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March 5, 2021
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Zodiac
(2007-03-19)
(wgvu) - David Fincher's Zodiac is the ultimate serial killer film, and one of the finest portrayals of obsession I've seen. The latter point is what makes this movie a possible masterpiece for the director of Seven and Fight Club. It's over 2 and half hours long, and it trumps my general feeling that movies are better when they're less than 2 hours. Well, that's kind of a stupid generalization, but in recent decades movies have routinely gotten longer, and usually not for the better. Miami Vice, to name a movie from last year, would've been better if it had been streamlined. The Departed however had to be three hours long. And Zodiac needs to be over 2 and half hours long. That's because it follows a timeline from the late sixties to the late 80s or early 90s, and the screenplay was constructed from the boxes of police documents and newspaper articles that chronicle the Zodiac killings in California. It also has a three pronged plot approach, with scenes depicting the brutal murders, and the cross-cut narratives of the police investigating the crimes, and the newspaper reporters and editors who deal with the story. This is heightened dramatically by the series of letters that Zodiac sent to the San Francisco chronicle editors and their main crime reporter. Mark Ruffalo plays Dave Toschi, the homicide detective who became the models for both the Steve McQueen character in Bullitt and Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry. Ruffalo is a wonderful actor, and in this scene with Anthony Edwards, who plays his partner, he examines one the Zodiac's first crime scene within city limits.Robert Downey Jr. is Paul Avery, the Chronicle's crime reporter covering the murders. Jake Gyllenhaal is political cartoonist Paul Graysmith, who becomes immediately obsessed with the murders. Graysmith is an unusual fellow who is initially scorned by Avery, but when he shows his skills for cracking codes he gains the reporter's respect. (clip) Graysmith's life is consumed by the Zodiac killer, so much so that his family becomes overwhelmed. Chloe Sevigney plays Graysmith's long-suffering wife. The Zodiac killings gripped California in the early 70s, and unleashed a bizarre media circus. This is represented in the film by celebrity attorney Melvin Belli, played by Brian Cox, who conducts a television/radio interview with the presumed Zodiac. (clip) Fincher is an amazing director, who gets every last period detail right. From the cars to the clothes to the very look of the city, it smacks of those years without the compressed nostalgia clich s that Hollywood usually falls into. Hippies are no where to be seen, although they're referenced. The visual tone of the film completely fits the subject matter. The sound of the movie, from the ambience to the music, enhances the way that Fincher constructs it. The editing is artful in ways that only great filmmakers achieve, both invisible and compelling. The actors are all top-notch. Downey Jr. is Oscar material, Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo, Edwards, and Cox are all phenomenal, and various Zodiac suspects, from the child molesting machinist played by John Carroll Lynch, to the movie projectionist played by Charles Fleischer are portrayed with excellence. I loved this movie. Zodiac is a killer. © Copyright 2021, wgvu