Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jason watches "Zodiac"

I've been meaning to see it for a while, and just caught it before it left theaters for good. I saw it at the Cerrito Speakeasy, the sister theater of the Parkway. It was my first time at the theater, and they have a pretty nice setup, and of course beer and pizza (although I only had one beer, not a full pitcher like I had with "Grindhouse").

Anyway, as far as the movie, I was most interested in seeing it because it's directed by David Fincher. With a resume that includes "Alien 3" and "Fight Club", it's fair to say his career has had its ups and downs (although I actually have a soft spot for "Alien 3", in a nihilistic, fuck-you-world way, even more than "Fight Club"). But the real surprise is he hasn't made a movie in 5 years. "Panic Room" wasn't bad, it was just needlessly indulgent in places (what's with flying the camera through the handle of a coffee mug? What does that show other than David Fincher has a hard-on for visual tricks?). Well, in "Zodiac" Fincher plays everything pretty straight. Not many tricks other than one scene where Robert Graysmith (Jake Gylenhaal) hallucinates Zodiac's cipher symbols all over the newsroom. Even the violence, while there, is sedate in comparison to his earlier works. It's as if Fincher is making a concerted effort to just tell the story in as straightforward a manner as possible. The result is a perfectly good movie, particularly the stellar cast (Gylenhaal, Robert Downey Junior, Mark Rufallo, and even the supporting characters like Philip Baker Hall, Brian Cox, Anthony Edwards, Chloƫ Sevigny, etc.) It also has a flair for making the excruciating minutiae of police work and inter-jurisdictional squabbles interesting. Ultimately, it's hampered somewhat by the fact that it's officially an unsolved case and so there isn't a big resolution, although it does point to a likely suspect. And interestingly, 3 different actors play the Zodiac in different murder scenes, none of whom plays the main suspect, so trying to glimpse his face in the shadows will just frustrate you.

In the end, it plays everything so straight, and is so long (2 hours, 38 minutes) that it started to stretch my patience. It remained interesting the whole time, but in a way I kind of missed Fincher's earlier visual showmanship, even if it was kind of distracting in "Panic Room".

1 comment:

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