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Member's Reviews

Zodiac, a review by Jon

4 out of 5

San Francisco in the late 60s is terrorized by an enigmatic serial killer, calling himself The Zodiac and taunting detectives by sending codes to the newspapers. He was never caught, but a cartoonist, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) at the Chronicle never gives up, obsessively picking up where the police have seemingly left off and eventually believing he has proved the killers identity. But at what cost?

This is an epic tour de force by director David Fincher, seemingly as obsessed with detail and authenticity as Graysmith himself. It's a long film at almost 3 hours but engrossing. That one killer could hold a city essentially to ransom for so long is fascinating. Nerdy, socially inept cartoonist Graysmith is very well played by Gyllenhaal who convinces as the character develops and never gets overshadowed by the as usual superb RDJ, and becoming more confident but obsessed in equal measure as he builds and destroys his own family over the years. Early in the film he is doing little more than trying to crack The Zodiac code because he likes puzzles. The real drive of the investigation is by two detectives (Mark Rufallo and Anthony Edwards) and a journalist (Robert Downey Jr.). As the years take their toll on those three in various ways, Graysmith comes to the fore.

That's really the point of the film, as one of its taglines suggested. That not all a serial killers victims lose their lives. Just their friends, family, health and sanity!

As it's more drama, bordering on documentary, than it is thriller, this is an incredible achievment by Fincher. It's very detailed and studious, but he still finds room for tension and flair. The murder scenes are few, but very graphic as you'd expect, and the dialogue is lively. He concentrates on evoking a sense of time which comes across vividly. And there are lighter moments, especially when Rufallo's Toschi (who McQueen based Bullitt on apparently) walks out of a Dirty Harry screening, muttering about "due process"! Later there's a brilliant scene where Graysmith goes to one potential suspects house against his better judgement. Then of course, seeing the net tighten so very close around the most likely suspect, just to let him go again is a screaming at the TV moment! The final scene is fantastic, delivering on a promise made earlier by Graysmith that he just wanted to look the killer in the eyes. Aparently happened too, if not quite the same way.

It's a straightforward plot and like any true story that you hadn't really followed before, hard to review. It sags a bit in the middle, but it is an exhausting pace. If I have one complaint, I was disappointed by how little the San Francisco seems to come across. As I said before, he really evoked a sense of time, but not place. Unlike classic San Francisco set films, like the before-mentioned Bullitt and Dirty Harry, or Vertigo, I was left feeling like this could have happened anywhere. That was odd considering Zodiac was synonomous with the city. In fact I heard later that one key location was unavailable and had to be recreated with a CGI backdrop; I think you can tell. The next evening I watched Gone Baby Gone and that brought home just how important environment can be.

But that said, this is obviously a passion project for Fincher and has been for some time. The more visceral Se7en now seems like it was inspired by the Zodiac legend. It's a story that could easily have been done by Scorcese, Eastwood or even Spielberg, but I feel that only Fincher could do it this well. It's quite a unique film really, despite police procedurals being very common.

(From Zodiac **** on January 22nd, 2009)

Member's Reviews

The Seventh Seal, a review by Antares

The Seventh Seal (1957) 72/100 - This is my second viewing of this film and although I'm raising my rating a bit higher than the first time I watched it, I still can't understand all the praise this film receives. After my first viewing, I thought maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind or maybe my expectations were a bit too high. So this time, I decided to just let the film wash over me and see what I absorbed. Well, I really enjoyed the scenes with the Knight, Death, the Squire and to a certain extent, Jos, Mia and their child, but every other character seemed to be there just to fill out the running time. I also have to wonder if my disinterest lies in the fact that I attended Catholic schools in my youth for twelve years, and that pretty much turned me into an atheist. So theological philosophizing is something that's not going to get a rise out of me.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

(From Antares' Short Summations on May 8th, 2014)

Member's TV Reviews

Tom's Random Star Trek Reviews, a review by Tom

DS9 6.08 Resurrection
Writer: Michael Taylor (Writer)
Director: LeVar Burton
Cast: Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko), Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Michael Dorn (Lt. Commander Worf), Terry Farrell (Lt. Commander Dax), Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko), Colm Meaney (Chief O'Brien), Armin Shimerman (Quark), Alexander Siddig (Doctor Bashir), Nana Visitor (Major Kira), John Towey (Vedek Ossan), Philip Anglim (Bareil), Scott Strozier (Security Guard)

This time around, two characters from the mirror universe come to DS9. Mirror-Bareil and mirror-Kira. I never found the character of Bareil very interesting which made this episode rather dull.


(From Tom's Random Star Trek Reviews on September 26th, 2009)