. I love rock 'n' roll and the blues. It depends on the mood. It doesn't do a soul good to just bathe in the depressing and the horrifying, nor does it help foster personal growth to only ever pretend things are cheery and upbeat and end well.

I do wish that mainstream filmmaking was more art-driven and less blockbuster-chasing. But thems the breaks, right?

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I think Vietnam and Watergate were very different and connected partly by politics and chronological proximity, but they both did one very important thing to the public: they were visible.

Beforehand, did people know politics was dirty? Sure. But Watergate shoved it in their faces. "It's *this* corrupt, it goes up *that* high, and it's *right here*." Same with 'Nam. "Here's war, it's live, and it's televised. That's what a hero looks like." I doubt the atrocities of Vietnam, the nihilism and the bleakness of being a soldier, were much worse than Korea, for instance, or World War I, but it was in the living room in the 1970s.

Either way, films like Chinatown highlight this stuff and put our brains ready to ponder, accept, and deal with, react to, and solve, these problematic truths. That's why it's such high art and such a great movie (besides the fact that it's just a good thriller without the "deep" stuff).

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I think Vietnam and Watergate were very different and connected partly by politics and chronological proximity, but they both did one very important thing to the public: they were visible.

Beforehand, did people know politics was dirty? Sure. But Watergate shoved it in their faces. "It's *this* corrupt, it goes up *that* high, and it's *right here*." Same with 'Nam. "Here's war, it's live, and it's televised. That's what a hero looks like." I doubt the atrocities of Vietnam, the nihilism and the bleakness of being a soldier, were much worse than Korea, for instance, or World War I, but it was in the living room in the 1970s.

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Agreed on both points. Its become a bit of a cliché -- a dark cliché -- that "Vietnam was on in our living rooms," but as I recall , it was. And Watergate became about a two-year "television event." I suppose one can see in the Watergate coverage the beginning of today's cable news all-politics-all-the-time rages. When Nixon resigned, new President Gerald Ford famously said "The long national nightmare is over"...but me, I think it was just getting started and we are still living it today. Cynical, cynical.

Before Watergate got him, Nixon DID end the draft, and that was a big deal. Its a historical marker in American life...no longer do young men approaching 18 and their families have to contemplate politicians forcibly removing the young man from his home to possibly kill him off.

Vietnam told us "not every war is necessary" and Watergate told us "never trust these politicians to send your sons to war." All these decades later, we have the same issues, but against the changed backdrop of a volunteer force.

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Either way, films like Chinatown highlight this stuff and put our brains ready to ponder, accept, and deal with, react to, and solve, these problematic truths. That's why it's such high art and such a great movie (besides the fact that it's just a good thriller without the "deep" stuff)

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SPOILERS For Chinatown:

Its both a great mystery thriller AND a great "theme movie."

Consider how JJ Gittes initial investigation(a cheating husband investigation) leads first to the water conspiracy(political) and then to the sexual secrets of the Cross/Mulwray family(personal.) Things start pretty simple and get pretty complicated pretty fast.

Great mystery line: "Bad for glass." (Decades later, Tony Soprano would jokingly say that line while floating in his swimming pool -- HE knew a good movie when he saw it.)

And that confrontation between Gittes and Cross in the backyard -- so beautifully shot at sunset -- brings it all home.

Gittes: How much are you worth?
Cross: I have no idea.
Gittes: Ten million?
Cross: Oh, at least that..
Gittes: What more do you need that you don't already have? What else do you need to buy?
Cross: The FUTURE, Mr. Gittes!

and within the same confrontation:

Cross: You have to understand, Mr. Gittes, that at the right place and time, a man is capable of ANYTHING. (How Huston says "anything" is a creepy classic of line reading.)

(Paraphrased.)

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Yes, yes, yes! Plus it embroils the character of Gittes so well. He's a private guy/ private eye. He's a shadow man. He hates the spotlight. He's forced out of his comfort place into his personal hell. That's excellent character work, and it ties in the character to the story. A lot of movies fail at that, and I think it's such a shame. It's writing 101.

I love that Cross keeps saying "Gits". Just driving it in. Or Jake telling the joke and then turning around after his junior detectives try to warn him. Of course, "You know what happens to nosy fellahs, don't you?" Or Jake going after the other private detective, always just maligning his intellect and abilities with great little remarks.

Huston was a master and Noah Cross is an all-time great performance and villain. Had I been fortunate enough to meet John Huston in his life, I might have had a hard time not being on-guard (mitigated by his voiceover as Gandalf, perhaps).

Did you see The Other Side of the Wind?

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Yes, yes, yes! Plus it embroils the character of Gittes so well. He's a private guy/ private eye. He's a shadow man. He hates the spotlight. He's forced out of his comfort place into his personal hell. That's excellent character work, and it ties in the character to the story. A lot of movies fail at that, and I think it's such a shame. It's writing 101.

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Yes..Gittes is a protagonist on a long journey(that starts with the "usual divorce case") and while it doesn't end well, it changes him, brings him up in knowledge of the world as it works.

I will note that Jack Nicholson took several movies -- almost in a row -- where his character tries to do good and something tragic happens: The Last Detail, Chinatown, Cuckoo's Nest. It was Nicholson's "forte" for awhile there. The "caring tough guy who loses."

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I love that Cross keeps saying "Gits". Just driving it in. Or Jake telling the joke and then turning around after his junior detectives try to warn him.

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Like a lot of great dramas, Chinatown also has time for comedy.

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Of course, "You know what happens to nosy fellahs, don't you?"

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Other than the big sexual reveal at the end, I think Chinatown is most famous for the simple sadism of that nose slice (how horrifyingly easy it looks to do)-- and Jack Nicholson's willingness to go through the second half of the movie with a giant bandage on his face and then a scar on his nose. Cary Grant would not have done that!

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--- Or Jake going after the other private detective, always just maligning his intellect and abilities with great little remarks.

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You mean his assistant? Yes he was mean that way -- I suppose "showing him who is boss." Gittes is a good guy but set up in his arrogance to be taken down a few notches.

I love this: like private eyes in so many OTHER movies, Gittes keeps confronting people and telling them his summary of the case: "Your husband was cheating on you with that girl and you had him killed," etc. But Gittes is always WRONG. Until the end.

Or as Cross tells him: "You may think you know what's going on...but you don't."

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Huston was a master and Noah Cross is an all-time great performance and villain.

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Interesting that Huston first made his name as a screenwriter, than as one of the great directors and then -- while remaining a director -- swerved off to deliver this great, classic performance for all time(not Oscar nominated, I wonder why: not enough screen time, maybe?)

That said, Huston's acting talent got wasted a few times after Chinatown, like in Breakout (a Charles Bronson movie) the very next year.

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Had I been fortunate enough to meet John Huston in his life, I might have had a hard time not being on-guard (mitigated by his voiceover as Gandalf, perhaps).

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Ha. Yes.

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Did you see The Other Side of the Wind?

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Most of it. It is interesting, rather unfinished and unfocussed but Huston is great. Welles shot a surprising amount of sex stuff for that movie. Seemed out of place after Citizen Kane.

I can't really form a knowledgeable opinion about the film, other than noting its artiness, its feel (rather like Woody Allens' Stardust Memories in terms of all the "movie hangers on"), its sexual content. Bogdanovich isn't bad in it...he was handsome, nerdy and smarmy all at the same time.

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Not the assistant, the other guy. Mulvihill (had to look that up). Like where he asks why Mulvilhill is there and he says they shut his water off and Gittes replies, "How'd you find out about it? You don't drink it; you don't take a bath in it... They wrote you a letter. But then you have to be able to read." He puts him down elsewhere, too.

The movie's quotable end-to-end. Once I was going somewhere nice, I was dressed up, and that included a pair of Florsheim shoes. I stepped in some dog leavings. What else could I say? "G--d--- Florsheim shoe...!"

I forgot he wasn't nominated for this one. Boy, the Academy have had some real dozy moments, huh?

Yeah, it's neat that Huston basically did it all. There are still things that I find out about, "Oh, wow, he wrote that, too? He directed that?"

I watched about half of Other Side, or maybe two thirds of it, and I was having trouble following it - it's understandably choppy. I got interrupted and had to come back to it a couple weeks later. By then I figured I'd just start over and I gotta say, I dug it more the second time through 'cause my brain could grab onto more stuff. It didn't feel so loose and slippery. I really appreciated it then, so I'd say give it another shot. It ain't perfect, but it's pretty darn good.

