Chinatown at the Michigan

Chinatown at the Michigan Theater's Noir SeriesLast night it was a pleasure to see, for my first time on the big screen, the bona fide classic Chinatown at the Michigan Theater. My date, for all intents and purposes a native of a Los Angeles, had never seen it in any form – can you believe it? (Of course, I have yet to see any of the Godfather movies, so I'll just shut up.)

Afterward we hit Bar Louie for a post-movie drink and discussion. She enjoyed it immensely (although covered her eyes for the famous nose-cutting scene), but I know it made her homesick, too, with its various shots in and around L.A., all of which she recognized.

John Huston as amiable psychopath Noah CrossThis amateur film geek has long been a fan of noir, neo- or otherwise, and seeing Roman Polanski's dark vision (he supposedly fought screenwriter Robert Towne over the unhappy ending) on the big screen allowed me to notice more things than I had before, giving me an enhanced appreciation for everything from the superior acting to the excellent cinematography. (Quick aside: John Huston's Noah Cross must rank in the upper echelon of all-time screen villains. He has little actual screen time, but his sociopathic malevolence touches every character in the film, one way or another, directly or indirectly.)

I'm also a fan of Polanski's work, especially his psychosexual tales of terror like Repulsion (criminally underrated and/or unknown), Rosemary's Baby, and The Tenant. (Even his less successful films like Frantic and The Ninth Gate offer something to the viewer.)

As I recall, the little-known sequel, 1990's The Two Jakes, is considered something of a convoluted mush in the hands of Jack Nicholson as director, but both of us are now interested enough to finally check it out. Hello, Netflix...


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