Cinema: Everything Is Not So Jake

THE TWO JAKES Directed by Jack Nicholson; Screenplay by Robert Towne

A sequel to Chinatown (released 16 years ago), eight years in the making -- or more accurately, in the preproduction squabbling, with its release twice delayed in the past year -- The Two Jakes redefines the cliche "long awaited." It also redefines "disappointing," and possibly "excruciating" as well.

The year is 1948, and in postwar Los Angeles, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson, of course) is enjoying newfound prosperity at his old trade. For a private eye specializing in "matrimonial" cases, a fluid society with a rising divorce rate is bound to...