The Two Jakes Special Colletors Edition Jack Nicholson

The Two Jakes Special Colletors Edition Jack Nicholson
In its opening scene, J. J. "Jake” Gittes’ (Jack Nicholson) feet are kicked up on his desk and his fine two-tone shoes fill the frame. In the background, Harvey Kietel, the other Jake, rehearses a lover’s quarrel in deadpan. When Gittes moves over to his client, he realises they are wearing the same footwear. The scene serves not only as a metaphor for the duality of the characters, but is representative of the characters’ position in life. In this sequel to the masterpiece Chinatown, the familiar characters have entered middle age. Conditioned to the finer things in life, the passions of youth are dwindling in intensity. Instead of attempting to revive these personas as the virile adults we left in ’74, it presents them aged. This becomes the most endearing quality of the film, but is also its downfall. Chinatown and The Two Jakes share similar film noir-esque plots: desire for the control of natural resources balanced equally by progress and greed; torrid affairs of love and opportunity; and secrets that are ready to twist the viewer’s perspective at any moment. But where Chinatown followed a detective with a two-room office uncovering a conspiracy where the little man could rock the foundation of establishment, this story finds Gittes as a building and agency owner, one more ready to play golf than fight the powers that be. Screenwriter Robert Towne returns to Gittes’ world with a script examining how people deal with the past as they age. Mortality, regret and responsibility are themes that seem more at home in a Terms of Endearment-type relationship drama than a fantastical, Marlowe-esque detective picture, but, to his credit, Towne almost makes it work. The flaw is he didn’t take a lesson from his own archetype: Chinatown presented an economy of cause and effect where no character was wasted, where everything was set up and resolved. Instead, this film meanders in a mid-life fog, not exactly sure what it started out doing. This is aided by the fact that Roman Polanski didn’t return to direct and in his place Nicholson stepped up. He does an adequate job of making a good-looking movie but it falls into the genre’s clichés. This DVD sheds more light on the subject when compared to the original film’s. Where Chinatown has numerous features that reveal the collaborative nature of its creation, The Two Jakes has one: "Jack on Jake.” In this interview, Nicholson comes off as a man proud of his work but coming to terms with its critical and commercial failure. This failure is due to defining moments such as when a widowed character (Madeleine Stowe) irrationally attacks Nicholson in an unexplainable sexual frenzy. Nicholson asks her to get down on the ground and "stick her ass in the air.” He then catches his breath, has a drink of water and looks at her — 20 years his junior — with absolute bewilderment, as if he’s asking himself, "does this scene even belong in the movie?” (Paramount)