Yeah, the sex stuff was surprising. That said, again, on the second round, it seemed like there was less of it. I think it caught me off-guard enough the first time that I remembered its taking up more time than it did. Still, it is quite explicit.

I love Stardust Memories, too. That's an underrated film. It's very funny, very thoughtful, gives a lot to chew on. Plus, it manages to almost be 8 1/2 without feel like it's ripping that film off.

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Not the assistant, the other guy. Mulvihill (had to look that up). Like where he asks why Mulvilhill is there and he says they shut his water off and Gittes replies, "How'd you find out about it? You don't drink it; you don't take a bath in it... They wrote you a letter. But then you have to be able to read." He puts him down elsewhere, too.

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Oh yeah. Mulvihill. Great character. Jake makes fun of him and yet the guy helps get his nose cut up -- later, Jake in revenge beats him to a near pulp(using a great technique-entangled the guy's head in his own jacket so he can't see where the punches are coming from.)

Jake also gets into it with the cop who insults him about his cut nose. Says something about the cop's wife with that great capper "y'know what I mean?" (Nicholson's pal Bruce Dern used that line a lot, too: "y'know what I mean?" )

Jake Gittes has a LOT of classic tough guy insults to dole out during Chinatown. Makes the movie fun before it gets so dark at the end.

He's even fairly tough to Dunaway's Mulwray early on: "I damn near lost my nose. I like my nose. I like having a nose. I like BREATHING through it!!"


--The movie's quotable end-to-end. Once I was going somewhere nice, I was dressed up, and that included a pair of Florsheim shoes. I stepped in some dog leavings. What else could I say? "G--d--- Florsheim shoe...!"

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Ha. There you go. I remember laughing at that line the first time I heard it(with the sound effects of soaking wet shoe leather in action)...and I've never much forgotten it.

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I forgot about the jacket-blindness. I love the dirty fighting. I love when movies give a sense of the brutality of a brawl. From Russia with Love has it in the train fight between Bond and Grant. It just looks awful, animalistic.

Jake gets into it with pretty much everybody, doesn't he?

That's the thing, isn't it? Jake's wit and some of the other moments keep Chinatown from being a slog. It's exciting and fun for most of the run. It turns into hell by the end, but it's not a pain to watch. Movies with great messages don't have to be obvious about it (very telling, I think, that you criticized The Two Jakes by saying how on the nose it was), and it doesn't have to be a soapbox.

Getting to slip that quip honestly made the experience of stepping in it a lot less of a pain. I got to slide in a Chinatown quote - even though there was nobody around.

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Hm...I never noticed that about Nicholson's filmography before... I think he's an underrated performer. People are always going, "Oh, he's just playing himself!" but I think he's just got a distinctive voice and people hear that and say, "He's playing himself again," without realizing the nuance, subtlety, and uniqueness he brings to each role.

Gittes is the perfect protagonist for the film. We see this in all great stories, I think, or at least most of them. Who else but Frodo could embody the themes of Lord of the Rings? Who else but Ripley could face down the Alien?

Great comedy with a point, too. No lines wasted in Chinatown. Every time Cross calls him "Gitts", he's needling him, goading him, and showing him the extent of his (Noah's) power. "I don't have to respect you," he's saying, all while talking about whores becoming respectable. A guy like Noah Cross is sharp as a tack. You bet he remembers names.

I loved that they let him have that ugly bandage on his face. There's got to be some symbolism of the ugly truth coming to bare, right? Or maybe it's just a great scene.

Either way, whenever a star is willing to be gross, (partly) masked, or humiliated in a movie (in the story), it is bonus points. I always dug Hugo Weaving stepping in for James Purefoy (I think...?) in V for Vendetta. Purefoy didn't want to stay in the mask the whole movie.

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People are always going, "Oh, he's just playing himself!" but I think he's just got a distinctive voice and people hear that and say, "He's playing himself again," without realizing the nuance, subtlety, and uniqueness he brings to each role.

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ALL great movie stars play themselves -- we come to like them as "best friends" -- but they manage to "change up their game" from character to character. Nicholson in Cuckoo's Nest is like Nicholson in Chinatown -- but wilder, more down and dirty...and yet, just as emotional and caring at the end.

I noticed that both with Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino, they shifted to really using their (now aging) VOICES differently in their later roles. It takes your mind off their age and -- in Nicholson's case -- weight gain. Nicholson hits his "T's" hard and HISSES his "s" -- "Why does a man dressed up like a baTT...get all my pressssss.."

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Gittes is the perfect protagonist for the film. We see this in all great stories, I think, or at least most of them. Who else but Frodo could embody the themes of Lord of the Rings? Who else but Ripley could face down the Alien?

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The protagonist in these adventures comes to "fit" the story they are in. I'd add Cary Grant in North by Northwest...a cool, handsome well-to-do man forced to live on the run as...a cool, handsome well-to-do man.

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Great comedy with a point, too. No lines wasted in Chinatown. Every time Cross calls him "Gitts", he's needling him, goading him, and showing him the extent of his (Noah's) power. "I don't have to respect you," he's saying, all while talking about whores becoming respectable. A guy like Noah Cross is sharp as a tack. You bet he remembers names.

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Yep. Though I also read that Huston HIMSELF had trouble prouncing "Gittes." But they worked it into the character beautifully. Cross always knows what's going on, and he's correct: Gittes may think he knows whats going on, but he doesn't.

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I loved that they let him have that ugly bandage on his face. There's got to be some symbolism of the ugly truth coming to bare, right? Or maybe it's just a great scene.

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Well, its a double whammy. Chinatown producer Robert Evans prided himself on turning Jack Nicholson into a suave romantic leading man in Chinatown -- the suits, the haircut, the love scenes -- but the script also called for this romantic leading man to go through the movie with his face all messed up. We get USED to it , though -- that bandage. Near the end, we see the stitched up wound in all its painful glory.

In The Two Jakes, it is never mentioned, but you can see the scar on Gittes nose all through the movie. Smart make-up work.

E

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I watched about half of Other Side, or maybe two thirds of it, and I was having trouble following it - it's understandably choppy. I got interrupted and had to come back to it a couple weeks later. By then I figured I'd just start over and I gotta say, I dug it more the second time through 'cause my brain could grab onto more stuff. It didn't feel so loose and slippery. I really appreciated it then, so I'd say give it another shot. It ain't perfect, but it's pretty darn good.

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Its pretty darn good...and it brings Orson Welles into the "R-rated seventies." In American film as a director, he sort of stops in 1958 with Touch of Evil(from the year of Vertigo.) The Other Side of the Wind is of a later, more frank era. Arty, too. Welles -- even more than Huston -- ALSO plied his trade as an actor. You can see Welles as a Russian villain in John Huston's quirky thriller "The Kremlin Letter."(1970) I expect it was on this picture that Welles and Huston formed their alliance for "Wind."


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Yeah, the sex stuff was surprising. That said, again, on the second round, it seemed like there was less of it. I think it caught me off-guard enough the first time that I remembered its taking up more time than it did. Still, it is quite explicit.

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True...not a lot of it. But there was NONE in Citizen Kane or The Magnificent Ambersons. It just threw me.

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I love Stardust Memories, too. That's an underrated film. It's very funny, very thoughtful, gives a lot to chew on. Plus, it manages to almost be 8 1/2 without feel like it's ripping that film off.

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The Woodman's retort to all of us who "liked the early funny ones."

And I love his opening black and white dream: HE is stuck on a train filled with miserable people. Across from him, a train pulls out with beautiful people having a party(including unknown Sharon Stone.)

That's life when you are down..

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There's something generally magical about Other Side of the Wind, too. It's this lost thing, this re-discovery. It's neat that Welles kinda got one more done.

I still haven't seen The Magnificent Ambersons...

That bit with the critics in Stardust Memories about the "early funny ones", that's great; then it comes around at the end, too. Brilliant.

Woody has always had the gift of taking life, distilling it to its essence, and then giving us that impossible-to-capture thing captured on his screens. Yeah, the train opener is brilliant, beautiful, so well-shot, and funny! That's one of the best middle fingers in the movie is that it's mocking the "we just want you to be funny!" people, but he's also funny about that.

I could go on. I'm rare here where I disagree with basically everybody: I don't think Allen ever lost it. His latest stuff is great. Blue Jasmine, Midnight in Paris, To Rome with Love...even Crisis in Six Scenes, which wasn't his best, still had me howling with laughter at points.

