Friday, November 30, 2007
Transcendent Contempo Classic
Writing about the latest DVD releases provides your everyday popcult nitcrit with a proven path to pure cinematic nirvana, as it seems nearly every other week brings about a re-release, a reissue, or a director’s cut of a bonafide movie classic. 1974’s Chinatown (Paramount, 130 minutes,$14.99), a fine intertwining or art and commercialism (box office boffo, multiple Oscar nominations, and a transcendent exercise in genre), also managed to exquisitely combine the varied (but exemplary) talents of a superior screenwriter (Robert Towne), an actor who was climbing new heights (Jack Nicholson), an actress at the top of her game (Faye Dunaway, a heavy that was so much more than that (John Huston), a near perfect soundtrack (Jerry Goldsmith), absolutetly impeccable cinematography (John Alonzo), and a director who was channeling his sharp European sensibilities into the Hollywood dream machine to great effect (Roman Polanski). Chinatown may or may not be the last great noir picture, but its poetic depiction of a sun-drenched California just as corrosive and confined as any neon lit and dark shadowed mean street, it’s peppery nods and winks to the grand tradition of Hammet and Chandler, and it’s truly empyrean existential finale mark it as one of the most haunting and vivid hard boiled movies ever. Evuuuuuhhhhhh. The one-hour of extras included is valuable primarily for the sharp observations of Towne, a lynch pin who figuratively and literally held the film and it’s principles-Nicholson, Polanski, and producer Robert Evans, together.