Sergio Leone Web Board

Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: The Firecracker on March 03, 2008, 05:13:47 PM



Title: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: The Firecracker on March 03, 2008, 05:13:47 PM
If you ask the question "what was the best American film of the 70's" most people would say Godfather or Taxi Driver as their answer. Not me. Chinatown runs circles around those two overly indulgent movies.

I was surprised this has yet to have a thread here. I'd be interested in hearing what everybody's thoughts on the film are.

To me it is probably the best American movie of recent history (past 45 years), along with Little Big Man and Bonnie and Clyde.

Even if Polanski is a rapist piece of shit, there is no denying his talent.



Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 03, 2008, 06:04:43 PM
I like this film better than anything Francis Fraud Crap-ola ever made, and better than Scorcese's 70s pictures (with the exception, maybe, of New York, New York). It's got a good story, a fantastic score, great cinematography, and of course, bravura performances (I fault the art direction a bit: everything looks too new, too unused, like we're looking at displays in a museum). Nicholson is great, Dunaway was never better, Burt Young is Burt Young, and Huston is . . . well, the bit where he says , "Mr. Gittes, I drink your milkshake," always gives me goosebumps. Easily the best Hollywood film in its year of release.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Noodles_SlowStir on March 03, 2008, 09:37:28 PM
Definitely what Dave said.  Not only is it one of the great films, it's also one of my favorites.  As mentioned, from opening credits to ending credits, it's a film that approaches perfection on a level that most can't even imagine.  When I watch it,  I always consider how superior it is to The Godfather Part II.  Not surprisingly, the academy definitely blew that one as well.  Besides Huston and Young, a lot of the other supporting performances are pretty nice too (Diane Ladd, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Joe Mantell, Bruce Glover and James Hong).  Had a chance to see it on the big screen as well  O0.       


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: geoman-1 on March 04, 2008, 04:06:05 PM
I think I would include this film in my top 10 of all times. A true classic.
And I especially loved the soundtrack that created that ambiance in the
film. O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Tucumcari Bound on March 04, 2008, 04:17:10 PM
I like this film better than anything Francis Fraud Crap-ola ever made, and better than Scorcese's 70s pictures (with the exception, maybe, of New York, New York). It's got a good story, a fantastic score, great cinematography, and of course, bravura performances (I fault the art direction a bit: everything looks too new, too unused, like we're looking at displays in a museum). Nicholson is great, Dunaway was never better, Burt Young is Burt Young, and Huston is . . . well, the bit where he says , "Mr. Gittes, I drink your milkshake," always gives me goosebumps. Easily the best Hollywood film in its year of release.

Francis Ford Crapola? You're nuts.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: The Firecracker on March 04, 2008, 04:25:25 PM
Francis Ford Crapola? You're nuts.


Francis FRAUD Crapola, If you please. ;)


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: PowerRR on March 04, 2008, 04:40:11 PM
One of the best of 70's cinema, for sure.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on August 16, 2008, 11:07:22 AM
This film would be merely great if it weren't for Polanski's mise-en-scene, which takes the whole thing to a higher level of art. Unlike American directors, he tends not to use many establishing shots. Instead, he jumps right into a scene, forcing viewers to pay strict attention.

Here is a rare example of an establishing shot, one of only a handful in the film.
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/7322/china16ba3.png)

Early on, Polanski establishes his use of depth-of-field.
(http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/9159/china1ov0.png)

Here he combines depth-of-field with a character POV shot.
(http://img378.imageshack.us/img378/5830/china11mv7.png)

Character POV shots are infrequent, Polanski preferring over-the-shoulder ones that enable us to see what Nicholson's character sees from the side (we aren't the character, but we are with him). Polanski never follows these with reaction shots of Nicholson: he lets us make up our own minds about things.
(http://img133.imageshack.us/img133/927/china21hx0.png)
(http://img374.imageshack.us/img374/687/china22ja2.png)
(http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1846/china23hq8.png)

When using characters in a depth-of-field shot, Polanski likes to cover three planes whenever possible: foreground, middle, and back.
(http://img513.imageshack.us/img513/1444/china9kt6.png)

He is not, post-Antonioni, above the occasional tableau:
(http://img167.imageshack.us/img167/639/china2ik1.png)

He can also produce a tableau with impressive depth-of-field:
(http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/4751/china18fy1.png)

A three-plane depth-of-field shot with two actors: Nicholson's reflection in the background glass completes the triad.
(http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/2729/china4xu3.png)

Here is an excellent example of P's compositional technique in a single-take scene. John Hillerman, in the foreground, is looking at Nicholson, middle, who is looking at another man, back. The axis is right-to-left.
(http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/4731/china5vm8.png)

Hillerman crosses to frame left, creating a triangle that speaks to the conflict generating in the scene.
(http://img104.imageshack.us/img104/5224/china6cw5.png)

The triangle collapses; tension mounts.
(http://img388.imageshack.us/img388/7978/china7ev7.png)

Tension is diffused, and a new alignment is established, left to right. The new character has supplanted Nicholson and is now in the middle position; Nicholson, about to exit behind elevator doors, is now in the background.
(http://img388.imageshack.us/img388/2661/china8wd8.png)

Symmetry is all: bye bye for now.
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/7231/china3vs5.png)


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on August 16, 2008, 12:23:13 PM
The Leone connection:
(http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/8251/jack10dv7.png)
(http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/6951/jack1rm5.png)
(http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/9849/jack2ho7.png)
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/6554/jack3dv2.png)
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/8227/jack4ye3.png)
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/8654/jack5rg0.png)
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/6475/jack6xa9.png)
(http://img177.imageshack.us/img177/2928/jack7vg4.png)


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on August 16, 2008, 01:25:58 PM
Speaking of Leone, has it occurred to anyone else that Chinatown does for the PI film what OUATITW did for the Western? I've spotted allusions and even direct quotes to The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: T.H. on August 16, 2008, 02:04:51 PM
Great post, Jenkins. I'm going to have to revisit Chinatown in the next few days and watch with your comments directly in mind.

The "OUATITW of film noir" question you pose is very intriguing and to give an answer, I don't think it's quite the post-modern farewell/love letter to the genre. Like you said, the film is too pretty; and while I think it's one of the finer American movies I've seen, I think the fact that it's not filmed in B&W makes it void of that claim alone. Chinatown is also idiosyncratic in how it was made. It's almost if someone described the genre at length to Polanski and Towne and they said to themselves, "Yeah, I could do that". I don't think they necessary "blew up" and dissected the genre in the manner of Leone and co. I hope this post made some sense, it feels very awkward to me.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on August 16, 2008, 03:22:12 PM
If you ask the question "what was the best American film of the 70's" most people would say Godfather or Taxi Driver as their answer.

Depending on their age. I don't know much about these questions, but I presume that in USA Star Wars would be a more likely contender for the Godafather. And is Taxi Driver that popular in the USA?




Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on August 16, 2008, 09:48:25 PM
The "OUATITW of film noir" question you pose is very intriguing and to give an answer, I don't think it's quite the post-modern farewell/love letter to the genre. Like you said, the film is too pretty; and while I think it's one of the finer American movies I've seen, I think the fact that it's not filmed in B&W makes it void of that claim alone. Chinatown is also idiosyncratic in how it was made. It's almost if someone described the genre at length to Polanski and Towne and they said to themselves, "Yeah, I could do that". I don't think they necessary "blew up" and dissected the genre in the manner of Leone and co. I hope this post made some sense, it feels very awkward to me.
I was careful not to mention "film noir" which I think is something of a myth; I had in mind the more specific category of the private detective film, of which there aren't all that many. As I said, I think there are definite references to PI films in Chinatown. The first visit to the Mulray house, for example, closely resembles Bogart's arrival at the Sternwood mansion at the beginning of The Big Sleep. There is even a couple shots of a car being washed (referencing the plot point in TBS having to do with the Sternwood's chauffeur), which has absolutely nothing to do with anything in Chinatown.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: T.H. on August 17, 2008, 03:49:45 PM
I was careful not to mention "film noir" which I think is something of a myth; I had in mind the more specific category of the private detective film, of which there aren't all that many. As I said, I think there are definite references to PI films in Chinatown. The first visit to the Mulray house, for example, closely resembles Bogart's arrival at the Sternwood mansion at the beginning of The Big Sleep. There is even a couple shots of a car being washed (referencing the plot point in TBS having to do with the Sternwood's chauffeur), which has absolutely nothing to do with anything in Chinatown.

Sorry for the misinterpretation of your original question, but wouldn't Chinatown be more of a nod to Chandler than say the PI film? I certainly see the similarities and am familiar with the scenes in question, but I really don't have a suitable answer. I will need to look further into this subject as I don't see any other direct references to other PI films. Consider me stumped for now.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: The Firecracker on August 17, 2008, 03:58:47 PM
And is Taxi Driver that popular in the USA?

Its canonization is a mystery to me.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on August 17, 2008, 06:21:08 PM
Its canonization is a mystery to me.

Canonization I think is something I link to the pro critics. Popular is something I refer to the general public. I doubt this prefer TD to SW, though I presume it is difficult to make such evaluations.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on August 17, 2008, 07:57:08 PM
More Leoneine moments in Chinatown:

Late in the picture, Jake goes to the abandoned Mullray house and calls Noah Cross and asks him to come over. An hour later, Cross slinks in. The two have a discussion in a fairly tight two-shot. The pair would appear to be alone, but at one point Cross gives a command to Claude, his muscle. Suddenly the other man's arm thrusts into frame, seemingly coming from nowhere. In the real world, there is no way the guy could have surprised Jake like that: this appears to be another example of the technique SL used in GBU: people and things outside of frame are not visible to the people on screen until those people or things enter the frame.

Burt Young performs in the first scene of the movie, then disappears. Almost 2 hours later, after we've long forgotten about him, he suddenly re-enters the story. Burt Young is Polanski's Al Mullock!

Once you start looking, the hand of the Master is everywhere.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Silenzio on August 17, 2008, 11:01:43 PM
If you ask the question "what was the best American film of the 70's" most people would say Godfather or Taxi Driver as their answer.

Actually, I'd go for Crapola's other big movie... Apocalypse Now.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on August 17, 2008, 11:02:12 PM
Burt Young performs in the first scene of the movie, then disappears. Almost 2 hours later, after we've long forgotten about him, he suddenly re-enters the story. Burt Young is Polanski's Al Mullock!

Once you start looking, the hand of the Master is everywhere.

Good observation O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on July 11, 2009, 11:03:24 AM
Absolutely spot-on:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204261704574274152752739772.html

Quote
The Perfect Film Score
At 35, Goldsmith’s ‘Chinatown’ sounds better than ever


By TERRY TEACHOUT

New York

Does film music really matter to the average moviegoer? A great score, after all, can’t save a bad film, and a bad score--so it’s said--can’t sink a good one. Well into the ’40s, it wasn’t uncommon for big-budget Hollywood movies to contain little or no underscoring, and many of today’s directors, following the lead of Martin Scorsese in “GoodFellas,” accompany their films with pop records, not original music. So why bother hiring a high-priced composer and a 50-piece orchestra to crank out a commodity that next to nobody notices?

One word: “Chinatown.”

Roman Polanski’s stark tale of political and moral corruption in Los Angeles, which came out 35 years ago last month, is one of the undisputed classics of a bright decade in American filmmaking. In “Chinatown,” Mr. Polanski and Robert Towne, who wrote the school-of-Raymond-Chandler screenplay, took the disillusioned, shadow-dappled cinematic language of ’40s film noir and translated it into contemporary terms. Every neo-noir film released since then has borrowed from “Chinatown,” which looks as fresh today as it did in 1974. Yet a preview audience hated it, and studio executives were sure that it would bomb at the box office—until Jerry Goldsmith, working against the clock, wrote a brand-new score that helped turn a costly disaster into an unforgettable hit.