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There are some stories, though, where the character isn't 100% the right person for the job. They're just kinda "slotted in", and it could be a lot of people. You see this a lot in B-grade action movies (or other "B-grade" flicks). As fun as Predator is, I don't think Dutch is necessarily the "perfect" hero. More Robert Towne related through Syd Field here, basically the ideal protagonist is the last guy on earth who wants to go through the movie. That fits with somebody like Gittes, but not as much with somebody like Dutch.

The movie's essence needs to mesh with the hero's weaknesses and the ways in which they need to grow (so, Rocky would fit because of how he needs to grow, even though getting a shot isn't his personal hell).

We could also look at Transformers. Any of those heroes "need" this? Nope. Weirdly, I was going to use Avatar, but Jake Sully's need to be transported to another world to get over his brother's death and his own paralysis do actually fit, even if Avatar's writing is generally not up to snuff.

I didn't know that about Huston! That's terrific! I love when stuff like that becomes an asset. Like the coconut horses in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Yeah, that's great, with the makeup and with just having the balls to make the damage last. Archer, of all things, also seems to keep him scarred up from one encounter to the next.

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Yes, to some extent, they bring their charisma and persona with them, but I don't think Nicholson "plays himself" every time. He's got that presence, but he's coming at Jake Gittes very differently from The Joker or Harry Sanborn.

I still think Pacino has great work in him. People write him off, like he's a human cartoon now (which he is in some stuff), but then something like The Irishman comes out, and holy smokes does he still have it...

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Yes, I think Nixon's greatest villainy was forever tainting the office of the Presidency with that stain. After that, I think people were a lot more partisan (not that they weren't prior) and now we see the degeneration where we think about the candidates and how little respect they get across the aisle. Obama carried himself with such class and dignity. His policies, his politics - criticize or agree - but the flak he took just for being on the Democratic ticket. Likewise with the Republican nominees. Guys like McCain (the "Maverick") who were shellacked in ways they did not deserve. It's appalling, and I think Nixon had a hand in that.

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Politics is a "danger zone" for writing when writing about movies, I think. I don't opine much about it.

I will say here that clearly the rise of two things -- competing cable channels and this here internet -- have changed it irrevocably for the worse, but enough people seem to "get" that by now and are avoiding the lies. Rather like Noah Cross, some very rich and powerful people are getting richer and more powerful by exploiting politics as entertainment, and hate as a commodity for profit.

And in some ways, modernly Noah Cross would probably be excused EVERYTHING even if we knew it. On the internet. Nothing shocks anyone anymore.

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If Noah Cross were tied in politically to one party or another you bet your britches his "side" would defend him.

Social media specifically, I think, has made politics even more of a cesspit.

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He's actually a lesser fictional evil than a real life George Soros, who -- to your point -- gets needlessly defended by Big Tech and the technocratic oligarchs in the media at every turn.

It's disgusting that in some ways, even the most despicable villains from fictional films don't even come close to the villainy we see exercised in real life.

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There is no fabricated villain who cannot be outdone by real life. There is no Hannibal Lector or Noah Cross so evil as to compete with people like Hitler, Stalin, John Wayne Gacy, and so on.

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Is The Two Jakes good? I haven't avoided it, but I haven't tracked it down. It just seemed like Chinatown told such a complete story that to push onward was an exercise in futility. It felt like, "Oh, everybody liked that movie, let's make more whether it's warranted or not".

If a sequel focused on "life does go on" as a theme, that could be very interesting. Just showing the heroes trying to live normal lives. It'd be great fun - depending on how it was handled - watching Indiana Jones struggle to prepare lectures after he's witnessed the power of the Ark of the Covenant.

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Is The Two Jakes good? I haven't avoided it, but I haven't tracked it down.

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It is a movie of quality and intelligence -- Robert Towne wrote it(or most of it) and Jack Nicholson was always careful with his projects. He ended up directing this, and not too well.

But its not Chinatown. Not even close. My rule(shared by others) is: remakes are OK -- if they re-stage a great story -- but sequels are generally NOT OK. Because a great story ENDS. Continuing it fights the perfection of a story well told. (The late screenwriter William Goldman called ALL sequels "whore movies" -- made just to make a buck off the original. I'm not so sure.)

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It just seemed like Chinatown told such a complete story that to push onward was an exercise in futility.

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Yep...and the "dark magic" of the original Chinatown story is rather devalued here -- Jake looks at newspaper clips about the death of Evelyn Mulray and everything gets mundane.

Mr. Nicholson was just about at his heaviest when he made The Two Jakes, too. He would slim down for most of the 90's but THIS Jake Gittes looked too well fed to be suffering.

Nicholson was also compelled to add narration to the film that further took the mystery out of it.

That said, "the new case"(about the other Jake, Harvey Keitel , in a role first slotted for Dustin Hoffman and even Robert Evans) is OK and what little Jake here can do to give Chinatown a "happy sequel" is....satisfying.

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It felt like, "Oh, everybody liked that movie, let's make more whether it's warranted or not".

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That's what William Goldman meant by "whore movies."

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If a sequel focused on "life does go on" as a theme, that could be very interesting. Just showing the heroes trying to live normal lives. It'd be great fun - depending on how it was handled - watching Indiana Jones struggle to prepare lectures after he's witnessed the power of the Ark of the Covenant.

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Sequels are easy for movies like Indiana Jones -- and James Bond -- and Star Wars even. Or the Lethal Weapons back in the day. Eventually the first movie is forgotten and we have a "series" on our hands. Just like TV.

That said, the FIRST Die Hard is the classic. The FIRST Indy Jones is the classic. The FIRST Dirty Harry is the classic.

Truly great sequels are rare. Godfather II won the Best Picture Oscar -- there's your Number One. But at the box office, the movie earned less than half of the original. With Brando and Caan gone, we were stuck with a more arty film missing some of the flashiest characters.

Aliens is considered a fine -- and different -- sequel to Alien.

I think that's about it. Jaws II and Psycho II are famously worse than their forebears....

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Yes, it's easier with adventure films, but many of them still wind up being lacklustre. I've never been a fan (or even liked) Temple of Doom. Although From Russia with Love is my favourite Bond picture, so...there you go.

The ease there comes from the fact that adventure movies are often plot-driven and the characters are almost divorced from the action. Of course James Bond can go on another adventure. He doesn't really have character arcs like a lot of other characters do. The adventure can cycle up again!

Star Wars is an exception there where Luke's journey winds up getting *more* emphasis as the films go on.

Godfather II worked, I think, because they basically took the other bits from the book they didn't use in Part I and used them for a big chunk of the new film.

Most sequels wind up being clunkers, like Psycho II or Jaws II, because - as Goldman knows - they're nothing but whores.

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Yes, it's easier with adventure films, but many of them still wind up being lacklustre. I've never been a fan (or even liked) Temple of Doom. Although From Russia with Love is my favourite Bond picture, so...there you go.

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The Indiana Jones series makes a great case -- to me -- for the fact that movies -- like any form of narrative art -- work best when the story is told ONCE. Temple of Doom without Nazis, was a big drop-off in quality and interest from Raiders, and the third one(Last Crusade) tried to correct that by bringing back the Nazis and doing rather a re-tread of the first one(truck chase becomes tank chase.)

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The ease there comes from the fact that adventure movies are often plot-driven and the characters are almost divorced from the action. Of course James Bond can go on another adventure. He doesn't really have character arcs like a lot of other characters do. The adventure can cycle up again!

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Bond is a special case. The first one -- Dr. No -- is a rather cheap little near B movie. But it made big money. From Russia With Love has a "serious" Hitchockian feel to it. By Goldfinger, we reach the "Bond template" and a blockbuster hit. Thunderball was, too -- and then -- and people may not remember this -- starting with "You Only Live Twice," the Bond movies started fading in popularity along with all the American and British TV shows in Bond's wake(The Man From UNCLE, I Spy, The Wild Wild West, The Avengers.) Connery quit the series.

Bond "re-booted" over the decades but never really had the cultural power he had in the 60's. The new ones with Daniel Craig make big money, but the international movie market has changed -- EVERYTHING makes billions now. (Well, maybe when the pandemic recedes, it will again.)


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By the way, I've always felt it was "revolutionary" in the 60's, how Bond could end each film in the arms of a beautiful woman and...by the next movie..have dropped that woman for another one, or two, or three. It was a fantasy (for men) that seriously derailed the usual goal of the usual Hollywood romance: a man ends up with one woman, marries her, has kids with her, settles down. NOT James Bond. It messed with people's minds, I think -- that and Playboy and the sexual revolution.

