Recently, I watched “Chinatown” (1974) again. "Chinatown" was the last movie Roman Polanski filmed in the U.S.
I guess no one likes Polanski any more. But this detective movie is almost perfect. It is strangely timeless. The cinematography is fantastic, and the screenplay is cleverly plotted (one of the best ever written).
It's interesting to consider this film in a historical context. It is set in Los Angeles in 1937. The film alludes to swindles by L.A.’s first families in procuring water for Southern California and acquring land, and the city's corruption.
Chinatown is a neo-noir in the tradition of Raymond Chandler (“The Big Sleep”). Jack Nicholson’s character, Jake Gittes, is bitter, and somewhat detached to his surroundings. He is a lone hero on a quest, alienated from the outside world.
Nicholson and Faye Dunnaway have great chemistry. "Chinatown" made Nicholson into one of Hollywood's top leading men. Maybe the twist at the end of the film is a bit tarnished. “Chinatown” is still a masterpiece.