Goldsmith, who died five years ago, was one of the most admired composer-craftsmen in Hollywood, a pupil of Miklos Rozsa who scored 170 films, many of them successful (“Basic Instinct,” “Patton,” “Planet of the Apes”) but few of which were artistically distinguished. “Chinatown” was by far the best of the lot, and if you want to understand how film music works, you can’t do better than to pay close attention to Goldsmith’s score. Unfortunately, the soundtrack album has been out of print for years—used copies of the CD now sell for as much as $125—but the music comes through clearly on the remastered DVD version of “Chinatown.” To listen to Goldsmith’s score is to realize what first-rate music can contribute to the total effect of a first-rate film.

The score to “Chinatown” features a highly unorthodox instrumental lineup: one trumpet, four pianos, four harps, two percussionists and a string section. At first glance that looks like the sort of ensemble from which you’d expect to hear a piece of avant-garde classical music, and some parts of the “Chinatown” score are startlingly modern-sounding. But the film opens with an elegiac yet sensuous trumpet solo that floats freely over a cushion of tolling harps and brooding strings, a “love theme” that evokes the doomed romance of Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, the film’s stars. Uan Rasey, the celebrated Hollywood studio trumpeter heard on the soundtrack, later told an interviewer that Arthur Morton, Goldsmith’s arranger, “told me to play it sexy—but like it’s not good sex!”

The tension between the dark romanticism of the string-accompanied love theme and the crisp, bristly clatter of pianos and percussion is what gives Goldsmith’s spare score its powerfully individual quality. Though “Chinatown” runs for 131 minutes, it contains only 23 minutes of music—but every note counts. Instead of the usual wall-to-wall underscoring, Goldsmith saves his fire for the film’s key moments, allowing most of Mr. Towne’s Chandleresque dialogue to be heard “in the clear.” The result is a score so intense and concentrated that it can be listened to independent of the film with equal pleasure.

It isn’t unusual for movies to be rescored under pressure, but Goldsmith’s music for “Chinatown” is so well suited to the film that it’s hard to imagine that he knocked it out at the very last minute. The original score, written by the classical composer Phillip Lambro, was heard on the soundtrack of the version of the film that was shown seven weeks prior to the film’s release date at a preview in San Luis Obispo, a small town north of Los Angeles. “By the time the lights came up, half the audience had walked out, scratching their heads,” Robert Evans, the producer of “Chinatown,” wrote in “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” his 1994 autobiography. Concluding that Mr. Lambro’s “dissonant, weird, scratchy” music (as Mr. Towne would later describe it) was responsible for the film’s poor reception, Mr. Evans called in Goldsmith, and 10 days later “Chinatown” had a new score. Mr. Towne, who was present at the first recording session for Goldsmith’s score, later told a journalist that “you could see the movie come to life. It was like you couldn’t see the movie with the other score, and now you could, and I thought, ‘Omigod, we may have a chance.’”

So it did: “Chinatown” is now universally acknowledged as one of the key American films of the ’70s. Yet most of the critics ignored the score, and though Jerry Goldsmith received an Oscar nomination for “Chinatown,” he lost out to Nino Rota for “The Godfather, Part II.” Nowadays, of course, film connoisseurs don’t need to be told twice that the music of “Chinatown” is central to its greatness—but how many people are aware that Goldsmith’s score is one of the finest compositions of the postwar era, regardless of genre? If only he’d thought to turn it into a 15-minute-long tone poem for orchestra! Perhaps some talented arranger will do the job for him posthumously. I can’t think of another piece of American music written in 1974 that I’d rather see programmed by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony or Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic—even if it was written in Hollywood in 10 days flat.
—Mr. Teachout, the Journal’s drama critic, writes “Sightings” every other Saturday and blogs about the arts at www.terryteachout.com.

Write to Terry Teachout at tteachout@wsj.com


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on July 11, 2009, 12:22:42 PM
A perfect film for me.

Polanski's last great film and also his best. Chinatown has aged better than his classics of the 60s.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on July 11, 2009, 12:47:18 PM
I thought it was a great if you watch once kind of film - I quite liked it when I watched it (two months ago I believe), but I doubt I'd get much out of a rewatch. One of the few movies I like Nicholson in, at least; Polanski did a good job of keeping his usual hambone excesses in check. Always nice to see the great Roy Jenson, of course.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on July 11, 2009, 03:04:44 PM
It's a film I've watched many times, and will watch many times more, due in large part to the music.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on August 30, 2009, 05:06:33 PM
Hmm, I wonder what's on the second disc: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002HK9HR8/

The Blu-ray must certainly be on its way as well.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on August 31, 2009, 03:13:43 PM
Ah-ha! http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=71078

The commentary sounds like it could be interesting, especially if Fincher is there to ask pertinent questions to keep Towne on track.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on September 28, 2009, 08:38:40 PM
The new DVD edition is better than the one issued ten years ago (I didn't get the 2007 release); it's sharper, with a sliver more of info at the bottom
(http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/5484/cap310.png)
(http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/7748/cap312.png)

The new commentary is a bit of a disappointment. Occasionally Towne or Fincher make an interesting comment, but very few over the course of the film's running time.

Now I guess I'm waiting for the Blu-ray.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: The Firecracker on October 05, 2009, 09:47:58 PM
Its canonization is a mystery to me.

^ I take this back.

I saw it again, over the summer, and thought it was brilliant.
Some of the greatest movies of all time are very underwhelming upon initial viewing.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on October 06, 2009, 09:11:34 AM
You're talking about Taxi Driver?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: The Firecracker on October 06, 2009, 11:15:09 PM
You're talking about Taxi Driver?

Yeah.

Chinatown I always liked.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on October 08, 2009, 12:51:12 AM
^ I take this back.

I saw it again, over the summer, and thought it was brilliant.
Some of the greatest movies of all time are very underwhelming upon initial viewing.

The fact you didn't love taxi driver had always been a mistery to me.
Telling the truth, I was bored the first time i saw it. I loved it from the 3rd viewing.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Dust Devil on October 08, 2009, 11:20:36 AM
The fact you didn't love taxi driver had always been a mistery to me.

It's called ''opinion''.

Look in a dictionary.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on October 08, 2009, 12:42:37 PM
It's called ''opinion''.

Look in a dictionary.

I cannot read.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Dust Devil on October 08, 2009, 01:04:22 PM
I cannot read.

I know that. That's why I wrote ''look''.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on October 08, 2009, 02:10:05 PM
How nice from you!


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Dust Devil on October 08, 2009, 02:17:27 PM
Don't mention it.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on October 08, 2009, 02:21:49 PM
I cannot read.

 ;D


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 05, 2009, 02:54:09 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-bradley/ichinatownis-35th-anniver_b_332403.html


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on November 05, 2009, 04:41:26 PM
interesting


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: The Firecracker on November 10, 2009, 09:57:50 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-bradley/ichinatownis-35th-anniver_b_332403.html

Really tempting but I think I'm gonna have to pass.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on November 11, 2009, 08:14:45 AM
Interview from Penthouse Magazine 1974 (http://minadream.com/romanpolanski/Interview.htm)

"Every film I make represents a departure for me. You see, it takes so long to make a film. By the time you get to the next one you're already a different man. You've grown up by one or two years".

Polanski's latest effort, Chinatown, is a detective melodrama set in the Los Angeles Chinatown of 1937. To prepare for it, he spent several days screening several great mystery films of the Thirties and Forties. One of them was The Maltese Falcon, directed by John Huston. In Chinatown, Huston is the millionaire father of Faye Dunaway, who has gotten into terrible trouble. Jack Nicholson, an ex-cop who has been taking it easy as a private eye working on divorce cases, reluctantly agrees to help her. Polanski says the movie is in the tradition of mystery writer Raymond Chandler.

Q Do you have any enemies?
Polanski: Marty Ranshohoff [Laughs].
Q He produced your film The Fearless Vampire Killers?
Polanski: Yes. That was one of the most disgraceful experiences I ever went through, as far as my profession is concerned, my creative life. After I finished Vampire Killers, he took it away from me and cut twenty minutes out of it and redubbed it and changed the music. When he was through no one could understand it anymore. So he added a little cartoon to explain what the film was about. And that's how the film was presented in America. Luckily, my version prevailed in other countries. It's still playing in Europe, while the American version, as you know, was a total disaster.
Until that time, all my films had been made as I wanted them? to be, and if they were not more successful, financially, it was still important for me to be able to do exactly what I wanted to do. I often gave up a lot to retain my integrity. And suddenly, I found I had made a film which had been butchered. That really gives you the feeling of having a Thalidomide child - because that film exists and people go to see it and you can do nothing about it and they think it's yours. You're not even allowed to withdraw your name, because that's in the contract.

Q Can you accept any weaknesses in your work?
Polanski: No, but even if you don't accept them, you have them sometimes. Weaknesses are somehow more forgiveable in a feature film than in a short film. A short film needs tremendously rigorous and strict composition. That's why there are so few good short films made, although hundreds are produced every year in every country - less in America, by the way, than in European countries.

Q What makes the short film so tough to make?
Polanski: Well, if you miss a scene or a shot in a short film, you can't be forgiven. It's the same as writing a short story. A longer format is just more tolerant, you see. You have enough material to cover up for certain things. Let's say that 80 percent right would be acceptable in a feature film. But in a short form you have to be almost 100 percent right.

Q How did you come to make Chinatown, your newest film?
Polanski: Paramount acquired the rights to it and about a year ago Bob Evans, a vice-president at Paramount, called me and I came to Los Angeles and read the first draft. It had been written specifically for Jack Nicholson and I have always wanted to make a movie with him. So I decided I'd do it and I worked with Bob Townes for two months rewriting it. It was his original script. Already, at that stage, a picture of Faye Dunaway formed itself in my brain, and I was absolutely positive she was the only person who could play the role.

Q What was it like working with Jack Nicholson?
Polanski: Jack is the easiest person to work with that I have come across in my whole career. First of all, he's tremendously professional, and secondly, it's very easy for him to do anything you ask. I think he spoils the director, and the writer, because any lines you give him Sound right even if they're awkward or badly written. When he says something, it sounds authentic. He never asks you to change anything. Every other actor I've worked with has said, at some time, "Can I change this?" or "Can I take this out?" But that never happens with Jack. It's amazing, really.

Q What about Faye Dunaway?
Polanski: With her it was just the opposite. I mean she's hung-up. She's the most difficult person I've worked with. She's undisciplined, although she works hard. She prepares herself for ages - in fact, too much. She's tremendously neurotic. Unflexible. She argues about motivations. She's often late and so on. But then, when you see the final results, you tend to forget all the trouble you went through because she is very good indeed. It's just a price you have to pay for it.
Q How did Jack and Faye get along?
Polanski: Oh, they get along very well. They're great friends. So were Faye and I before we started the picture. And we are now. But throughout the production it was fire and water.