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You're singin' my song. Indiana Jones Part 1 is one of the all-time great adventure movies. Part 2 is awful (either Willie or Short Round would qualify it for "most annoying side-kick of all time" award, but both? BOTH!?). Last Crusade has Sean Connery and he's charming and fun enough to float it, but it's not a great movie. It's still a shadow of number 1.

Bond is elemental, primal; he's a force of nature. He's masculinity personified. I think that mythic quality lets him exist without a plot arc and get subtly shifted with each reincarnation without losing the essence. As a result, he can "plug in" to a lot of stories.

Those early Conneries are awesome. I love the stripped-down mystery-thriller of Dr. No, but my favourite of the series is the Cold War spy film of From Russia with Love. Gotta love Goldfinger, too.

Yeah, Bond loses its footing as a popular series every now and then. I think we might be due another dip with No Time to Die. Between the Plague and a perception that it's "woke", it might get kicked. I think if they don't make the *perfect* choices with the next Bond, they'll see another slouch.

And, yeah, Bond has never been as influential as he was back in the '60s. I think that's true of all phenomenon film sagas, though. Star Wars is another good example. Doctor Who maybe is the exception, being quite influential during the Baker years and the Tennant years.

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Star Wars is an exception there where Luke's journey winds up getting *more* emphasis as the films go on.

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Yes. Lucas always saw that as a trilogy -- a long story with Vader's identity to be revealed in Part Two.

Still, I think in the original trilogy -- the first was the best. It was so new, so fun, so enthralling.

Critics like Empire Strikes Back, but I felt it was a "middle part" of a story, literally inconclusive, "To Be Continued.".

And by the time Return of the Jedi closed things out...we were used to it all and Harrison Ford was now too big a star for the supporting type part he played. He looked bored and didn't interact much with the rest of the movie.

As for the rest of them...I leave that to the ages.

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Godfather II worked, I think, because they basically took the other bits from the book they didn't use in Part I and used them for a big chunk of the new film.

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That's why Godfather II is unique among sequels. Half of it is STILL "The Godfather." The part of the book that was ejected from the first movie because it was too expensive to film but also -- says I -- too boring. I couldn't flip those pages fast enough to get back to the good stuff.

Michael's side of the story --newly written by Coppola -- seemed too pat to me: "Michael Corleone is no Vito Corleone." Oh, well. Yeah. The brother thing was the biggest deal and the core of the film, though.

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Most sequels wind up being clunkers, like Psycho II or Jaws II, because - as Goldman knows - they're nothing but whores.

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Its a rough word -- but totally descriptive of what's going on there.

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Very rare to meet a fellow Star Wars is greater than The Empire Strikes Back person. That's me, too. I think Empire is brilliant, but Star Wars is just a little tighter in terms of script.

I'm still skeptical that Lucas intended a trilogy. He goes back-and-forth in interviews, claiming it was supposed to be one movie, three movies, six movies, or nine movies, and he wasn't always just bumping up, either. Sometimes he say "Nine" and later say "Six" or something like that. What I do believe is that he wrote a BUNCH of backstory and additional material and went exploring that in the later films. I'm not so sure Vader was always planned as Luke's father, though.

The OT was definitely best. Luke goes from a farmboy dreaming of adventure to a sagely warrior-priest who knows that adventure and glory are not as important as the redemption of souls and family and higher values like that. It's great, and his character arc is more important than the action. That's one of the reasons that trilogy is so, so good.

I, too, care nothing for the PT or ST.

I was okay with most of the Vito's backstory stuff in the Godfather novel, although I do prefer the films, which liven them up. I prefer Vito's stuff with De Niro in Part II to Michael's stuff as well.

But either way, thank goodness they left out the subplot of "Loose Lucy" Mancini.

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That was more-or-less my guess; it seemed like it'd be okay, but couldn't live up to the original (an impossible task?), and suffer by the comparison. If it was its own movie, unfettered, maybe it'd have a better rep. But as is, the vibe is very much to forget it (Jake)...it's not Chinatown...

Devaluing the darkness sounds bad.

Frankly, any Chinatown sequel would have to be about Jake grappling with living in a world where he couldn't do anything about Noah Cross and/or trying to do something about Noah Cross - liberating the granddaughter, for instance.

I think I generally agree with Goldman, although I do think that there are quite a few sequels that turned out well despite their origins - not to mention planned sequels which don't carry that baggage.

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That was more-or-less my guess; it seemed like it'd be okay, but couldn't live up to the original (an impossible task?), and suffer by the comparison. If it was its own movie, unfettered, maybe it'd have a better rep. But as is, the vibe is very much to forget it (Jake)...it's not Chinatown...

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Ironically enough, The Two Jakes is screening right now on Amazon Prime. So I watched it.

It tracks with my memories. Though surprisingly, Nicholson doesn't look as heavy in it as he did in 1990...because he got even heavier in the 2000s. Still, he can't wear a tight suit anymore in this one.

Funny: this came right after Batman, and the real-life Nicholson friend who played the Joker's henchman Bob here has a serious role...with lengthy dialogue and : it just don't look or sound right. Tracey Walter. Nicholson could be a good pal.

Indeed, coming after Batman and The Witches of Eastwick, we here had the more "stereophonic" and lightly hammy Nicholson of the 80s, rather than the more serious fellow of 1974. It "infects" the story.

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Devaluing the darkness sounds bad.

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Yes, it rather is. Folks actually talk about Noah Cross and one character even speaks to the incest as if it were an "open secret". I rather skimmed the movie -- I missed whether of not Cross is dead(its 1948.) Probably.

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Frankly, any Chinatown sequel would have to be about Jake grappling with living in a world where he couldn't do anything about Noah Cross and/or trying to do something about Noah Cross - liberating the granddaughter, for instance.

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That enters into this story, to be sure. There are clips from Chinatown played as flashback memories and heavy use of photos and newspaper clipppings, its all too "on the nose."

One character even tells Jake -- AGAIN -- "You may think you know what's going on, but you don't." Slightly paraphrased. WAY too much on the nose.

The WORST thing in The Two Jakes is wall-to-wall narration read by Nicholson as if he is bored and not believing it himself. Sometimes Towne writes something profound for Nicholson to say, but often it is just exposition. Overkill.

There is one scene that's pretty sexy and pretty funny in which a new female character -- played by Madeleine Stowe -- goes a little nuts late at night alone in Jake's office and comes on to him for sex. Jake obliges -- but he is now overweight, worn out, hair-askew Jack Nicholson and Jack plays it for "I'm too tired for this" comedy. Rather undercuts Chinatown, but plays well in its own movie.

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I think I generally agree with Goldman, although I do think that there are quite a few sequels that turned out well despite their origins - not to mention planned sequels which don't carry that baggage.

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Well, planned sequels are often shot back to back so as to keep cast and crew together. I can't say that worked out too well for the Matrix and Pirates sequels.

I am sure that there are more sequels out there than Godfather II and Aliens which worked well. I just can't think of them right now.

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I do like the idea of the "I'm just too tired for sex" scene, mainly because we don't see that a lot in movies. We either see people striking out because they're losers or being erotic dynamos.

It's true that planned sequels didn't work with The Matrix and Pirates, but the sequels were planned as a chunk, but not planned with the original films.

I'm hard-pressed to think of a sequel I prefer to the original, even when the sequel is good. Aliens is inferior to Alien, I prefer Godfather I and Star Wars to their sequels, goodness knows The Matrix was eons above its sequels.

From Russia with Love. That's about it. The whole Bond series is a bit of an anomaly, though, with loads of great entries in a huge series, but it's unique and weird.

Other great sequels... X2, Spiderman 2, Logan, Batman Returns, The Dark Knight, Toy Story 2 (and 3), Blade Runner 2049 (I liked it, anyway...), Mad Max: Fury Road, and I've heard Elizabeth: The Golden Age was good. Does Lord of the Rings count? They're not really sequels...

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Hm...I don't think I'll stream it. I sorta feel like it might bump the value of Chinatown down in my head or something. I've got a to-watch list as long as my leg, anyway.

I love Henchman Bob, though.

Yeah, Noah Cross' secrets would never be open secrets.

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I like Tarantino, generally. Hateful Eight is the only one I haven't. I love Inglourious Basterds, too, so it's not just "his early stuff". Hateful Eight is a magnificent film. I did have mixed feelings walking out of it, because the cinematography is great (Tarantino makes endless snowbound landscapes and one cabin - kinda two locations total - look completely cinematic), the music is fantastic (Morricone is one of my favourite composers), and it's so well-done in every way. But the theme of the movie wasn't grabbing me. It just seemed like it was showing me nasty people going, "Ooh, look at how nasty they are," and Jerry Springer or reality TV are what comes to mind.

