Books and Movies Reviews


"Chinatown and J.J. Gittes"
As a classic detective movie, Chinatown involves a "hard-boiled" setting and a private investigator. The story takes place in Los Angeles, California during the 1930's. The mood of the film is typical of that of a detective story, and the gradual discovery of clues completes the film's mysterious atmosphere. Though the detective myth is atfirst followed, Director Roman Polanski quickly deviates from the typical story line. Instead of gaining more control over the situation through clues and increased knowledge, our detective falls more deeply into the web of helplessness. The wrongdoing in Chinatown is not limited to one person. Instead, an entire society revolves around an individual whose level of evil greatly outweighs any one man's quest for justice.
The one man, in the case of Chinatown, is J. J. Gittes, a "typical" private eye. His cool and calm attitude matches his suit and clean-shaven face, indicating a businessman who is always in control. As the audience might expect, Gittes was once a member of the police force, and he still has close ties to the law. His independence from law enforcement, however, helps to define what and who he is. On a deeper level, Mr. Gittes is different from other private investigators. Divorce work, something most private eyes avoid, is J. J.'s specialty. Gittes treats his job as a job, and he puts aside the sense of honor common to Hollywood private eyes. Also, unlike most traditional detective depictions, J. J. Gittes is not a truly lonely man. As an example, although he has an array of liquors in his office, he only uses them for his clients. As the movie continues, Gittes takes the role of the seeker of true justice rather than the enforcer of institutionalized law.
This shift of roles begins when a thug slices J.J.'s Gittes's nose. Though the actual cutting scene is very serious and even somewhat fr…


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