Q Does Chinatown represent a departure for you in either theme or treatment?
Polanski: Every film I make represents a departure for me. You see, it takes so long to make a film. By the time you get to the next one you're already a different man. You've grown up by one or two years.
Chinatown is a thriller and the story line is very important. There is a lot of dialogue. But I missed some opportunity for visual inventiveness. I felt sometimes as if I were doing some kind of TV show. I thought I had always been an able, inventive, creative director and there I was putting two people at a table and letting them talk. When I tried to make it look original I saw it start to become pretentious, so concentrated on the performances and kept an ordinary look.
Q Isn't that better than having the audience acutely aware of the camera, like a thumb in their eye?
Polanski: Yes, but I don't think that's ever happened to me. Only when your camera makes them nauseous do the critics say, "His nervous camera moved relentlessly throughout the entire sequence" and so on. I've read those criticisms of some pictures. It's the same thing with writers. Sometimes a great stylist writes so smoothly that you're not aware of what you're swallowing.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on November 11, 2009, 08:15:06 AM
Q You once said that "directing is like drawing with your eyes closed"-
Polanski: I said that?
Q Maybe not. But you were quoted as saying it.
Polanski: It's very possible. I don't remember. But it certainly sounds very intelligent and I'm surprised I said it.
Q It was tied into a comment that the audience sees the whole picture, but the director never can.
Polanski: Oh, that's true. When you say it in that context, I understand what I must have been talking about. When you make a picture, you make little segments of it at a time. When you write a script, it's a similar situation. You then see portions of it in your daily screening. By the time you start putting it together you know these portions so well that you don't see the entire thread anymore. By the time the film is finished you can only have an instinct about it because you literally don't see the whole film anymore. Your attention is diverted by all kinds of trivia within 'the film. I sometimes run the picture after I finish it and when the screening is over I have the impression that there was a scene or two missing and I have to ask someone, "Was that scene in the film?" because I don't remember seeing it. But after a few years you are able to see it again with a fresher eye, because you tend to forget the details and you can view it as an entire piece for the first time.

Q Have you ever gotten used to how much an audience will miss when they first see a film?
Polanski: Oh, yes. They miss a lot. It depends also on the depth of the film and how subtle the things are which the director tried to get across.
Q Does this tend to make you wary of subtlety?
Polanski: No. I prefer to be subtle rather than to be obvious. I would rather that the audience miss something at the first viewing rather than be offended by the vulgarity.
Q You often repeat something for comic effect, but you never come back a third time. In your film What? a man picks up an object and it falls apart in his hand. A little while later he picks up something else, which breaks. And that's it.
Polanski: This is a law I learned when I was an actor. If you repeat something, you don't come back and repeat it again. If you do it a third time, there has to be a payoff Two seems a lot, already. Let's say, for example, that someone leaves the room and says, "Okay, see you tomorrow," and then he suddenly comes back and says, "And don't be late." If he returns a third time, something more must happen. He probably has to stay and not leave at all.

Q What about fictional people you've created? Would you like to meet any of them in real life?
Polanski: Lets see, people from films. . characters . . well, I'm afraid only the professor from Vampire Killers. Unfortunately, I don't make films about admirable people. Probably weakness gives you more material for description.
Q More than strength?
Polanski: Well, it depends what sort of strength. For instance, nowadays it's difficult to write a profile in a magazine about someone who is wonderful. You try to look for his faults in order to have it published. In a similar manner, you make films about someone you identify with because of his or her vulnerability or because the character irritates you due to his weaknesses. I think it's boring to talk about Mr. Wonderful.

Q Is stamina more important than talent in show business?
Polanski: I'm afraid so. I really do mean that. There are people around you who try to press their points of view and their interests. You need an incredible amount of strength to survive and to retain your integrity.

Q Do you have any general rules for handling actors?
Polanski: It depends on the individual actor. Some of them are tremendously sensitive - and even intelligent. Others need this bit of pounding. My first experience, Knife in the Water, had to do with three actors. The older man was a theatrical actor with all the mannerisms that theater gives. He had a lot of experience, a lot of discipline. He was a middle-aged ham. He was a wonderful man, a great friend, but that's the way I have to describe him, The other was a young graduate of an acting school who had all his trembling fears and doubts, and also a different sort of mannerism that acting school gives you. He was hypersensitive. The girl was an amateur who never did anything before. She was found in a public swimming pool, totally dumb, absolutely insensitive, very sensual looking and quite intelligent looking. Unfortunately, it was only in appearance. I had to deal in three different ways with these three individuals. To the man, I could explain certain things and rehearse a lot and ask him to repeat certain motions or attitudes I would show him. With the boy I would just have to suggest something to him and let him do it himself. With the girl, I had to pound it into her head and insult her in order to get some feeling out of her; and that hardly worked at all. So a performance that really surprised a lot of people was really the result of blood, sweat, and tears.

Q You have to "play" them to get what you want out of them?
Polanski: Yes, I think so. But sometimes you don't have to do anything but just leave them alone. For example, Mia Farrow, in Rosemary's Baby. After a few days she said, "You don't like me," And I said, "Why?" And she said, "Because you never say anything." Well, I didn't say anything because everything was all right.

Q Many famous directors seem to feel that actors should be treated as if they were at best, animals, and at worst, children.
Polanski: Well, what kind of animals? I used to give my actors bananas in the morning and they liked them very much. I had my prop man bring them in. After a while, whenever they didn't get their bananas, they became very upset.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on November 11, 2009, 08:23:02 AM
If you ask the question "what was the best American film of the 70's" most people would say Godfather or Taxi Driver as their answer. Not me. Chinatown runs circles around those two overly indulgent movies.

It's certainly a great film.

Once you start looking, the hand of the Master is everywhere.

Some nice observations on this little thread  O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 11, 2009, 10:38:06 AM
Chinatown doesn't have a lot of depth, it seems to me, but it is so well crafted that every detail in it is a joy to behold. It is all veneer, but that veneer is flawless.

Novecento, thanks for posting the interview. I didn't even realize that magazine had text . . .  ;)


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 28, 2009, 11:55:33 AM
A poster at HTF reports something very curious:
Quote
Both the Chinatown SE released in 2007 and the new 2009 Chinatown 2-disc CC are now listed as OOP/discontinued from Paramount. Get the 2009 edition while you can as it's worth every penny.
Hmmmm. . . .


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on November 29, 2009, 08:09:27 AM
A poster at HTF reports something very curious:Hmmmm. . . .

That is curious ??? Maybe it's nothing sinister and they've just violated some small copyright on an extra feature and will release it again shortly in almost identical format.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 29, 2009, 09:21:50 AM
Possibly. I've seen one suggestion is that it's been withdrawn so that Criterion can release their edition (which would be great but seems unlikely to me). The Blu-ray disc has been expected and is now overdue, but I don't see how that would tie in (unless CC are going to bring that out as well, day-and-date with the standard DVD). Well, back to this: hmmmmm . . .


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on December 02, 2009, 12:58:01 PM
I've got Cinema Retro on the case for us:

http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/3986-THE-POSTMAN-ALWAYS-RINGS-TWICE-LETTERS-TO-CINEMA-RETRO.html


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on December 02, 2009, 01:18:19 PM
Way to go! O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 11, 2010, 09:01:12 PM
You lucky fanboys: http://thehollywoodinterview.blogspot.com/2009/10/robert-towne-hollywood-interview.html


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on December 05, 2010, 12:47:33 PM
Possibly. I've seen one suggestion is that it's been withdrawn so that Criterion can release their edition (which would be great but seems unlikely to me). The Blu-ray disc has been expected and is now overdue, but I don't see how that would tie in (unless CC are going to bring that out as well, day-and-date with the standard DVD). Well, back to this: hmmmmm . . .

Any more news on a Blu-ray release?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on December 05, 2010, 02:16:12 PM
Haven't heard a thing.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 10, 2012, 07:46:46 PM
Chinatown will go Blu (according to Blu-ray.com) on April 3.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 10, 2012, 11:50:08 PM
I like this film better than anything Francis Fraud Crap-ola ever made, and better than Scorcese's 70s pictures (with the exception, maybe, of New York, New York). It's got a good story, a fantastic score, great cinematography, and of course, bravura performances (I fault the art direction a bit: everything looks too new, too unused, like we're looking at displays in a museum). Nicholson is great, Dunaway was never better, Burt Young is Burt Young, and Huston is . . . well, the bit where he says , "Mr. Gittes, I drink your milkshake," always gives me goosebumps. Easily the best Hollywood film in its year of release.



I have to disagree with you about Dunaway; I think she was terribly miscast here.

I found Dunaway to be great in "bad girl"-type roles: she was terrific in Bonnie & Clyde, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Doc... But in Chinatown, casting her was a big mistake. I don't know whether to blame her acting job, or the casting director or whatever, but IMO the Dunaway performance a major negative in Chinatown.

btw, the 5 actors nominated for best leading role at the '75 Oscars were:

Art Carney -- WON for  Harry and Tonto
Al Pacino -- The Godfather Part II
Jack Nicholson -- Chinatown
Dustin Hoffman -- Lenny
Albert Finney -- Murder on the Orient Express

that's a pretty incredible lineup, eh? ;-)

Just wondering what y'all thought of the 5 nominees, and the award going to Carney? (Lenny is the only movie of those 5 that I haven't seen; all I can say is that I am sure glad I didn't have to cast a vote and choose between those awesome performances  :) )




Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 11, 2012, 02:06:19 AM
They would have deserved it all 5.

And Dunaway too. She's fantastic in Chinatown. The best noir ever.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 11, 2012, 05:57:53 AM
It's not a noir. It is, however, a PI film.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 11, 2012, 06:12:27 AM
Question of definition. Call it a neo-noir, but for me it is a noir.

While on the other hand many films from the 40s and 50s which are called noirs by some, are not noirs imo. Films of Hitchcok for example.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 11, 2012, 08:24:24 AM
Question of definition. Call it a neo-noir, but for me it is a noir.
Not even a neo-noir. It is made with an entirely different aesthetic sensibility.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 11, 2012, 01:17:53 PM
Details of the Blu-ray are as follows:
Quote
Paramount's Blu-ray presents the film in its 2.39:1 original aspect ratio with both 5.1 and restored monaural Dolby TrueHD audio tracks. The disc also carries a number of bonus supplements, including:

Commentary with Robert Towne and David Fincher
Three-part Water and Power documentary with Robert Towne: - The Aqueduct
- The Aftermath
- The River & Beyond

Chinatown: An Appreciation retrospective with filmmakers Steven Soderbergh, James Newton Howard, Kimberly Peirce, and Roger Deakins
Three behind-the-scenes featurettes: - Chinatown: The Beginning and the End
- Chinatown: Filming
- Chinatown: The Legacy

Theatrical trailer
In addition, the Blu-ray contains a slipcover with the original theatrical poster art as well as a collectible booklet with information about the film.

It seems that the supplements are identical to those on the 2009 DVD. It's unclear to me if they've been upgraded to 1080p.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 11, 2012, 01:58:09 PM
Not even a neo-noir. It is made with an entirely different aesthetic sensibility.

Its the story what makes it a noir. And I'm not so sure if it really is so entirely different.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 11, 2012, 04:08:43 PM
Chinatown will go Blu (according to Blu-ray.com) on April 3.

Sweeeeeet  :)

By the way there's a nice little interview here with John Alonzo on the cinematography (page 30 onwards):

http://books.google.com.br/books?id=bMZKXMjOmusC&printsec=frontcover&dq=masters+of+light&hl=pt-BR&sa=X&ei=dRUOT5nOEcWXtwfktMmbBQ&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=masters%20of%20light&f=false


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 11, 2012, 05:17:19 PM
Its the story what makes it a noir.
That would mean that noir is a genre, but it isn't. It isn't a style either. But if you have the right type of story and present that story in the appropriate style, you have the possibility of creating a neo-noir.