The coffee thing is great. The dialogue is funny. It's a cool movie, but for me the nihilism was overpowering, and not even in a commentary on nihilism sort of way, but just...yeah, Temptation Island or Big Brother or whatever.

I 100% agree that Tarantino has carried on some '70s film traditions. They do tend to have happy endings, but his don't feel trite or cheap most of the time. Kill Bill, for instance, has a mostly-happy ending, but the Bride doesn't get everything she wanted, and there's a bittersweetness there.

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I like Tarantino, generally.

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Tarantino is his own "study." I very much like what he does though I sure understand the haters. I think it should be noted that his cinematographer Robert Richardson says he's "the best director I have ever worked with." That's saying something -- and QT's main strength is his WRITING.

The usual "diss" on a filmmaker is to say "he's declined, he doesn't have it anymore," but I think that QT's last three pictures were better than the middle group before them. "Something happened" to QT in the six years between the "LA crime trilogy"(Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown.) He changed. But he got better again.

---Hateful Eight is the only one I haven't. I love Inglourious Basterds, too, so it's not just "his early stuff". Hateful Eight is a magnificent film. I did have mixed feelings walking out of it, because the cinematography is great (Tarantino makes endless snowbound landscapes and one cabin - kinda two locations total - look completely cinematic), the music is fantastic (Morricone is one of my favourite composers), and it's so well-done in every way.

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See? YOu can stop right there and at least get SOME of the greatness of Hateful Eight

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But the theme of the movie wasn't grabbing me. It just seemed like it was showing me nasty people going, "Ooh, look at how nasty they are," and Jerry Springer or reality TV are what comes to mind.

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I can see that ,too. I benefit from the fact that none of them particularly bothered me as "bad people." I accepted them as bad people. Even Sam Jackson's "hero" is a pretty bad person. And of course(SPOILERS) they all kill each other off.

Kurt Russell's incessant beating of Jennifer Jason Leigh(so nicely named Daisy Domergue) was a flame thrower at political correctness and QT just lapped up the complaints. That's how a bounty hunter would treat a woman he is taking to hanging, and we learn at the film's end that she's part of a gang that kills nice, innocent people. without mercy. QT felt she deserved every smack she got.

The dark joke at the center of Hateful Eight is that Kurt Russell's self-imposed rule of keeping his prisoners alive for hanging -- puts EVERYONE's life in danger, including his own. But that's a "side theme."

I think I like The Hateful Eight better than several QTS before it because the pace is better -- even for a long film, there's never a dull moment.

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The coffee thing is great.

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Yes. I could study that scene forever --the camera angles, the plot movement -- even Russell chaining Leigh to his arm again. She yells "no no no." He yells "yes yes yes." SHE knows she is now chained to a man who will soon die violently but not quickly enough to not kill her going down. Still, she can't help saying to him as he starts to die "When you get to hell, tell 'em Daisy sent you".

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The dialogue is funny.

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Very funny. QT is a great writer of comedies. Violent comedies.

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It's a cool movie, but for me the nihilism was overpowering, and not even in a commentary on nihilism sort of way, but just...yeah, Temptation Island or Big Brother or whatever.

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I can see that,and I won't argue it. They were, after all The Hateful Eight. A lot of rich and successful movie directors like to make movies about misery....

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I 100% agree that Tarantino has carried on some '70s film traditions. They do tend to have happy endings, but his don't feel trite or cheap most of the time. Kill Bill, for instance, has a mostly-happy ending, but the Bride doesn't get everything she wanted, and there's a bittersweetness there.

SPOILERS for some QT movies: The Bride gets her little girl back -- after thinking the baby never survived. Django gets his wife back -- and kills his and her slavers. The Basterds kill Hitler and all the top Nazis(but not the way they really died.) And Once Upon A Time In Hollywood gives us the heartbreaking happy ending of saving Sharon Tate and her unborn baby(and her friends) from her real-life horrifying death, and heroically killing off the real-life Manson scum who did it. The ultimate in fantasy fulfillment happy endings.

You might say that QT believes in the power of retroactive positive thinking.

(Gotta go for now.)

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You're right on all counts, and about how there's never a dull moment.

As I said: walking out I was conflicted. I didn't like it because of the take-away that the audience is left with (basically nothing), but every aspect of it was otherwise a top-ticket film.

It wasn't really about misery, though. It wasn't, from my take, really about anything at all other than just exploiting evil as entertainment.

The Bride did certainly get her greatest love (her child) at the end, and lived!, but she was conflicted about Bill at the end of it and was yearning for that perfect life that she can't have. That's why I think it was bittersweet.

Django ends happily, with the exception of Schultz, and IB gives us the catharsis of the ending at the expense of huge chunks of the cast. OUATIH is "happy", but you are left thinking about how it didn't go that way. It's very much a fantasy (as though the title didn't give it away) and there's a nostalgic quality to the film where you do feel like something is left behind in the magic of the old movies...

Retroactive positive thinking is a very good way of describing it.

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Watching stuff about bad people isn't inherently the problem, nor is something where the heroes are awful, too. I didn't have a problem with the stuff you're talking about - the slapping and whatnot. It's not negative movies or dark movies, it's just this...yeah, the wallowing in evil. The reality TV aspect. It's like the audience is supposed to sneer and go, "I'm better than these hateful people, now let's watch them GET each other!" it just felt vile.

Movies can be about vile people but still be a warning, like Chinatown, which features characters just as questionable (or worse) than H8, but its tone is very different.

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Watching stuff about bad people isn't inherently the problem, nor is something where the heroes are awful, too. I didn't have a problem with the stuff you're talking about - the slapping and whatnot. It's not negative movies or dark movies, it's just this...yeah, the wallowing in evil. The reality TV aspect. It's like the audience is supposed to sneer and go, "I'm better than these hateful people, now let's watch them GET each other!" it just felt vile.

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I am hearing your argument about the Jerry Springer qualities of The Hateful Eight, and I don't think I ever really considered it quite that way. On balance, I HATE Jerry Springer(is he even really on the air any more?) and exploitational reality shows, but I have also read that certain of these shows are a way for disenfranchised people to star in "down and dirty" entertainment for their own satisfaction. I dunno.

The Hateful Eight features bad people who are better written than most. And funny, too. Tim Roth's Oswaldo Mowbray is a verbally elegant, funny character -- the role was evidently written for Christoph Waltz and Roth here gets his funniest role for QT. Kurt Russell looks like Yosemite Sam and sounds like John Wayne as John Ruth "the Hangman" (great joke: Oswaldo Mowbray IS the hangman) and both qualities soften the edge of his surly character. And you've got Jennifer Jason Leigh channeling Granny Clampett("Yeah, that's right, we're all in CAHOOTS!")

With The Hateful Eight, I often find myself lingering on its great opening credit sequence -- a long slow pull-back from a snow-covered Jesus on the Cross wooden statue in the middle of snowy nowhere. Morricone's music is powerful, the imagery is powerful, we are "sucked in" to what will be equal parts Western, whodunit, and horror movie...with some profundity suggested by that statue. And Jesus comes back later in the movie as a pivotal "flashback shot." (Same statue, earlier in the day...clear blue sky, no snowstorm.)

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Movies can be about vile people but still be a warning, like Chinatown, which features characters just as questionable (or worse) than H8, but its tone is very different.

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Well, in Chinatown, though he's rough around the edges, Jake Gittes is at heart a good man out to do good...he fails at the end, and is left catatonic(LOTS of characters in 1974 movies were catatonic at the end) but we can imagine that maybe he led a life and "did something" to avenge the situation. (The Two Jakes suggests, "yes, he did" -- but it is simply not a good enough movie to matter.)

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Jake is a good person at his core, but I feel like, at the beginning of Chinatown, he's forgotten that he's good. He's snide, cynical, dismissive of Curly ("You can't eat the Venetian blinds, I just had 'em installed."), and so forth. As he goes along, he's still selfish, mostly caring about how his Mulray mystery has made him look bad. Eventually, as he uncovers the evil around him, his better aspects are dusted off and brought out.

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Hey, if people like Jerry Springer, they like it; I won't judge (too much).

Hateful Eight isn't exactly Jerry Springer, either. I just felt that was the attitude. It's obviously got more merit, and if somebody walked out satisfied by the artistic value of it, that's cool. It just wasn't enough for me personally.

