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Non-Review Review: The Two Jakes

I’m going to be completely honest here, and possibly ruin my reputation as a film boffin. Until I held the DVD of The Two Jakes in my hands about ten years ago, I didn’t even know there was a sequel to Chinatown. The belated sequel languished in development hell after real life intervened – there was no way that Polanski could direct a sequel to perhaps his most famous film (at least not in Los Angeles, where it was set) and the movie that followed became caught in a tug of war between actor Jack Nicholson and writer Robert Towne, both of whom wanted a shot at directing. Nicholson won, but one can’t help but get the feeling in watching the film that the movie might have been better served with a stronger and more impartial director.

Will the bad guy get his just deserts this time around?

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Non-Review Review: Chinatown

“You may think you know what’s you’re dealing with,” a character warns private detective Jack Gittes at one point during Chinatown“but, believe me, you don’t.” Later on, Gittes confesses to his lover that, when he was a police officer working in Chinatown, his beat consisted of doing “as little as possible”, an anecdote that screenwriter Robert Towne reportedly heard from an officer who had actually served in Chinatown – rather than an officer involving himself in some sort of event that he couldn’t possibly comprehend, the police would actively disengage themselves from the community. That’s the core of the corruption at the heart of Polanski’s film – how little anyone actually knows about what is really happening, and how it’s easy to ignore these things rather than attempting to deal with them.

A nosey detective...

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