Chinatown doesn't have a style that in any way approximates the industry practices of 1940 -1960. For one thing, it's almost impossible to do noir in 2.35:1 (no sense of claustrophobia). Secondly, Polanski's decision to film things from Nicholson's side,rather than his POV, undercuts the audience's identification with the character (the paucity of reaction shots does this also). Never has a film actor done so much acting with his back. The decision not to use diffusion on Faye Dunaway also meant a less glamorized image of the leading lady. And the use of 40mm lenses allowed the set designers to show off their work in a new way: the audience could finally see what the sets actually looked like. Finally, the film has any number of long takes that even Preminger would have been afraid to use.

No, there's no way Chinatown can be considered a noir. It's a PI film--a PI art film, in fact.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on January 12, 2012, 04:53:18 AM
Well, if you have a strict dictionary definition of noir (I guess you and CJ do) then perhaps you're right. In terms of story, character and seedy atmosphere it would certainly qualify. I don't know if "PI film" qualifies as a genre.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 12, 2012, 05:29:54 AM
Always nice to see the great Roy Jenson, of course.
Indeed. Here he is called "Claude", but I'll always think of him as Cloud William. Who can forget those immortal word he intones from "The Omega Glory": "Ay plegli ianectu flaggen, tupep like for stahn... "


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on January 12, 2012, 05:45:15 AM
Well, if you have a strict dictionary definition of noir (I guess you and CJ do) then perhaps you're right. In terms of story, character and seedy atmosphere it would certainly qualify. I don't know if "PI film" qualifies as a genre.

In this list of noir movies by qualified authors:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/717NE4PP0CL._SL500_AA300_.gif)

the movie is included and reviewed. "C. is ample proof that noir is not dead."


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 12, 2012, 11:16:40 AM
In this list of noir movies by qualified authors:
read "authors with a vested interest"


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on January 12, 2012, 01:44:52 PM
Yep, but who also wrote many books on noir and saw them all. I mean, opinions on the matter vary even from authoritative sources. I tend to consider noir only in a very strict and time limited sense (though my knowledge of the genre is limited) but that depends on what one considers noir genre to be. Apparently there are at least three main critical approaches to the subject quite different from each other: which fact justify all the variance even on the matter of considering Chinatown a noir.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 12, 2012, 01:59:17 PM
I mean, opinions on the matter vary even from authoritative sources.
You must have greater confidence in authoritative sources then I do. I prefer to think for myself.

I don't really think there is such a thing as film noir, however, the term exists, and that term can be useful if it is defined strictly (as in "American crime films of the 40s-50s following a particular style"). If one wanders too far away from such a definition, the term ceases to be useful (since then no one knows what anyone is talking about). And obviously if you have to constantly define the term or argue over its meaning then it is worse than useless, it's use actually becomes counterproductive.

I think it's useful to talk about Chinatown in reference to Raymond Chandler novels and PI films generally, but bringing the term "noir" into the discussion adds nothing.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 12, 2012, 02:19:26 PM
You must have greater confidence in authoritative sources then I do. I prefer to think for myself.

I don't really think there is such a thing as film noir, however, the term exists, and that term can be useful if it is defined strictly (as in "American crime films of the 40s-50s following a particular style"). If one wanders too far away from such a definition, the term ceases to be useful (since then no one knows what anyone is talking about). And obviously if you have to constantly define the term or argue over its meaning then it is worse than useless, it's use actually becomes counterproductive.

I think it's useful to talk about Chinatown in reference to Raymond Chandler novels and PI films generally, but bringing the term "noir" into the discussion adds nothing.

I say lets define a Strict Visual Noir Genre right here and now, as in this thread http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11081.msg153227#msg153227 (http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11081.msg153227#msg153227), Just like the Western Genre there are certain conventions that Westerns have used that became visually generic. So in creating a true Hard Core NOIR GENRE we can now come up with a list of conventions and archetypes that will fit it, and back the existing Classic films that fit into it, and everything else is sort of off genre.

As far as Chinatown, I haven't seen it it quite a while, my impressions of it comparatively to Classic Films Noir is that it was flooded with light with way way too many day shots. So I'd say it was a PI film first and foremost, its only nod to the dark side is with the revelation at the very end. On the flip side Farewell My Lovely (1975) is a far more Noir PI film.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on January 12, 2012, 03:00:33 PM
Gentlemen, I admire your audacity in not only codifying an existing genre (or style if you like), but also inventing a new one. I suppose listing both approaches under the rubric of "crime film" is unsatisfactory. :P



Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on January 12, 2012, 03:17:10 PM
You must have greater confidence in authoritative sources then I do. I prefer to think for myself.

You usually don't, how come this sudden eruption of individualism?  :o Anyway, the problem is that I have to rely on secondary sources on fields of which I am ignorant. Then of course  I can better judge about their authoritativeness. But as Silver had made a book on Chandler's LA well-made (THAT I can judge) and many on the subject at hand and, from the few lines I've read, he knows his stuff,  I thought it  worthwhile to bring out his opinion. Not because I think it's the truth (I can't judge about that) but just to show how many differences of opinion there are on the subject even among connoisseurs (you prefer this term?).


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 12, 2012, 03:26:46 PM
As far as Chinatown, I haven't seen it it quite a while, my impressions of it comparatively to Classic Films Noir is that it was flooded with light with way way too many day shots. So I'd say it was a PI film first and foremost, its only nod to the dark side is with the revelation at the very end. On the flip side Farewell My Lovely (1975) is a far more Noir PI film.
Interesting point, because John Alonzo lensed them both. I understand he used lighting techniques on Chinatown that he developed as a documentary filmmaker, a less-is-more approach that was different from industry standards for features (Another interesting thing, Stanley Cortez was the original DP on the project but was fired after Robert Evans saw his dailies. Cortez was infamous for working slowly, and that alone might have cost him his job, but maybe also Evans didn't like the noir-ish look Cortez was giving the film?). Maybe by the time Alonzo did FML he was willing to try more traditional lighting styles.

You have a good point also about all the day shots in Chinatown. Most of the film's events occur in the daytime (the exceptions are: the nose-cutting scene; the sequence that begins with the resthome, continues through the love scene, and then Jake's subsequent taillight tailing of Evelyn to the house where the girl is stashed; and finally, of course, the final scene). Most of FML, by contrast, happens at night.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on January 12, 2012, 03:31:38 PM


As far as Chinatown, I haven't seen it it quite a while, my impressions of it comparatively to Classic Films Noir is that it was flooded with light with way way too many day shots.

So what about D.O.A., for example ?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 12, 2012, 03:53:01 PM
Gentlemen, I admire your audacity in not only codifying an existing genre (or style if you like), but also inventing a new one. I suppose listing both approaches under the rubric of "crime film" is unsatisfactory. :P



No the Crime Film approach can work also for the existing films.  O0

But why not just say fuck it lets Create a True (hard core) Noir Genre and define it, rather than try and create something after the fact and be all inclusive and all over the map.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 12, 2012, 03:57:13 PM
So what about D.O.A., for example ?

Which one, the original with Edmund O'Brien or the remake with Dennis Quaid?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on January 12, 2012, 04:11:06 PM
No the Crime Film approach can work also for the existing films.  O0

I find it useful to avoid these kind of arguments. They're fun for awhile but eventually grow old and pedantic.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on January 12, 2012, 04:27:07 PM
Which one, the original with Edmund O'Brien or the remake with Dennis Quaid?

The O'Brien, of course.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 12, 2012, 06:10:14 PM
Original D.O.A. definitely Noir in my book  O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: titoli on January 12, 2012, 06:23:23 PM
Original D.O.A. definitely Noir in my book  O0

Wasn't it  "flooded with light with way way too many day shots."?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 13, 2012, 04:26:03 AM
Chinatown is obviously Polanski's attempt to make a modern Noir. He probably asked himself "what should a Noir shot in the 70's be?" and his answer is Chinatown. One could argue for years without having a final answer to the question "is it really a noir/neonoir/pi/metanoir/post-modern-noir/and the like" but I guess we can agree about the following terminology: it's a 70's Noir.

You can thank me now that I just saved you 10 years of discussions.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 13, 2012, 05:26:28 AM
Thanks


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 13, 2012, 05:47:56 AM
Wasn't it  "flooded with light with way way too many day shots."?

Not obviously as much as Chinatown, at any rate, Before I answered you, I Youtubed it to refresh myself on D.O.A. and the first half was almost entirely dark, I admit I didn't go further than about 1/2 through though. It could be the B&W as opposed to Color cuts some slack to B&W Noirs.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 13, 2012, 06:16:36 AM
Chinatown is obviously Polanski's attempt to make a modern Noir. He probably asked himself "what should a Noir shot in the 70's be?" and his answer is Chinatown. One could argue for years without having a final answer to the question "is it really a noir/neonoir/pi/metanoir/post-modern-noir/and the like" but I guess we can agree about the following terminology: it's a 70's Noir.

You can thank me now that I just saved you 10 years of discussions.
If you listen to the interviews with Polanski and Towne, the term noir is never used. Indeed, in 1974 it was not the ubiquitous term it is today. Towne talks about Chandler and sometimes they say things like "these kinds of movies" but the N-word is never around. Clearly, Towne, Polanski, and also Evans wanted a "modern" looking film. Towne also prides himself on having avoided melodrama, and his decision not to use voice-over also speaks to his desire to present Chandler-esque material without many of the trappings of Chandler. In fact, he wanted to make things less stylized, more naturalistic, more "real," as he was telling a fictional story based on actual history. Then you have Polanski's shooting/editing choices, which are very different than standard Hollywood (then, or earlier) and then John Alonzo's "radical" approach to lighting. The final product is something that is very different to what we know as "noir" today. We can see vestiges of Chandler in the work, as well as references to the PI genre, but, again, to use the N-word is highly misleading.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 13, 2012, 06:30:31 AM
DJ, this movie is almost the OUATITW of Noir, it takes everything from noir films and say "now it's gonna be this way". Femme fatale, evil millionaire, corrupted-but-not-evil-police officer, dark backstory, anti hero, hats. They even have a couple "silhouette seen through glass door" shots.
The logic is exactly the same as in Memento: in Memento's audio commentary, Nolan says he was trying to make a modern Noir and argues that even if regular noir films tend to be stylised, they were already trying to capture reality. Characters have cool hats in it because regular people at the time used to wear cool hats. Noir is not about the look, and that's exactly what Polanski tried to show. Was he right? Did he and Nolan made Noir films? No idea, I don't know Noir as much as many people here, but they obviously made "modern noir films". All you can say about that is that may be they betrayed or didn't get what Noir really is, but that's another question.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 13, 2012, 06:38:16 AM
DJ, this movie is almost the OUATITW of Noir, it takes everything from noir films and say "now it's gonna be this way". Femme fatale, evil millionaire, corrupted-but-not-evil-police officer, dark backstory, anti hero, hats. They even have a couple "silhouette seen through glass door" shots.
The logic is exactly the same as in Memento: in Memento's audio commentary, Nolan says he was trying to make a modern Noir and argues that even if regular noir films tend to be stylised, they were already trying to capture reality. Characters have cool hats in it because regular people at the time used to wear cool hats. Noir is not about the look, and that's exactly what Polanski tried to show. Was he right? Did he and Nolan made Noir films? No idea, I don't know Noir as much as many people here, but they obviously made "modern noir films". All you can say about that is that may be they betrayed or didn't get what Noir really is, but that's another question.