It's a great opening shot...

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Hey, if people like Jerry Springer, they like it; I won't judge (too much).

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Just to make sure I'm clear: I certainly don't like it...an embarrassing exploitation of real human beings...but I did read an article somewhere that suggested it was a kind of "performance art" for the people on it.




Hateful Eight isn't exactly Jerry Springer, either. I just felt that was the attitude.

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I think that's a great analysis. None of us view or experience the same movie, the same way.

I would like to note that The Hateful Eight is also set in the aftermath of the American Civil War...and the film makes the point that for these people, the wounds from that war are hardly healed(the Southerners, cast as "the losers," are particularly ornery.). Its very much a warning about letting TODAY's "Civil War" talk to ever go too far. You wanna end up like The Hateful Eight?...keep on hating.

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It's a great opening shot...

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I think so. Sometimes I put in the DVD, watch that shot, listen to that music...and turn it off when the story starts. My own private film clip, just to "feel the mood."

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Oh, I didn't think you liked Jerry Springer. No, and I didn't want to imply that. But if somebody got a kick out of it...I get that. I wouldn't judge them assuming they weren't on a steady diet of it and weren't spiteful in real life. I also know you enjoy The Hateful Eight for qualities other than the negative side I'm describing.

If it had presented the Civil War aftermath angle more, I might have gotten more out of it. Although I do see that a bit. One of the only "uplifting" points are Marquis and Mannix setting aside those differences to bond over hoisting Daisy. That was a little bit too little, too late for me.

More people should definitely take to heart the idea to stop being divisive and to move on, and a lot of those people are definitely still present in the American South.

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Yeah, you can say that again. His films stand apart because they're so original, but at the same time they're almost collages of previous art forms. They're unique and homage at the same time. I would agree that his best asset is his writing, but here again is something unique. In anybody else' hands, it's hard to imagine a Tarantino script hitting its full potential. Because he's doing such genre film twisters, anybody else knowing how to direct, say, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood is unlikely at best.

"He doesn't have it anymore," is to directors what "I wasn't offended, it just wasn't that funny," is to comedians. Quentin's always had "it" for me. He's early stuff is original and fresh, Kill Bill is great, the later stuff is sensational. The worst ones, for me, are Hateful Eight and Death Proof. Even with those, I'll admit that Hateful Eight is masterfully made, I just hate that reality TV, revel in evil, almost snide quality to it, and with Death Proof, it's still fun, it's just - again - not much substance. I do like Death Proof better, though. Along with IB and DU, it's kind of his "long-awaited revenge-catharsis" films. Death Proof is vengeance for abused women, Inglourious Basterds is for Jewish people and other victims of the Nazis, and Django Unchained is for black people and other people who have been hurt by the American South and the slave trade.

Oh, yes. I will 100% acknowledge the quality of The Hateful Eight. It's writing is sharp, the characters are interesting, the mystery is compelling, the shots are extremely well done. In fact, it's basically wonderful but for the one thing holding it back: it is empty to the point of being exploitative or kind of pornographic, if you catch what I'm getting at. The opposite is something like Mad Men: it's about nasty people, they're often horrid, but the show is always aimed somewhere higher. The message, the theme, the implication, and so forth - that's all pointing to a better ideal.

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Maybe there's something to be said in your observations about Newman and Redford that it's not good to follow trends. Giving the audience a surprise is as good as anything, and they'll be entertained by Butch and Sundance or by The Sting, but they don't want to hear the same story the same way over and over again?

Downbeat does tend to result in fewer audience numbers.

I think that bifurcation is what I'm not a fan of. I've seen The Princess Bride and The Matrix. I've seen Annie Hall and The Maltese Falcon. Just because a movie is entertaining doesn't mean it can't be intellectually challenging or artistically powerful.

The '70s was a time when the mainstream and the arthouse were closer than ever, and more than ever that meant something. I don't want to glorify one era of filmmaking - all eras have their ups and downs and I'm not sure any one decade of film is "better" or "worse", but the upside of the '70s was that closeness in terms of destination for the films. I liked that. I like not needing to choose between art and entertainment.

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Maybe there's something to be said in your observations about Newman and Redford that it's not good to follow trends. Giving the audience a surprise is as good as anything, and they'll be entertained by Butch and Sundance or by The Sting, but they don't want to hear the same story the same way over and over again?

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I recall how the end of the trailer for The Sting rather gave away the twist, as the announcer said "Maybe this time...they'll get away with it." They didn't in Butch Cassidy.

Newman and Redford were courted for more films, but maybe they realized that their only two were TOO successful to try a third. One ends with them dead. One ends with them alive. One was the biggest hit of 1969. The other was the second biggest hit of 1973(behind The Exorcist.) Both were nominated for Best Picture, and one of them won. One has Redford with the moustache. One has Newman with the moustache. There was no where else to go.

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Downbeat does tend to result in fewer audience numbers.

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As a business matter, I think that was the final lesson of the 70's. Studio chiefs stopped greenlighting downers. Filmmakers like Robert Altman and Dennis Hopper and Bob Rafelson were cut loose. In the 80's in summer hits, characters rarely died -- they would be needed for sequels. ---

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I think that bifurcation is what I'm not a fan of.

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I recall the bifurcation being really strong in 1984. The summer hits were Ghostbusters, Indy Jones and the Temple of Doom, Star Trek III, Gremlins. The Best Picture nominees were Amadeus and The Killing Fields and Places in the Heart and other dramas. The "mix" you get in a prestige blockbuster like The Godfather or a good genre movie like Chinatown, started to recede.

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I've seen The Princess Bride and The Matrix. I've seen Annie Hall and The Maltese Falcon. Just because a movie is entertaining doesn't mean it can't be intellectually challenging or artistically powerful.

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Oh, I'm with you on that. Again, 1974 rather "overloaded the deck" with downers, but I liked all of them and none of THOSE movies needed to have happy endings, they wouldn't have fit.

The Longest Yard is a special case. Big hit, Burt Reynolds biggest hit to that date. He wins the big prison football game at the end -- but is evidently going to be put away for life, on a murder frame, by the crooked warden, and he wins the game IN SPITE of knowing that will be the consequence. A corrupt man(Reynolds) finds redemption at the end, but will lose his freedom. Or will he? We can HOPE that he can expose the crooked warden(Eddie Albert) and escape the murder frame but..the movie simply doesn't give us the satisfaction of knowing that. We take the drama at its word -- Reynolds gives up his freedom of the sake of his fellow convicts.

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The '70s was a time when the mainstream and the arthouse were closer than ever, and more than ever that meant something.

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It did. The mistake for a number of us was in believing it "would always be that way," and to forget the mentality of the people who RUN the movie business...corporations. This led to the end of a lot of auteur filmmakers, too. There was one named Michael Ritchie who made serious even when comic films "about competition" in The late 60's and 70's(Downhill Racer, The Candidate, The Bad News Bears, Semi-Tough) -- but by the 80's he was assigned to faceless dreck like The Island and Fletch Lives and his auteur days were over. Cancelled by the studios.

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I don't want to glorify one era of filmmaking - all eras have their ups and downs and I'm not sure any one decade of film is "better" or "worse", but the upside of the '70s was that closeness in terms of destination for the films. I liked that. I like not needing to choose between art and entertainment.

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I agree with all of that. I think that "The Godfather" (the first one ONLY) is the greatest movie that mixed together art and commerce, blockbuster and Best Picture winner, in such a way as to show us all how good a fun movie could be.

I remember slowly feeling -- as the 80's went on - that the movies were heading more for kid audiences and -- worse still -- starting to look like "TV series on the big screen"(the Beverly Hills Cop movies; the Lethal Weapon movies -- plus movies MADE from TV shows like The Untouchables and The Flintstones) but...fine films were made in the 80s too. And the 90's. And today. (Well, as soon as we can get into the theaters again everywhere.)

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"This summer...Newman and Redford are back...and they've got the most stunning, shocking, thrilling, and exciting facial hair of any major motion picture staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford... now playing in: THE TWO MOUSTACHES!"

Part of the problem is greed, too. Even if a sombre film makes a lot of money (Annie Hall grabbed a huge chunk of dough for its budget, Chinatown was a good success compared with its budget), there is *more* money made with a happy film. It's not like audiences won't find, love, and pay for dour films, but studios know that more audiences will watch brighter, happier films. Studios don't just want a successful film, or even a film that rakes in millions of dollars; they want a film that rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars.

