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Polanski's 'Chinatown' one of the few pitch-perfect films made (****)

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Posted: Friday, November 9, 2007 10:00 pm

In all the years I've been writing this column, I have never discussed Roman Polanski's film noir classic "Chinatown" at any length. It's a film of such beautiful perfection, of such deep personal meaning to me, that it seems that anything I have to say about it would be rudimentary - meaningless, even - in the context of such an overwhelmingly grand piece of cinema.

Since I first viewed it at the impressionable age of 10, it has stuck with me like few other films have. I've seen it a dozen times since and I hope to see it dozens more, each time discovering another overlooked or forgotten detail embedded in screenwriter Robert Towne's endlessly complicated vision of corruption in pre-war Los Angeles. It's a treasure of a film, just recently re-released on DVD with a clean new transfer and previously unavailable behind-the-scenes footage. If you haven't seen it before, or haven't seen it in a long while, it's a prime opportunity to enjoy one of the only truly flawless films ever made.

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