Monday, July 14, 2014

The Two Jakes (1990)

Synopsis: After 16 years, it’s the eagerly-awaited sequel to Chinatown. Hey, what could possibly go horribly wrong after waiting such a long time? 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Jack Nicholson returns as private eye Jake Gittes in this atmospheric Chinatown follow-up that’s hit upon ‘the elusive sequel formula for somehow enhancing a great original’ (Mike Clark, USA Today).”

What Did I Learn?: 1) The name of the game is oil. 2) You can’t trust a guy who’s never lost anything. 3) You can follow the action, which gets you good pictures. You can follow your instincts, which'll probably get you in trouble. Or, you can follow the money, which nine times out of ten will get you closer to the truth. 4) Stay in (the private investigation) business long enough and every street leads to a place you'd like to forget, every case brings back memories of what you should have done & what might have been, and every skirt reminds you of another woman... or, if you've got it bad enough, the same woman.

Really?: 1) Hold on – Jake keeps a dummy safe under his desk and a real one behind a painting? Who would do that in real life? 2) Holy shit, take a drink every time Lillian Bodine (Madeleine Stowe) flies into a blind rage and wildly overacts. 

Rating: It’s hard to follow up such an iconic classic as Chinatown, and not surprisingly, The Two Jakes falls somewhat short, although it isn't a bad movie. Overall, the plot is rather implausible, Stowe’s performance is terrible, and it clearly lacks the stylish direction that Roman Polanski provided Chinatown. That said, I loved the dialogue (see: “What Did I Learn?”), and Nicholson is fun to watch as the hard-boiled gumshoe. 7/10 stars.

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