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"This summer...Newman and Redford are back...and they've got the most stunning, shocking, thrilling, and exciting facial hair of any major motion picture staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford... now playing in: THE TWO MOUSTACHES!"

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Hey, why didn't they think of that? The PERFECT third film. And then they could do a fourth where neither or them wears a moustache...

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Part of the problem is greed, too. Even if a sombre film makes a lot of money (Annie Hall grabbed a huge chunk of dough for its budget, Chinatown was a good success compared with its budget), there is *more* money made with a happy film. It's not like audiences won't find, love, and pay for dour films, but studios know that more audiences will watch brighter, happier films. Studios don't just want a successful film, or even a film that rakes in millions of dollars; they want a film that rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars.

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That's where things are today -- corporate control. And we have heard of public screenings with preview cards and "notes" being given up front. Modern day "Oscar bait" like Parasite can still be downer in outlook...but generally that's films not made in America, or indies.

And there is this: studios want repeat business. Downers rarely get that. Even The Sting got a re-release in the 70's with this tag line: "Don't you want to feel that great Sting experience again?"

I'm losing track of which posts I'm responding to, but there is very much this: there are movies that HAVE to end tragically, and movies that HAVE to end happily. Chinatown HAD to end tragically.

No less a box office winner than Alfred Hitchcock took the hit, with Vertigo in 1958, to give his audience an unhappy ending that the movie HAD to have. The very next year in 1959, Hitch whipped up a concoction with the happiest ending he ever had: North by Northwest. NXNW was the MUCH bigger hit, but Hitchcock knew he could cover the loss on the great Vertigo with a hit and still keep a career.

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Oh, and, uh...probably don't watch Requiem for a Dream.

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I did and it was certainly a test: just how grim could a movie be and I could still watch it.

This was about rock bottom. Though it did seem to have a "public service message" about hard drugs and Jennifer Connolly even suffering was still..Jennifer Connolly.

Truth be told, for me, I can pretty much handle any "depressing movie" nowadays without lasting impact on my psyche. Its only a movie.

The two most depressing movies I have ever seen (and felt so at the time) were Jack Lemmon in Save the Tiger(a 70's movie) and Nicholson and Streep in Ironweed(an 80's movie.)

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I think Requiem's as dark as it gets to my thinking. I can't think (off the top of my head) of a darker film. I suppose holocaust stuff, but a lot of those wind up being uplifting like Schindler's List.

Jennifer Connolly is always Jennifer Connolly...

As long as a depressing movie has a sense of value to it, I'm in. Requiem is the best don't-do-drugs film out there, but it's brutal. It's a high-calibre film, but it's brutal. I'll watch whatever if it's great.

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Moustache 1, Moustache 2, 2 Moustaches, No Moustaches, Beards! A whole franchise!

Yeah, and Oscar bait films are often not super-successful. Studios do them for clout and to attract stars.

Apparently Chinatown's first couple drafts had a happy ending, and then a happy...er ending, and Polanski kept insisting it had to be tragic and I think he wound up re-writing it himself.

Hitchcock was a genius, and artist, and very wily and savvy all at the same time... I love every film of his I've seen to a greater or lesser extent.

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Moustache 1, Moustache 2, 2 Moustaches, No Moustaches, Beards! A whole franchise!

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The Newman/Redford Facial Hair Canon.

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Yeah, and Oscar bait films are often not super-successful. Studios do them for clout and to attract stars.

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Particularly MODERN Oscar bait movies, which are often on obscure topics and don't always have stars.

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Apparently Chinatown's first couple drafts had a happy ending, and then a happy...er ending, and Polanski kept insisting it had to be tragic and I think he wound up re-writing it himself.

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I just cannot picture Chinatown with a happy ending. Its a tragedy. Its a particular TYPE of tragedy(like Vertigo) about a man who gets someone killed when he tries to help them,and then tries to help another person, and gets them killed too. Among other things.

It has been noted that with President Nixon being forced to resign in August of 1974 -- about 2 months into the summer run of Chinatown -- that that refuted the idea that powerful bad men could never be taken down. But Noah Cross was emblematic of far more power and corruption than a mere President. He wanted to own the future...and he betrayed his role as a father in the worst possible way.

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Hitchcock was a genius, and artist, and very wily and savvy all at the same time... I love every film of his I've seen to a greater or lesser extent.

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I "entered movies" as fan through the vessel of Hitchcock. He didn't win any Oscars but I think the years have proven that he was the most creative and influential filmmaker of his time. A showman, and artist, and a consummate businessman. He made movies, but he was a top TV star(a hit show with a ten-year run), and he allowed books for adults, books for kids, a Mystery Magazine, and other products circle all around him.

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Jennifer Connolly is always Jennifer Connolly...

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Yes, but as it has turned out, there are two Jennifer Connollys...

..."in the beginning" in the 90's, she was curvaceous and voluptuous and had a face and body combination that made both teenage boys and grown men cry just watching her. Unattainable. In The Hot Spot and Mullholland Falls, she went for some nudity, and no one will ever forget that.

Over time, she lost a lot of (gorgeous) weight, took a lot of serious roles, won an Oscar and...well' she's still a beauty but clearly her sexpot days are voluntarily behind her.

Its sort of like when Arnold Schwarzengger stopped going nude(The Terminator) or stopped wearing speedos in movies(Commando), and kept his shirt on...

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Great exchange between you two, ecarle and Ace. Engaging read.

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Thanks, Anubis. I assumed nobody else would bother reading through all this, but it's nice knowing that somebody else is having fun, too.

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Yeah, it's surprising that Towne wanted it, but that's what I've heard. I think I read that in Screenplay by Syd Field, which is a great how-to manual. I'm not sure if Chinatown would be in the newest editions, though, since he probably updates it every now and then. The version I bought had a lot of references to Cold Mountain and Fellowship of the Ring - he might have swapped those out for more recent movies (Chinatown is probably pretty evergreen, though). All that's assuming that the story is in there...can't quite remember if that's true and my copy of Screenplay is on-loan to a friend right now.

Nixon's resignation is the exception that proves the rule. Not to mention that Tricky Dick didn't really pay for it. He resigned, okay that's bad, but he also got a pardon and escaped without much personal harm as far as that goes.

Hitchcock's lack of Oscars is a pretty scathing indictment of the Academy, isn't it? Of course, it does depend on who he was up against. Rear Window (my personal favourite Hitchcock) would have fought On the Waterfront for the crown - that's a tough fight. Vertigo, on the other hand, would have gone up against, uh...Gigi...so...

Hitchcock understood the value of entertainment and fun and he never let "art" get in the way of fun, nor did he sacrifice the value of the art for fun. He was a rare one.

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Yeah, it's surprising that Towne wanted it, but that's what I've heard.

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Me, too. Maybe had Chinatown been made in the 40s or 50s, a happy ending would have fit -- a "David and Goliath" story in which "the little guy" DID bring down the power broker. (Frank Capra would have directed THAT, with Edward Arnold or Lionel Barrymore as Noah Cross and no incest.)

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I think I read that in Screenplay by Syd Field, which is a great how-to manual. I'm not sure if Chinatown would be in the newest editions, though, since he probably updates it every now and then. The version I bought had a lot of references to Cold Mountain and Fellowship of the Ring - he might have swapped those out for more recent movies (Chinatown is probably pretty evergreen, though). All that's assuming that the story is in there...can't quite remember if that's true and my copy of Screenplay is on-loan to a friend right now.

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Well, when the book comes back to you , you can let us know. That would be great.

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Nixon's resignation is the exception that proves the rule. Not to mention that Tricky Dick didn't really pay for it. He resigned, okay that's bad, but he also got a pardon and escaped without much personal harm as far as that goes.

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Well, I suppose my point..and it might be a naïve one...is that I just think politicians CAN be taken down or out or rendered moot. A Noah Cross is a much harder nut to crack.

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Hitchcock's lack of Oscars is a pretty scathing indictment of the Academy, isn't it?

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The Snub of all Snubs. What's crazy making about it, is that given what we know about the Oscars, OF COURSE they weren't going to let him win. He "only made thrillers," not expensive epics, not musicals(with big creative teams), not "important human stories."

Hitchcock didn't need to win more than , say, three or four Best Director Oscars to be remembered. I think John Ford won four. And nobody was going to give Hitchcock an Oscar for weaker movies like Topaz or Torn Curtain or The Paradine Case or Saboteur.

