Saturday, February 21, 2009

Zodiac. A


There is no part of 'Zodiac,' that is boring, tedious, poorly acted, scripted, or plotted. This is about as brilliant as movies can get. It is absolute dynamite. David Fincher, who previously directed such hits as 'Se7en' 'Fight Club,' ' Panic Room,' (and most recently 'The Curious Case of Benjmain Button'), is without a doubt one of our greatest living directors. He is gifted in that he can do so much with his movies. They aren't for a special audience like Kubrick's movies are. They're crowd pleasers, artistic statements, and simply crafted to perfection in nearly every area. In 'Zodiac,' which is his best film, Fincher gives us the true story of the infamous Zodiac killer, a psychopathic lunatic who scavenged around California killing people in the 1960s. The three central characters are a cartoonist named Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and a detective named David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo). Each of these characters is obsessed over who the Zodiac, who sends letters to the Chronicle and demands publicity, including his notorious symbol, to be printed in the paper, actually is, but their frustration pulls them away until only Graysmith is left. The problem is that Graysmith, who is a former Eagle Scout and a puzzle genius, is limited in the amount of information he can receive seeing as he isn't a cop. As the story grows longer, his obsession grows stronger. He even gets to the point where his wife and children leave him because they fear he is making himself available for the Zodiac to cause more harm. This is a stunning movie. The Zodiac only appears in the first third of the film, and yet the suspense never ceases. There are plenty of frightening moments in the film, the scariest being when the Zodiac stops to help a young woman, who has a baby, change her car tire. As I said, everything in this movie is just about perfect. The plot is brilliant, the acting, especially the performance from Downey Jr., is Oscar worthy. Fincher's direction is masterful, James Vanderbilt's script is dead on. There is also a great performance from John Carroll Lynch, who plays Arthur Leigh Allen, still one of the prime suspects in the Zodiac case. We most recently saw Lynch in Eastwood's 'Gran Torino' in which he played the profane, yet friendly barber. Here he is terrific and convincingly creepy. The decade is almost over. Soon we'll be rolling back on couches and examining the best movies over the last ten years. 'Zodiac' will definitely be high on my list.

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