Zodiac

Personally, I’m quite ambivalent about David Fincher. I’ve always found his films too uncomfortably mannered. I’ve nothing against style (c’mon I love the Coens, Gilliam and Tarantino), but there’s just something about the cut of his films. [CUT: removed a very clumsy tasiloring analogy that degenerated in to a rant about Diesel clothes the people that wear them and their nasty style nazi advertising.] I really liked The Game for all it’s flaws. (Which contrary to popular thought are not the plot losing way two-thirds in and resolving itself in what’s seen as a clappy-christian cop out but the fact that it’s a big hollywood production and not filmed by two teenagers on their pocket money and featuring all their friends.) This opinion could’ve changed with current serial-killer true-story flick Zodiac. Which is an object lesson in good, solid ‘proper’ film making.

In the late sixties/early seventies, the Zodia Killer murdered at least five people. He began to correspond with the press and police using a series of codes and ciphers. At the time, he entered the popular consciousness and culture in the way only serial killers can (including being heavily drawn upon for the first Dirty Harry movie). He was never caught. Which, you would think, might present a problem for narrative resolution. No such thing. What we get is tense and tight from start to finish. With a deftly handled conclusion that could’ve oh-so-easily been completely fudged.

It’s a film that seems to have pretty much cast itself. Robert Downey Jrgets to look dissolute and walk like a ballerina (did he do that before Chaplin? is that why he was cast?). We need someone to veer from geek to possessed: Jake Gyllenhaal.
Chloë Sevigny does that near anemic thing where she’s almost not there – surprisingly fitting for the part. Real (larger than) life media-savvy lawyer type? Call Brian Cox. Only Mark Ruffalo seems to be doing something unrecognisable. Of course, having now looked him up, I realise that there was no reason I should’ve recognised him. No matter how familiar his name, until this movie I hadn’t actually seen him in anything else. (Unless he made one helluva impression in that one episode of Due South he was in back in ’94.) Every one of them excellent in their own way.

Don’t get me wrong, Fincher hasn’t adopted some sort of neo-realistic documentary style. The film has some brilliant stylistic flourishes (see the time-lapse building of the Transamerica Pyramid) but never intrusively. I really don’t want to use the word mature, but this is a proper grown-up film. All in just a an exercise in consummate film making. More please.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

29 June 2007 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Film

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