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Of course, it does depend on who he was up against. Rear Window (my personal favourite Hitchcock) would have fought On the Waterfront for the crown - that's a tough fight. Vertigo, on the other hand, would have gone up against, uh...Gigi...so...

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Rear Window was a huge hit, so "competitive" with On the Waterfront. Hitchcock got nominated for Best Director for Rear Window, but the movie was not nominated. So Waterfront won both. I'd have given Director AND Picture to Hitchcock and Rear Window over Waterfront. Simply a greater achievement.

Same goes for Psycho in 1960. Again, Hitchcock got a Best Director nom, but the movie wasn't nominated. I love The Apartment, but Psycho was a much bigger historical cinematic achievement.

Vertigo wasn't much of a hit(like Rear Window or Psycho) so it wasn't very competitive with Gigi.

Notorious was great, but came out in the year of both The Best Years of Our Lives(the favorite and about something: the aftermatch of WWII) and Its a Wonderful Life.

It were up to me, I'd give Rear Window and Psycho both the Picture and Director Oscars. I'd give Hitchcock a Best Director Oscar to go with the Best Picture win for Rebecca. That's probably enough to secure his Oscar "bona fides."

I'd also give Anthony Perkins Best Actor for Psycho(he wasn't even nominated); Cary Grant Best Actor for North by Northwest(a "career salute" rather like John Wayne's for True Grit, but Grant WAS good, and not nominated either) and Janet Leigh the 1960 Best Actress Oscar for Psycho(she was nominated for real, and lost, as Supporting Actress.)

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Hitchcock understood the value of entertainment and fun and he never let "art" get in the way of fun, nor did he sacrifice the value of the art for fun. He was a rare one.

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I think what people have to realize over time is that Hitchcock was making movies entirely different from what the rest of Hollywood was doing at the time. I'm not just talking about them being thrillers -- I'm talking about how Hitchcock worshipped visual cinematic ideas OVER "the story or the acting or the characters." Other filmmakers were usually making "plays or novels on film" and very much kowtowing to the stars.

Hitchcock would make sure that a movie like Psycho had a scene where the camera followed Perkins up the stairs, turned in mid-air and looked down o him for the SHEER VISUAL ART of "making a movie." Same with Rear Window and its multitude of POV shots of Stewart's view across the courtyard. Cinema came first with Hitchcock...and a lot of directors simply didn't know HOW to do what he did.

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100%.

But Hitchcock was never just showing off. I've brought up Rear Window in dozens of conversations just to talk about the opening shots and how they establish location, environment, theme, character, story, and exposition, without saying a word. It's brilliant. But he wasn't just showing off how to do a great, panning, POV shot, he was telling his story.

But, yes, I 100% agree that Hitchcock was a movie master and not just a story master, and his influence should be more recognized.

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It probably could have competed with On the Waterfront, but I'm not sure which is the better film. I love both, and for largely different reasons. The win or loss might be debatable, but the lack of nomination is silly.

I would actually go for The Apartment over Psycho, but that's just me. I get why Psycho's great, too, and is competitive.

Haven't seen Gigi, but I'm willing to bet I'd go for Vertigo.

I forgot about Notorious! Notorious is great.

Perkins should have been nominated for SURE.

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Chinatown 1955, starring James Stewart as Jake "J.J." Gittes. I'd watch it. If it were Billy Wilder and not Frank Capra, though, I'd watch it more.

I'll let you know when I get it the book back.

Politicians certainly can be taken down. I think that real life shows us that the little guy can achieve victories here and there. While era to era The Man seems to win and my cynical side reigns supreme, if we look at humanity's history as a whole we see a lot of social and political progress. At least we're out of the era where the Noah Crosses of the world were thought to have a God-given right to power (mostly), and democracy has curbed this slightly (if only slightly - the past few years have been quite nasty).

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Chinatown 1955, starring James Stewart as Jake "J.J." Gittes. I'd watch it. If it were Billy Wilder and not Frank Capra, though, I'd watch it more.

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Yeah, me too. Mr. Capra made some fine films but seemed to lack Wilder's mordant views.

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Politicians certainly can be taken down. I think that real life shows us that the little guy can achieve victories here and there. While era to era The Man seems to win and my cynical side reigns supreme, if we look at humanity's history as a whole we see a lot of social and political progress. At least we're out of the era where the Noah Crosses of the world were thought to have a God-given right to power (mostly), and democracy has curbed this slightly (if only slightly - the past few years have been quite nasty).

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Well, the pendulum swings. Noah Crosses are in different places, on different sides, at different times.

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Wilder was another one with the eye for art and entertainment in equal measure, and you've got to love a guy who can go from dark noir thrillers to comedy farces without dropping the ball. 1 2 3 is underrated.

The pendulum swings...very true.

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Great movie. Not for everyone though. Cinephiles are definitely into it.

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(Tarantino's) films stand apart because they're so original, but at the same time they're almost collages of previous art forms. They're unique and homage at the same time.

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Tarantino -- whom I call "QT" for shorthand -- earned his stripes by single handedly creating himself as a "new type of auteur" in a decade that needed one. Scorsese rather had the field to himself. DePalma was on the fade, and Spielberg -- despite the one-two punch in 1993 of Jurassic Park and Schindler's List -- missed as often as he hit(Always, Hook.) A younger generation needed somebody to show up and shake things up -- and that was QT.

His calling card -- like Hitchcock before him -- was crime and violence. There are no "gentle dramas" in the QT canon. (Hollywood came close...until the ultra-violent and hilarious Manson Family climax arrived.)

Punching back when his movies were accused of being offensive, QT retorted "You know what I find offensive? That boring Merchant-Ivory shit!" Hah. Too each his own. He had a point. He also likened himself to a Heavy Metal music artist -- you EXPECT them to play loud and hard. You EXPECT QT to play offensive and violent.

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I would agree that his best asset is his writing,

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Absolutely. I could listen to the speeches from Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown again and again.

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but here again is something unique. In anybody else' hands, it's hard to imagine a Tarantino script hitting its full potential.

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Yes, that was proven with the films shot from his scripts of Natural Born Killers and even True Romance(the Walken/Hopper scene is pure QT, but the rest of the film plays too "slick.")

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Why did you bring up QT?

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Because he's doing such genre film twisters, anybody else knowing how to direct, say, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood is unlikely at best.

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Exactly. One reason I loved Hollywood is that it felt at once totally different from his previous work(notably less violent) and took me/us places I had no idea I was going. You don't get to make a film like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood unless you are already an established and in-demand auteur. You wouldn't just try to sell that script.

Personal bonus: I was just a kid, but I lived in LA and listened to KHJ radio in that same time period. He recreated it for me...."The Invaders" TV show on a bus stop bench, for instance.

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Why did you bring up QT?

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Its where the conversation took us.

Just like in real life.

...but wait...I realize that your comment about Chinatown ended up right before that response to another poster, Ace Spade, about QT.

I am sorry about that.

Also: I suppose one could draw a line from Chinatown to the works of QT. The ultra-violence(what happens to Nicholson's nose.) Oscar-winning screenplay(QT has two of those.) "Offensive" sexual content that is nonetheless profound. Etc...

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"He doesn't have it anymore," is to directors what "I wasn't offended, it just wasn't that funny," is to comedians. Quentin's always had "it" for me.

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I've been reading movie critics for a long time(decades) and bad critics can get as "predictable" as bad film makers.

I'll use the example of two Oscar winners.

"In the beginning," critics roundly praised Joe Pesci(and he won the Oscar for GoodFellas) and Christoph Waltz(and he won the Oscar for Inglorious Basterds.") These two actors were "powerful...dynamic...entertaining."

And within a few more movies...the love affair was over. "Its just Joe Pesci doing his usual schitck." "Its just Christoph Waltz doing his usual schtick." Critics seemed UPSET when Waltz won a second Oscar for a second QT film...but as far as I was concerned it was a better role in a marginally better film, and now Walz has played both a great villain(Basterds) and a great hero(Django) for QT, winning the Oscar both times.

QT has made a "pre-emptive strike" on critics by contending he will only make 10 films and retire. Basing this wrongly on the late careers of unhealthy old guys like Hitchcock and Billy Wilder(rather than new and healthier old guys like Ridley Scott), QT says he wants to quit before he loses his mojo. That hasn't stopped SOME critics from saying QT's lost it, anyway -- but then he gets his biggest hit in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and an Oscar for Brad Pitt in the bargain. "QT will prevail." (I mean, both Pitt AND Leo took cuts in their usual salaries to work with QT on that movie; hardly a has been.)

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