Actually you should watch "Farewell My Lovely" (1975) that's the way a modern noir should be shot, but that is my opinion.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 13, 2012, 08:05:20 AM
Just seen the trailer, looks interesting. I'll definitely see it.
 But that's another debate if you ask me. If someone think slomo shouldn't be in a western, that does not make The Wild Bunch a non-western movie.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 13, 2012, 08:29:32 AM
DJ, this movie is almost the OUATITW of Noir
No, it's the OUATITW of PI films. People seem to be conflating "noir" with "PI films" but the two are different. Some PI films are noirs, but many, many more noirs are not PI films.

Chinatown draws very heavily on Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely and (especially) The Big Sleep (Gittes first visit to the Mulwray home is one of the few moments where TBS is specifically alluded to). But the allusions are more toward the novel than the film adaptation. What interested the filmmakers were not the films of the past, but actual past events. They went out of their way to be "un-cinematic."


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 13, 2012, 03:23:36 PM
Chinatown doesn't have a style that in any way approximates the industry practices of 1940 -1960. For one thing, it's almost impossible to do noir in 2.35:1 (no sense of claustrophobia). Secondly, Polanski's decision to film things from Nicholson's side,rather than his POV, undercuts the audience's identification with the character (the paucity of reaction shots does this also). Never has a film actor done so much acting with his back. The decision not to use diffusion on Faye Dunaway also meant a less glamorized image of the leading lady. And the use of 40mm lenses allowed the set designers to show off their work in a new way: the audience could finally see what the sets actually looked like. Finally, the film has any number of long takes that even Preminger would have been afraid to use.

Then you have Polanski's shooting/editing choices, which are very different than standard Hollywood (then, or earlier) and then John Alonzo's "radical" approach to lighting. The final product is something that is very different to what we know as "noir" today. We can see vestiges of Chandler in the work, as well as references to the PI genre, but, again, to use the N-word is highly misleading.

DJ I'm glad you enjoyed my post of the John Alonzo interview, but I'm afraid I really don't follow your interpretation of it.

Film noir was shot in what is called "low key" light. That is to say that the ratio between the hard, direct "key" light and the soft, diffused "filler" light was huge. This was very different from the standard practice of having a small ratio between the two which used the diffused filler light extensively to even out the harsh shadows caused by the key light. The Femme Fatales were shot in this "low key" light to give them a harsher, more accentuated, beauty that suited their roles perfectly. Consequently when Polanski asked Alonzo to shoot without diffusion, he was basically asking him to shoot her in a noir style.

As for the lens, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a 40mm anamorphic lens is extremely wide. Allowing the edges of the film to go dark would create a very claustrophobic noir look which, as Alonzo puts it, creates an effect like an old-fashioned view camera.

Consequently, in terms of cinematography, Chinatown is very much Polanski's homage to film noir. The style has just been updated in accordance with more modern technology to make it the very epitome of "neo-noir".

To give you a good counterpoint, L.A. Confidential is often called a "neo-noir" but in terms of cinematography it does not qualify.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: sargatanas on January 14, 2012, 12:47:38 AM
classic chinatown excerpt, Gettes to uptight male Libraryin : "  How about a ruler ? "
http://www.traileraddict.com/clip/chinatown/how-about-a-ruler
    O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 14, 2012, 03:28:35 AM
Film noir was shot in what is called "low key" light. That is to say that the ratio between the hard, direct "key" light and the soft, diffused "filler" light was huge. This was very different from the standard practice of having a small ratio between the two which used the diffused filler light extensively to even out the harsh shadows caused by the key light. The Femme Fatales were shot in this "low key" light to give them a harsher, more accentuated, beauty that suited their roles perfectly. Consequently when Polanski asked Alonzo to shoot without diffusion, he was basically asking him to shoot her in a noir style.
Point taken.

Quote
As for the lens, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a 40mm anamorphic lens is extremely wide. Allowing the edges of the film to go dark would create a very claustrophobic noir look which, as Alonzo puts it, creates an effect like an old-fashioned view camera.
I don't see that effect in the frames. I see images full of natural light (which is sometimes artificially achieved). In any event, the look of Chinatown generally is very different from the look one associates with so-called film noir.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 14, 2012, 03:46:10 AM
Point taken.
I don't see that effect in the frames. I see images full of natural light (which is sometimes artificially achieved). In any event, the look of Chinatown generally is very different from the look one associates with so-called film noir.

I would say definitely agree


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 14, 2012, 04:50:12 AM
40mm anamorphic is wide. It's usually admitted that everything under 50mm is a wide angle. Do regular 40mm is quite wide (not that much) but anamorphic amplifies the thing. The traditional angle to shot a femeal beauty is 85mm.
But to me, wide angle is part of the noir aesthetic: even if you forget portraits, Expressionist wide shots have always been inherent to noir movies (due to their filiation to German expressionism).


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 14, 2012, 04:52:51 AM
DJ and CJ: of course it's different. Just like Unforgiven is very different with the look associated with so-called westerns (either SW or AW).


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 14, 2012, 08:17:56 AM
40mm anamorphic is wide. It's usually admitted that everything under 50mm is a wide angle. Do regular 40mm is quite wide (not that much) but anamorphic amplifies the thing. The traditional angle to shot a femeal beauty is 85mm.
But to me, wide angle is part of the noir aesthetic: even if you forget portraits, Expressionist wide shots have always been inherent to noir movies (due to their filiation to German expressionism).

Right thanks for the correction. I think I was confusing the concept of wide-angle lenses with a widescreen image which are not necessarily related at all. I then ended up trying to force the point via the 40mm lens which in effect is only 40mm when stretched vertically but much less horizontally due it being anamorphic.

This "wide-angled" approach is then very much in accordance with classic "full-screen" noir where shorter focal lengths gave much greater depth perception.

Why then (apart from saving film stock) would Alonzo go with anamorphic to give a "wide-screen" image rather than using say a 20 or 25mm non-anamorphic lens? I just read in this (http://cinemadirectives.blogspot.com/2011/03/chinatown-no-escaping-past-or-future.html) review of Chinatown that "the wide screen format often features horizontal images - such as the virtually dry river bed where water is being diverted in a drought - that make us feel a bit uneasy and nervous as we watch".

Or am I still confused?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 14, 2012, 09:57:12 AM
What has the lens to do with saving film stock ?

The material used is the same 35 mm film either they shot it in anamorphic widescreen or in fullscreen for a later widescreen masking. And is basically also the same which was used in the 40s for the old 1,37:1 aspect ratio.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 14, 2012, 12:41:27 PM
It's basically the same principle as an anamorphic DVD and hence the appropriation of the term when such DVDs began to be released.

An anamorphic lens produces a widescreen image on a film that is then stretched vertically to fill what would otherwise have been a blank space on the film.

I guess I should have said "made more complete use use of" rather than "saved" film stock.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 14, 2012, 01:53:37 PM
Why then (apart from saving film stock) would Alonzo go with anamorphic to give a "wide-screen" image rather than using say a 20 or 25mm non-anamorphic lens? I just read in  this  (http://cinemadirectives.blogspot.com/2011/03/chinatown-no-escaping-past-or-future.html) review of Chinatown that "the wide screen format often features horizontal images - such as the virtually dry river bed where water is being diverted in a drought - that make us feel a bit uneasy and nervous as we watch".

I think I have just found the answer to this here (http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/54/noirlaser.php):

Quote
Of the three, Chinatown's relationship to the archetypal film noir of the '40s and '50s is most superficially apparent. In terms of the rigorous perfection of its Robert Towne scenario, it is probably more classical than the convoluted narratives of films like Out of the Past (1947) or Touch of Evil (1958). But Polanski's visual conception of the film is highly elusive, indebted to a certain classical tradition of editing and shot composition yet pulling that tradition inward on itself, stripping the parameters of classicism to the bare minimum. The film's claustrophobia has been widely noted, but this alone would hardly qualify it for any sort of revisionist honors. Claustrophobia is a hallmark of any classic film noir. Chinatown's distinction here lies in its fresh conception of this claustrophobia for Panavision and color. While Rohmer welcomed Cinemascope for bringing to film "the only palpable element it lacked: air, the divine ether of the poets," this air is precisely the element deliberately avoided in Chinatown. The recurring setup for most of the film's sequences is not the standard plain Americain (cutting the actors off at the shins), but the medium close-up, in which the actors are cut off just below the shoulders. Even if Polanski and cinematographer John Alonzo were shooting in academy ratio, claustrophobia would still be achieved by this pointed avoidance of the standard medium shot's ability to orient the viewer to the space and to the character's relationship to it. Stretched out to the horizontal proportions of Panavision, the film creates an almost unbearable tension between the width of its frame and the ways in which the camera seems to be bearing down on the characters and their environment. This is intensified by the shallow sense of space, activities placed front and slightly offcenter, occasionally broken by shots of extreme and often quite narrow depth.

This explains what Alonzo was saying in the interview about putting that 40mm anamorphic lens right up in people's faces.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 14, 2012, 02:36:07 PM
I hear a lot of talk about claustrophobia, but I don't see any evidence of it in the frames. Granted, this can be a highly subjective thing. But it seems to me the guy in the second review referenced above started out believing that 1) claustrophobia is a hallmark of noir; 2) Chinatown is a noir, and so therefore, 3) Chinatown is replete with images of claustrophobia. All that remained, then, was to go in search of the proof, and if such proof was thin on the ground, come up with the appropriate spin on the matter.

I don't see the "shallow sense of space" mentioned. In fact, again and again, I see examples of depth-of-field (examples from the first page of this thread):
(http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/9159/china1ov0.png)
(http://img378.imageshack.us/img378/5830/china11mv7.png)
(http://img133.imageshack.us/img133/927/china21hx0.png)
(http://img374.imageshack.us/img374/687/china22ja2.png)
(http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1846/china23hq8.png)
(http://img513.imageshack.us/img513/1444/china9kt6.png)
(http://img167.imageshack.us/img167/639/china2ik1.png)
(http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/4751/china18fy1.png)
(http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/2729/china4xu3.png)
(http://img388.imageshack.us/img388/2661/china8wd8.png)
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/7231/china3vs5.png)
http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=7161.0

I don't get a sense of claustrophobia from any of these frames.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on January 14, 2012, 04:53:19 PM
All this talk is making me keen to rewatch Chinatown. O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 14, 2012, 05:38:55 PM
Quote
The film's claustrophobia has been widely noted, but this alone would hardly qualify it for any sort of revisionist honors. Claustrophobia is a hallmark of any classic film noir. Chinatown's distinction here lies in its fresh conception of this claustrophobia for Panavision and color. While Rohmer welcomed Cinemascope for bringing to film "the only palpable element it lacked: air, the divine ether of the poets," this air is precisely the element deliberately avoided in Chinatown.

Boy that sounds like a load of crapola....  ???


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 15, 2012, 02:25:52 AM
It's basically the same principle as an anamorphic DVD and hence the appropriation of the term when such DVDs began to be released.

An anamorphic lens produces a widescreen image on a film that is then stretched vertically to fill what would otherwise have been a blank space on the film.

I guess I should have said "made more complete use use of" rather than "saved" film stock.

Maybe we talk about different things.

Still there could only be blank space on the screen, but only if you compare a 1,37.1 film to a 2,35:1 film on the same screen.

35 mm film itself has a 1,37:1 ratio, either if you use it for that 1,37:1 aspect ratio, or if you use it by masking to get a 1,66:1 or a 1,85:1 aspect ratio, or if you use it with an anamorphic lens to get an 2,35:1 aspect ratio.

