Re: RARA-AVIS: Polanski's Chinatown

Date: 13 Feb 2007

Juri wrote:

"I think CHINATOWN discusses and criticizes the manly myths as openly and potently as does Altman's film."

I'll do you one better. Though I've been among Altman's defenders, I think Chinatown deconsructs the image of the hardboiled PI far more effectively. In fact, I've long believed Chinatown to be the definitive generations and genre break in PI fiction.

SPOILER ALERT (but has anyone on this list not seen Chinantown? Correct that right now if you haven't)

And it's Polanski's new ending that highlights the difference, moving from small, personal victories in a corrupt world (as Towne's ending had it, Evelyn killing Cross and stoically standing trial for his murder while Gittes spirits her daughter away to Mexico) to complete ineffectiveness, if not making things worse (as Evelyn is killed and Cross gets custody of his daughter/granddaughter, the product of his incest).

"J.J. Gittes is no hero - he could be even less a hero than Gould's Marlowe. In my eyes, he's more closer to Mike Hammer in Aldrich and Bezzerides's KISS ME DEADLY: manifestly well off, but sleazy nevertheless."

That's a very good comparison. Another very good movie, and one I would agree was disrespectful towards its source material (Spillane is said to have hated it), improving upon it in the process.


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