But the Techniscope format used by Leone was something very special. With that one a director could indeed save film stock, because Techniscope makes two non anamorphic 2,35:1 frames where normal 35 mm film has one 1,37:1 frame.  Means the Techniscope 2,35:1 frame has half the height of a normal 1,37:1 frame. So Leone needed with Techniscope only half of the film stock compared to an anmorphic process like Cinemascope.
But for the theatrical screening the Techniscope was copied to regular anamorphic 35 mm film, because there were no projectors which could project the Techniscope format.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 15, 2012, 06:26:29 AM
Maybe we talk about different things.

Still there could only be blank space on the screen, but only if you compare a 1,37.1 film to a 2,35:1 film on the same screen.

35 mm film itself has a 1,37:1 ratio, either if you use it for that 1,37:1 aspect ratio, or if you use it by masking to get a 1,66:1 or a 1,85:1 aspect ratio, or if you use it with an anamorphic lens to get an 2,35:1 aspect ratio.

But the Techniscope format used by Leone was something very special. With that one a director could indeed save film stock, because Techniscope makes two non anamorphic 2,35:1 frames where normal 35 mm film has one 1,37:1 frame.  Means the Techniscope 2,35:1 frame has half the height of a normal 1,37:1 frame. So Leone needed with Techniscope only half of the film stock compared to an anmorphic process like Cinemascope.
But for the theatrical screening the Techniscope was copied to regular anamorphic 35 mm film, because there were no projectors which could project the Techniscope format.

That Techniscope stuff is very interesting to read about. As you may have gathered already, when it comes to lenses I really don't know what I'm talking about at all  ;D - probably best if I remain quiet and leave it to someone like noodles_leone

All this talk is making me keen to rewatch Chinatown. O0

Can't wait to get my hand on the new BD.

I don't see the "shallow sense of space" mentioned. In fact, again and again, I see examples of depth-of-field (examples from the first page of this thread)
Boy that sounds like a load of crapola....  ???

Actually I kind of of buy it. "Low key" lighting and deep focus with depth of field through wide-angle lenses are hallmarks of film noir. Polanski and Alonzo have taken all of these attributes. The difference is that they have shoved the camera right up in people's heads to give very intense close-ups combined with strong depth of field behind. By using widescreen, the heads can literally fill the screen from top to bottom. Take a look at the back of Nicholson's head in the foreground when he is looking at the policeman - if this were done in academy ratio the image to the side of the policeman would be gone and would be replaced by more vertical image that would show more of Nicholson (thereby destroying the close-up) and/or more above Nicholson (thereby destroying the effect of the camera bearing down on the actors). To me it seems that Polanski and Alonao have take all the attributes of film noir, but then used a widescreen image with intense close ups to put their own modern spin on it.

I'm looking forward to comparing the "full" and "wide" screen aspect ratios of my Touch of Evil BD to see if this gives any more insights into the possible effects to be achieved.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 15, 2012, 06:52:22 AM


I'm looking forward to comparing the "full" and "wide" screen aspect ratios of my Touch of Evil BD to see if this gives any more insights into the possible effects to be achieved.


This will only mean that you see in the full frame version more at top and bottom, or the other way round the widescreen is only a masked version of the full screen image. But then the 1,85:1 aspect ratio should be the one Welles shot it for (otherwise they should have only released the fullscreen version), and therefore the image compositions should look better in 1,85:1. So I hope.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 15, 2012, 07:00:18 AM
The name Noir (which is a French invention for a certain type of films) is surely derived from a certain way of lighting these films, but for me Noir as a genre has more to do with the stories told and the conception of the hero. I indeed see Noirs basically as PI films in the tradition of Chandler and Hammet. And the Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are the key films which define the genre (or sub-genre).
Therefore films like Notorious, The Third Man, In a Lonely Place or White Heat are not Noirs. Chinatown is clearly a Noir for me, but If we keep the time frame for Noirs to the 40 and 50s, than I'm generous enough to call it a Neo-Noir.

There is just this month a Noir series on the German / French quality TV Channel Arte which includes Double Indemnity, Chinatown, Hammett, The Killers (1946) and other stuff.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on January 15, 2012, 07:13:45 AM
Noir may have had a strict meaning at one point in time regarding style, but it's certainly altered over the years. I suppose it's a question of whether you demand a dictionary definition (as Mr. Jinks seems to) or accept that the term is more flexible.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on January 15, 2012, 07:14:51 AM
I think we spend more time on the definition of film noir than any other single topic (or ten combines topics) on this board  ;)

 I don't know jack about noirs, but for whatever it's worth, I throw in my two cents: I like to think of noir only as those "clearly noir" films like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, etc. Not that it has to be a PI film (though those 3 all happen to be), but for the style. Yeah, the "underbelly of society" is necessary, but certainly not sufficient. Once you use that "underbelly of society" too broadly, as if it's sufficient rather than necessary, that make virtually every black and white film that involves a person behaving less than perfectly morally a noir, and renders the term/style/sub genre meaningless. Someone once said that "a term that includes everything includes nothing."

eg. some people call Ace in the Hole a noir. Well, it's a black and white film about a person behaving unethically. so are a million and one others. there is zero stylistically that would qualify it as a noir. Heck, virtually the entire movie takes place by day, much of it in broad daylight, and there are zero shadows or anything stylistically noir about it. Once you say Ace in the Hole is a noir cuz of the main character's personality/actions, then I don't see how you are not literally saying that every black and movie in which the main character acts unethically is a noir.

A term that includes everything includes nothing.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 15, 2012, 07:16:20 AM
This will only mean that you see in the full frame version more at top and bottom, or the other way round the widescreen is only a masked version of the full screen image. But then the 1,85:1 aspect ratio should be the one Welles shot it for (otherwise they should have only released the fullscreen version), and therefore the image compositions should look better in 1,85:1. So I hope.

You do indeed see significantly more vertically on the "fullscreen" version, however it's not simply a result of masking to get the 1.85:1 as you do actually get a little more on the edges of that one too. However, you're right in that it's not to the same degree at all, so it's not really a fair comparison. I don't know which was Welles' original intent which I guess is why they included both versions (as well as three others too). I'll let you know about which one I prefer in terms of composition after watching both.

Here are DVD Beaver's images: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare2/touchofevil.htm

The name Noir (which is a French invention for a certain type of films) is surely derived from a certain way of lighting these films, but for me Noir as a genre has more to do with the stories told and the conception of the hero. I indeed see Noirs basically as PI films in the tradition of Chandler and Hammet. And the Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are the key films which define the genre (or sub-genre).
Therefore films like Notorious, The Third Man, In a Lonely Place or White Heat are not Noirs. Chinatown is clearly a Noir for me, but If we keep the time frame for Noirs to the 40 and 50s, than I'm generous enough to call it a Neo-Noir.

Ah ok, I'm more a visual guy in my definition of noir so The Third Man is one of my very favorite noirs with all its wide angles and shadows etc

There is just this month a Noir series on the German / French quality TV Channel Arte which includes Double Indemnity, Chinatown, Hammett, The Killers (1946) and other stuff.

Nice.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 15, 2012, 07:34:59 AM
You do indeed see significantly more vertically on the "fullscreen" version, however it's not simply a result of masking to get the 1.85:1 as you do actually get a little more on the edges of that one too.


That's strange. Do you have a 16:9 TV or an old 4:3 TV?

Normally you shouldn't see more on the sides. Touch of Evil was shot in 1,37:1, and the only way to get a widescreen image is the masking of the 1,37:1 version. And for that the image should be exactly the same at the sides.



Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 15, 2012, 08:03:21 AM
40mm anamorphic is wide. It's usually admitted that everything under 50mm is a wide angle. Do regular 40mm is quite wide (not that much) but anamorphic amplifies the thing. The traditional angle to shot a femeal beauty is 85mm.
But to me, wide angle is part of the noir aesthetic: even if you forget portraits, Expressionist wide shots have always been inherent to noir movies (due to their filiation to German expressionism).


I'm sure Noodles knows a lot more about these things than me as he is actually making films. so he may correct me.

As I have read about it in the past the normal lens is the 50 mm one, which reproduces the images in a way felt normal to the human eye. But the range for normal lenses is from 35 to 5o, and only beneath 35 mm a lens is called a Wide Angle lens.
That would mean that a 40 mm lens is not that unusual. But I'm also now very interested to re-watch Chinatown and check if there are Wide Angle effects visible in the pictures.

Orson Welles on the other hand used a 18,5 mm lens for Touch of Evil which brings an enormous distortion into the depth of the images, and he probably shot every scene with that lens, so that the scenes added by another director are easily visible over their lack of style. At least I recognized them immediately without checking a source.
It was probably the first film which was shot completely with a Wide Angle lens, at least it looks very different from every film which was made before (save probably some other Welles films). And I think that Wide Angle lenses were only rarely used in these days, and directors still don't use them that much, in contrast to the tele lens.
At least the powerful atmosphere of Touch of Evil has a lot to do with Wide Angle images Welles has composed. Of course there is much more why this is one of the best films ever.



Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 15, 2012, 08:32:52 AM
That Techniscope stuff is very interesting to read about. As you may have gathered already, when it comes to lenses I really don't know what I'm talking about at all  ;D - probably best if I remain quiet and leave it to someone like noodles_leone

Well, uh, like Stanton said ;D


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 15, 2012, 10:37:15 AM
That's strange. Do you have a 16:9 TV or an old 4:3 TV?

I was actually going by the DVD Beaver images as I haven't compared it myself yet.

As I have read about it in the past the nornal lens is the 50 mm one, which reproduces the images in a way felt normal to the human eye. But the range for normal lenses is from 35 to 5o, and only beneath 35 mm a lens is called a Wide Angle lens.
That would mean that a 40 mm lens is not that unusual. But I'm also now very interested to re-watch Chinatown and check if there are Wide Angle effects visible in the pictures.

Now are those regular lenses or anamorphic? If I understand correctly from the posts above, isn't a 40mm anamorphic lens more like a 20 or 25mm regular lens and so treated as a wide angle lens?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 15, 2012, 12:41:00 PM


Now are those regular lenses or anamorphic? If I understand correctly from the posts above, isn't a 40mm anamorphic lens more like a 20 or 25mm regular lens and so treated as a wide angle lens?

I don't know if there are great differences between anamorphic lenses and normal ones, again, maybe Noodles knows more. I'm far from being an expert. I'm just interested and sometimes try to understand a few of the things I have read in books.

But Chinatown has indeed Wide Angle images, not as extreme as in Touch of Evil, but I see them. Not in every scene, but in some. Still possible that they also used the same objective for every scene.
A visually stunning film anyway.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 15, 2012, 01:13:21 PM
I'm sure Noodles knows a lot more about these things than me as he is actually making films. so he may correct me.

As I have read about it in the past the normal lens is the 50 mm one, which reproduces the images in a way felt normal to the human eye. But the range for normal lenses is from 35 to 5o, and only beneath 35 mm a lens is called a Wide Angle lens.
That would mean that a 40 mm lens is not that unusual. But I'm also now very interested to re-watch Chinatown and check if there are Wide Angle effects visible in the pictures.


You're 100% right, it's commonly admitted that 50mm is the best way to emulate the human eye, so I was surprised to see Chinatown's DP talk about 40mm instead. The first shot of the short I posted here: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11122.0 is shot on 50mm. It has the human eye look to me.

Now, anamorphic lenses are another story, since you actually have 2 different focal in one image: a 40mm anamorphic lens has the vertical angle of a 40mm "regular" lens combined with the horizontal angle of a 20mm one. So Chinatown is shot in really wide angle if you ask me, although not as extreme as Touch of Evil.
I never worked with the anamorphic format so I'm just saying what I understand of this. You'll probably get more exact information on these links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anamorphic_format
http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=4690



Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: T.H. on January 15, 2012, 01:19:23 PM
I am absolutely stunned that a "is it a (neo) noir" debate broke out.

Thank god for a bluray of this amazing NEO NOIR.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 15, 2012, 01:28:10 PM
Debate #1 "is it a NOIR?" closed
Debate #2 "is this noir a NEO noir?" open
TH says YES! Waiting for the opponents!!


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on January 15, 2012, 04:04:59 PM
Debate #1 "is it a NOIR?" closed
Debate #2 "is this noir a NEO noir?" open
TH says YES! Waiting for the opponents!!

Debate #1 Closed? are we agreeing that its Not?

Debate #2 I'd have to watch it again


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 15, 2012, 07:28:06 PM
DJ, this movie is almost the OUATITW of Noir...
No, it's the OUATITW of PI films...

I wonder if this is what inspired the creation of Rango?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 16, 2012, 09:24:24 AM
As far as I'm concerned, the point of the discussion is: Is Chinatown a great film in part because it is so like a lot of other films that came before it, or is it a great film because it is so different from those other films? For me the answer is obvious, and whether you use particular terms to describe the contrast between classic Hollywood filmmaking and what Towne/Polanski/Alonzo/Evans achieved is unimportant. The important thing is noting the contrast.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 16, 2012, 10:16:22 AM
The important thing is noting the contrast.

So at least it isn't grey.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 16, 2012, 11:08:53 AM
And, again, that contrast is due, in large part, because Towne et. al. are taking inspiration from literary antecedants rather than cinematic ones. In the interviews Towne, Evans, Polanski, even Nicholson gave for the 2007 disc they speak of Chandler and "detective stories." They are unconcerned with any filmic tradition. Towne talks about the historical record. The 2.35 ratio was selected over 1.66 because, apparently, it better represents the scope of normal human vision. Alonzo chose to do as little lighing as possible, and went out of his way to avoid casting shadows (not always successfully). Finally, the original DP for the film was Stanley Cortez, the man who had lensed such noir classics as Secret Beyond the Door and Night of the Hunter. If they had really been going for a noir approach they would have kept him on board--but Evans took a look at his dailies and fired him. At every turn the creative team was going for a new kind of "realism" that would contrast with the movie realism of the past.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 22, 2012, 07:07:56 AM
Have been doing some reading on film style/technique etc. I came across this comment on Chinatown in the following 2002 article by David Bordwell called "Intensified Continuity: Visual Style in Contemporary American Film":

Quote
"During the 1930s, cinematographers increasingly relied on wide-angle lenses, a trend popularized by Citizen Kane (1941), and the normal lens was thereafter redefined as one of 35mm focal length. By the early 1970s, many anamorphic processes allowed filmmakers to use wide-angle lenses, and the lens's characteristic distorting effects (bulging on the frame edges, exaggeration of distances between foreground and background) were flaunted in such influential Panavision films as Carnal Knowledge (1971) and Chinatown (1974). Thereafter, filmmakers used wide-angle lenses to provide expansive establishing shots, medium shots with strong foreground/background interplay, and grotesque close-ups. Roman Polanski, the Coen brothers, Barry Sonnenfeld, and a few other filmmakers made wide-angle lenses the mainstay of their visual design."


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 22, 2012, 07:29:15 AM
Film noir was shot in what is called "low key" light. That is to say that the ratio between the hard, direct "key" light and the soft, diffused "filler" light was huge. This was very different from the standard practice of having a small ratio between the two which used the diffused filler light extensively to even out the harsh shadows caused by the key light. The Femme Fatales were shot in this "low key" light to give them a harsher, more accentuated, beauty that suited their roles perfectly. Consequently when Polanski asked Alonzo to shoot without diffusion, he was basically asking him to shoot her in a noir style.

By the way, my principal source for this comment, save the Polanski observation at the end, seems to have been posted online here:

"Some Visual Motifs of Film Noir" - Janey Place & Lowell Peterson (1974) (http://faculty.wiu.edu/D-Banash/eng395/visualnoir.pdf)

It's a great article.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 22, 2012, 10:57:59 AM
Soderbergh:
Quote
If you watch say "Chinatown," there's no one better then Polanski about knowing precisely when to put the camera on the shoulder and when not. "Chinatown" is like a perfectly modulated piece of filmmaking. You'd think in a period film shot anamorphic, well you don't want to be throwing the camera...but they're isolated, very important instances where he goes handheld and it's exactly the right thing to do.

This is from a recent interview, but he makes similar comments in the "Appreciation" documentary on the 2009 DVD (which will be included on the Blu-ray as well). The handheld work is subtle but it is used several times. This was well before the in-your-face approach to shakey-cam, so the effect is almost subliminal. In fact, until I heard Soderbergh mention it, I hadn't really been conciously aware of the technique in Chinatown (of course, when you start looking for it you can find it easily). This is another example of how the filmmakers took their "old" material and invested it with a new sensibility.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: noodles_leone on January 23, 2012, 03:17:19 AM
Oh I just read an amazing interview that Polanski gave during the shooting of Chinatown and where he said:

Quote
[...] absolutely no gay subtext in X-men so I really wanted to make a Noir, and then came the script of Chinatown and I thought "wow that's almost the Once Upon A Time In The West of Noir!" Let's do this Neo-Noir! It will be filled up with light but it's gonna be a Noir anyway since Noir is not about light! "PI Films" is not even a genre and [...]

Then he compares Chinatown to an early script of OUATIA and says that what he didn't like about OUATIA is the whole "it was dream after all" ending (which was much clearer in the version he read at the time), but that's another topic.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 23, 2012, 06:01:19 AM
Makes sense for me. Polanski really had a concept and it shows.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 23, 2012, 01:36:41 PM
Did he say anything about whether he thinks Angel Eyes is Mortimer's evil twin?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: moviesceleton on January 23, 2012, 02:09:17 PM
Oh I just read an amazing interview that Polanski gave during the shooting of Chinatown and where he said:
Quote
[...] absolutely no gay subtext in X-men so I really wanted to make a Noir, and then came the script of Chinatown and I thought "wow that's almost the Once Upon A Time In The West of Noir!" Let's do this Neo-Noir! It will be filled up with light but it's gonna be a Noir anyway since Noir is not about light! "PI Films" is not even a genre and [...]

Then he compares Chinatown to an early script of OUATIA and says that what he didn't like about OUATIA is the whole "it was dream after all" ending (which was much clearer in the version he read at the time), but that's another topic.
Must have been the same magazine where Kubrick confessed that he actually staged the Moon landing of 1969, George Lucas admitted that the Star Wars prequels were a stupid idea in the first place and Leone said he never directed a scene in My Name Is Nobody. A real treasure, that magazine.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: stanton on January 23, 2012, 02:21:31 PM

Must have been the same magazine where Kubrick confessed that he actually staged the Moon landing of 1969


But he did!
It is well known fact. It was the only way for Kubrick to get a decent enough budget for 2001, and the right for the final cut. Otherwise MGM would have cut 2001 to pieces, like they did with every other ambitious film in those years.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on January 23, 2012, 04:27:34 PM
This is from a recent interview, but he makes similar comments in the "Appreciation" documentary on the 2009 DVD (which will be included on the Blu-ray as well)...

Is that the short-lived 2009 DVD that was rapidly withdrawn after release? From what I can make out, it seems all the documentaries on that one are being brought over to the new BD release.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 24, 2012, 06:21:57 AM
You are correct (and these include the docs that were on the 2007 disc).


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 22, 2012, 06:21:25 AM
Some interesting material here: http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=8394

Two things in this surprise me, and I wonder if they can be right. First, the statement that Towne and Evans disagreed over the ending. It's the first I've heard of this. The disagreement between Towne and Polanski is well documented, but maybe there was a subsequent disagreement with Evans.

Second, can it be true that some of Cortez's work survives in the finished film? Given the fact that the two cinematographers' styles were so different, this is hard to believe. I'd like to see more information detailing exactly where the Cortez material is (until which point I will remain highly sceptical of the assertion).


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 22, 2012, 01:57:02 PM
Disappointing news about the Blu-ray from Robert Harris (via hometheaterforum.com):
Quote
I love Roman Polanski's Chinatown.

 

It is, without a doubt, one of the finest films ever made.

 

A 1974 production, shot on 5254 in Panavision, and along with The Godfather Part II, which was the final production to go through the dye transfer process, a film that made it through towards the end.

 

It was magnificently photographed by John Alonzo.

 

But although the color looks beautiful on this Blu-ray, the disc just doesn't look film-like.  There's nothing horrific going on here.  It just doesn't look correct.  Possibly a bit too much softening or de-graining.  I can't be certain. 

 

There are shots of Mr. Nicholson that have no visible grain whatsoever, but grain can be seen, albeit lightly, in the background, and in neutral areas.

 

This also doesn't look like a recent transfer, as there is more image movement than one might normally see in a current image harvest.

 

The storyline of Chinatown from screenwriter Robert Towne is brilliant, and you'll receive no information in this thread about it.

 

Acting is superb,

 

Everything is superb.  It's one of my favorite films.  It just doesn't quite look like I believe it should.

 

Do I sound troubled?  I am.  I cannot tell you have much I wanted to love this Blu-ray.

 

That said, and let me make this point loud and clear, 99% of viewers are going to love this Blu-ray.  It's colorful, clean, and well...

 

pretty.

 

From a final user perspective, it has everything going for it.  Could it have been better? 

 

Absolutely.

 

Image - 3.5

 

Audio - 4.5

 

Recommended.

 

RAH
Harris doesn't mention whether this represents a useful upgrade from the 2009 DVD, and I'm guessing it doesn't. I think I'm going to pass on this...........


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 22, 2012, 02:13:07 PM
Second, can it be true that some of Cortez's work survives in the finished film?
In the comments section of the piece reproduced above is this interesting comment (from our old friend and erstwhile Leone board poster, Richard--W.!):
Quote
RAH, get yourself over to the AFI library and read the interview transcript with Stanley Cortez. About one-fifth to one-fourth of the film was shot by him. For example, the restaurant scene where Gittes questions Mrs. Mulwray. Note how Faye Dunaway is photographed in this scene as opposed to how she's photographed in other scenes. "Different woman," according to Cortez. He talks a little about portraiture. He was replaced by John Alonzo. There is a difference in the footage.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on April 03, 2012, 07:34:14 PM
This film would be merely great if it weren't for Polanski's mise-en-scene, which takes the whole thing to a higher level of art. Unlike American directors, he tends not to use many establishing shots. Instead, he jumps right into a scene, forcing viewers to pay strict attention.

Here is a rare example of an establishing shot, one of only a handful in the film.
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/7322/china16ba3.png)

Early on, Polanski establishes his use of depth-of-field.
(http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/9159/china1ov0.png)

Here he combines depth-of-field with a character POV shot.
(http://img378.imageshack.us/img378/5830/china11mv7.png)

Character POV shots are infrequent, Polanski preferring over-the-shoulder ones that enable us to see what Nicholson's character sees from the side (we aren't the character, but we are with him). Polanski never follows these with reaction shots of Nicholson: he lets us make up our own minds about things.
(http://img133.imageshack.us/img133/927/china21hx0.png)
(http://img374.imageshack.us/img374/687/china22ja2.png)
(http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1846/china23hq8.png)

When using characters in a depth-of-field shot, Polanski likes to cover three planes whenever possible: foreground, middle, and back.
(http://img513.imageshack.us/img513/1444/china9kt6.png)

He is not, post-Antonioni, above the occasional tableau:
(http://img167.imageshack.us/img167/639/china2ik1.png)

He can also produce a tableau with impressive depth-of-field:
(http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/4751/china18fy1.png)

A three-plane depth-of-field shot with two actors: Nicholson's reflection in the background glass completes the triad.
(http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/2729/china4xu3.png)

Here is an excellent example of P's compositional technique in a single-take scene. John Hillerman, in the foreground, is looking at Nicholson, middle, who is looking at another man, back. The axis is right-to-left.
(http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/4731/china5vm8.png)

Hillerman crosses to frame left, creating a triangle that speaks to the conflict generating in the scene.
(http://img104.imageshack.us/img104/5224/china6cw5.png)

The triangle collapses; tension mounts.
(http://img388.imageshack.us/img388/7978/china7ev7.png)

Tension is diffused, and a new alignment is established, left to right. The new character has supplanted Nicholson and is now in the middle position; Nicholson, about to exit behind elevator doors, is now in the background.
(http://img388.imageshack.us/img388/2661/china8wd8.png)

Symmetry is all: bye bye for now.
(http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/7231/china3vs5.png)


I just the other day finally bought a DVD of Chinatown and watched it tonight so I feel better commenting on the film and these posts.

Quote
Unlike American directors, he tends not to use many establishing shots. Instead, he jumps right into a scene, forcing viewers to pay strict attention.

I don't know if I completely agree about that, it could be a case of there not being many suitable outdoor LA locations left that are going to resemble anything close to circa 1935 LA so that was the only route to take.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on April 03, 2012, 07:37:40 PM
Speaking of Leone, has it occurred to anyone else that Chinatown does for the PI film what OUATITW did for the Western? I've spotted allusions and even direct quotes to The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.

Yes I did notice.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on April 03, 2012, 07:48:41 PM
Absolutely spot-on:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204261704574274152752739772.html

Quote
The Perfect Film Score
At 35, Goldsmith’s ‘Chinatown’ sounds better than ever


By TERRY TEACHOUT

New York

Does film music really matter to the average moviegoer? A great score, after all, can’t save a bad film, and a bad score--so it’s said--can’t sink a good one. Well into the ’40s, it wasn’t uncommon for big-budget Hollywood movies to contain little or no underscoring, and many of today’s directors, following the lead of Martin Scorsese in “GoodFellas,” accompany their films with pop records, not original music. So why bother hiring a high-priced composer and a 50-piece orchestra to crank out a commodity that next to nobody notices?

One word: “Chinatown.”

Roman Polanski’s stark tale of political and moral corruption in Los Angeles, which came out 35 years ago last month, is one of the undisputed classics of a bright decade in American filmmaking. In “Chinatown,” Mr. Polanski and Robert Towne, who wrote the school-of-Raymond-Chandler screenplay, took the disillusioned, shadow-dappled cinematic language of ’40s film noir and translated it into contemporary terms. Every neo-noir film released since then has borrowed from “Chinatown,” which looks as fresh today as it did in 1974. Yet a preview audience hated it, and studio executives were sure that it would bomb at the box office—until Jerry Goldsmith, working against the clock, wrote a brand-new score that helped turn a costly disaster into an unforgettable hit.

Goldsmith, who died five years ago, was one of the most admired composer-craftsmen in Hollywood, a pupil of Miklos Rozsa who scored 170 films, many of them successful (“Basic Instinct,” “Patton,” “Planet of the Apes”) but few of which were artistically distinguished. “Chinatown” was by far the best of the lot, and if you want to understand how film music works, you can’t do better than to pay close attention to Goldsmith’s score. Unfortunately, the soundtrack album has been out of print for years—used copies of the CD now sell for as much as $125—but the music comes through clearly on the remastered DVD version of “Chinatown.” To listen to Goldsmith’s score is to realize what first-rate music can contribute to the total effect of a first-rate film.

The score to “Chinatown” features a highly unorthodox instrumental lineup: one trumpet, four pianos, four harps, two percussionists and a string section. At first glance that looks like the sort of ensemble from which you’d expect to hear a piece of avant-garde classical music, and some parts of the “Chinatown” score are startlingly modern-sounding. But the film opens with an elegiac yet sensuous trumpet solo that floats freely over a cushion of tolling harps and brooding strings, a “love theme” that evokes the doomed romance of Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, the film’s stars. Uan Rasey, the celebrated Hollywood studio trumpeter heard on the soundtrack, later told an interviewer that Arthur Morton, Goldsmith’s arranger, “told me to play it sexy—but like it’s not good sex!”

The tension between the dark romanticism of the string-accompanied love theme and the crisp, bristly clatter of pianos and percussion is what gives Goldsmith’s spare score its powerfully individual quality. Though “Chinatown” runs for 131 minutes, it contains only 23 minutes of music—but every note counts. Instead of the usual wall-to-wall underscoring, Goldsmith saves his fire for the film’s key moments, allowing most of Mr. Towne’s Chandleresque dialogue to be heard “in the clear.” The result is a score so intense and concentrated that it can be listened to independent of the film with equal pleasure.

It isn’t unusual for movies to be rescored under pressure, but Goldsmith’s music for “Chinatown” is so well suited to the film that it’s hard to imagine that he knocked it out at the very last minute. The original score, written by the classical composer Phillip Lambro, was heard on the soundtrack of the version of the film that was shown seven weeks prior to the film’s release date at a preview in San Luis Obispo, a small town north of Los Angeles. “By the time the lights came up, half the audience had walked out, scratching their heads,” Robert Evans, the producer of “Chinatown,” wrote in “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” his 1994 autobiography. Concluding that Mr. Lambro’s “dissonant, weird, scratchy” music (as Mr. Towne would later describe it) was responsible for the film’s poor reception, Mr. Evans called in Goldsmith, and 10 days later “Chinatown” had a new score. Mr. Towne, who was present at the first recording session for Goldsmith’s score, later told a journalist that “you could see the movie come to life. It was like you couldn’t see the movie with the other score, and now you could, and I thought, ‘Omigod, we may have a chance.’”

So it did: “Chinatown” is now universally acknowledged as one of the key American films of the ’70s. Yet most of the critics ignored the score, and though Jerry Goldsmith received an Oscar nomination for “Chinatown,” he lost out to Nino Rota for “The Godfather, Part II.” Nowadays, of course, film connoisseurs don’t need to be told twice that the music of “Chinatown” is central to its greatness—but how many people are aware that Goldsmith’s score is one of the finest compositions of the postwar era, regardless of genre? If only he’d thought to turn it into a 15-minute-long tone poem for orchestra! Perhaps some talented arranger will do the job for him posthumously. I can’t think of another piece of American music written in 1974 that I’d rather see programmed by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony or Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic—even if it was written in Hollywood in 10 days flat.
—Mr. Teachout, the Journal’s drama critic, writes “Sightings” every other Saturday and blogs about the arts at www.terryteachout.com.

Write to Terry Teachout at tteachout@wsj.com

This I don't agree with I just got done watching and do not even remember the score.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on April 03, 2012, 07:51:15 PM
It's a film I've watched many times, and will watch many times more, due in large part to the music.

Sorry the music didn't do anything for me. I'd watch it again & again for the interesting plot.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on April 03, 2012, 08:17:19 PM
DJ I'm glad you enjoyed my post of the John Alonzo interview, but I'm afraid I really don't follow your interpretation of it.

Film noir was shot in what is called "low key" light. That is to say that the ratio between the hard, direct "key" light and the soft, diffused "filler" light was huge. This was very different from the standard practice of having a small ratio between the two which used the diffused filler light extensively to even out the harsh shadows caused by the key light. The Femme Fatales were shot in this "low key" light to give them a harsher, more accentuated, beauty that suited their roles perfectly. Consequently when Polanski asked Alonzo to shoot without diffusion, he was basically asking him to shoot her in a noir style.

As for the lens, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a 40mm anamorphic lens is extremely wide. Allowing the edges of the film to go dark would create a very claustrophobic noir look which, as Alonzo puts it, creates an effect like an old-fashioned view camera.

Consequently, in terms of cinematography, Chinatown is very much Polanski's homage to film noir. The style has just been updated in accordance with more modern technology to make it the very epitome of "neo-noir".

To give you a good counterpoint, L.A. Confidential is often called a "neo-noir" but in terms of cinematography it does not qualify.

One thing I did notice that may be caused by the use of the 40mm anamorphic lens is the cars weirdly all look too squatty, they should look longer, its hard to explain
if you are not familiar with them. I noticed this continually, in all the vehicle sequences.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on April 03, 2012, 08:31:21 PM
Some interesting material here: http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=8394

Two things in this surprise me, and I wonder if they can be right. First, the statement that Towne and Evans disagreed over the ending. It's the first I've heard of this. The disagreement between Towne and Polanski is well documented, but maybe there was a subsequent disagreement with Evans.

Second, can it be true that some of Cortez's work survives in the finished film? Given the fact that the two cinematographers' styles were so different, this is hard to believe. I'd like to see more information detailing exactly where the Cortez material is (until which point I will remain highly sceptical of the assertion).

There is one sequence near the beginning where there are strong Venetian blind shadows upon a wall... Cortez possibly?


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 04, 2012, 08:26:41 AM
I don't know if I completely agree about that, it could be a case of there not being many suitable outdoor LA locations left that are going to resemble anything close to circa 1935 LA so that was the only route to take.
Yes, Polanski in this case may have made a virtue of necessity, but how does that alter the fact of what he did? Regardless of the why, P used fewer establishing shots then others working in Hollywood at the time.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 04, 2012, 08:27:38 AM
This I don't agree with I just got done watching and do not even remember the score.
Then the fault is not with the score.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on April 04, 2012, 03:16:27 PM
Then the fault is not with the score.

lol, I usually remember a great score immediately, (I'm watching the special features as I type with the soundtrack playing) this is ok but nothing outstanding.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Groggy on April 11, 2012, 08:23:29 AM
In the comments section of the piece reproduced above is this interesting comment (from our old friend and erstwhile Leone board poster, Richard--W.!):


Hate to kick a man when he's not here but that seems awfully close to the "trivia" he claims not to find interesting. :D


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on September 14, 2013, 07:15:28 AM
An interesting link that ties into the plot of Chinatown: http://waterandpower.org/museum/St.%20Francis%20Dam%20Disaster.html (http://waterandpower.org/museum/St.%20Francis%20Dam%20Disaster.html)


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on September 14, 2013, 11:38:47 AM
Nice find, CJ. I found this summation interesting:
Quote
The disaster was primarily caused by the ancient landslide material on which the eastern abutment of the dam was built, which would have been impossible for the geologists of the 1920s to detect. Two of the world's leading geologists at the time, John C. Branner of Stanford University and Carl E. Grunsky, had found no fault with the San Francisquito rock. Therefore, an inquest jury determined responsibility for the disaster lay with the governmental organizations which oversaw the dam's construction and the dam's designer and engineer, Mulholland, but cleared Mulholland of any charges, since neither he nor anyone else at the time could have known of the instability of the rock formations on which the dam was built.

This sounds very close to how the dam disaster was explained in Chinatown.


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: Novecento on November 16, 2013, 10:15:18 AM
http://www.openculture.com/2013/11/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-l-a-aqueduct-that-made-roman-polanskis-chinatown-famous-a-new-ucla-archive.html


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: cigar joe on November 16, 2013, 10:46:36 AM
 O0 O0 O0


Title: Re: Chinatown (1974)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 16, 2013, 01:50:30 PM
Definitely, thanks. O0 The 54-minute embedded interview with Polanski is essential viewing. I'm glad they front-load the piece with Chinatown; you can then stay on for the rest of his career or not, as you choose.