Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

#51 Post by Barmy » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:39 pm

Shot digitally?

Pass.

Travis
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 11:35 pm

#52 Post by Travis » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:46 pm

Take a look at some of the available clips, the digital actually looks pretty good.

User avatar
The Invunche
Alleged Socialist
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:43 am
Location: Denmark

#53 Post by The Invunche » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:57 pm

Barmy's grandad wrote:With sound?

Pass.

User avatar
tavernier
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm

#54 Post by tavernier » Tue Feb 20, 2007 6:08 pm

^^^ =D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>

filmnoir1
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:36 pm

#55 Post by filmnoir1 » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:08 am

I saw this tonight and it is a really great film. It seems that Fincher has finally regained his sense of mystery and despair. The film works as both a form of historical document chronicling those heady and frightening years when the Zodiac terrorized all of California and as an investigation into the nature of obsession which grips all the parties involved. Glynehaal is pefectly cast as the clean cut cartoonist Robert Graysmith who possesses a hidden desire to help in the case but whose efforts are viewed as unimportant because of his status as a cartoonist. Ruffalo as Det. Toschi is also well cast and these two men represent the dynamics of the film.
Fincher takes great pleasure in playing with the audience's expectations as he introduces several different suspects as the possible killer, all the while illustrating how the fear and uncertainty of those years worked to destroy the people who were forced to deal with the killings on a day-to-day basis.
The level of violence is restrained in order to delve into the actual process of the police tracking the case. In addition there are some really great camera moves, especially the opening of the film which is shot from the inside of a car as it drives down a street, creating the illusion that you are in the car. The camera becomes fluid and acts to accentuate the moody nature of the narrative while also allowing the actor's free rein to play.

User avatar
Fletch F. Fletch
Big fan of the former president
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:54 pm
Location: Provo, Utah

#56 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:00 pm

The Village Voice raves.

Entertainment Weekly ran a piece on it.

User avatar
Fletch F. Fletch
Big fan of the former president
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:54 pm
Location: Provo, Utah

#57 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:19 pm

Andrew Sarris' review.

Miami Herald interview with Fincher.

L.A. Times interview with Fincher and James Ellroy (?!):
2 men, 1 obsession: the quest for justice
By Rachel Abramowitz, Times Staff Writer
February 28, 2007

Director David Fincher would do well to bring crime writer James Ellroy along to all of his interviews, as he did just days before the opening of his film "Zodiac." Tall, beanpole thin, the 58-year-old author riffs like a jazz musician on violence, masculinity, the toll of obsession.

Ellroy is a charter member of the high-functioning, trying-to-be-happy walking wounded. When he was 10, his mother was killed and her body was dumped near a high school — that's the defining prism of his life and his art in such books as "The Black Dahlia" and "L.A. Confidential" and his autobiography, "My Dark Places." He's been haunted by the fact that her killer was never found.

Fincher has made a movie about a cadre of men haunted by the serial killer Zodiac and whose lives are punctured, contorted and shaped by that hunt. Zodiac was a killer who terrorized the San Francisco area in 1968 and 1969, mowing down lovers in secluded lovers' lanes and getting high off taunting the media and the police with bizarre cryptograms that he sent to the newspapers. He then disappeared — and was never caught — although the film details the investigation by two cops, Bill Armstrong and Dave Toschi (Anthony Edwards and Mark Ruffalo, respectively); a boozing, self-destructive journalist, Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.); and a shy cartoonist, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), who comes closest to solving the deaths.

For all of his interest in crime and the wounds it leaves, the 44-year-old Fincher, who also made "Se7en," and "Panic Room," insists he's not the haunted type. Though gray flecks his hair, he appears the buoyant young techie. He speaks with his hands — as if they could magically render the scenes unspooling in his head and keep their roiling emotions at a safe distance.

He grew up in the San Francisco area during Zodiac's reign, when the killer threatened to mow down schoolchildren as they got off their yellow school buses — and Fincher's own father, a journalist, nonetheless made him take the bus.

Zodiac was Fincher's original boogeyman — a figure who mesmerized a city, much the way a film director mesmerizes an audience. "You are 7 years old and you know people have been bound and stabbed at Lake Berryessa. You go, 'I've been at picnics at Lake Berryessa.' Do second-graders talk about murder? Oh, yeah. Especially when you were in Marin County, which was, is such an idyllic place."

Unsolved mysteries

Other serial killers were caught, but not Zodiac — which as a kid Fincher resented. "When you finally saw David Berkowitz ("Son of Sam"), you got to erase it, because you were, 'Look at you. You are a schlub.' What is the line the Good Witch says in 'Wizard of Oz'? 'Oh, rubbish, you have no power here. Leave before somebody drops a house on you.' "

Fincher remembers when his family left the Bay Area when he was 8. As he watched the hills recede from the back of his family's Audi, he said, he thought about the Zodiac killer and wondered: Are they going to catch that guy?

"It didn't keep me up at nights, but it was one of those things on Halloween when you are 8 or 9 years old and you curb your egging of houses and toilet-papering and go home at 11 because the Zodiac is out there," he says.

"Artists always harken back to that, which aroused the moral and erotic imagination," says Ellroy. "With me it's my mother in conjunction with 'The Black Dahlia.' Sex, justice, morality, the details of police work and forensic detection, lives in enormous duress — that's what gets us inchoate. Years later we become dramatists. We want to get back. We want to know how we got to where we are today. We want to honor the gift that we were given imaginatively."

Fincher and Ellroy know each other slightly, because at one point Fincher was going to direct the screen adaptation of Ellroy's "Dahlia" book. He wanted to make a five-hour, $80-million miniseries with movie stars — and when that fell through, he turned to Zodiac, which dealt with similar themes. They met up recently at Fincher's Modernist Hollywood office — Ellroy came along primarily because he is such a fan of Fincher's movie, which lands in theaters Friday. The conversation turns and returns to what binds the two — a mutual interest in obsession and the destruction it leaves behind. Still, given the nature of their temperaments, the author offers a distinctly more visceral take and the director a more analytical one.

For Ellroy, who has grown to hate the helter-skelter pace of so many testosterone movies, the film vividly re-creates what he experienced when he teamed with retired Sheriff's Deputy Bill Stoner to reinvestigate his mother's death. "It was read files, talk, engage in interviews that went nowhere. The entire year fueled by what is the great dramatic tension of this motion picture; which was two hours and 38 minutes long; it is almost entirely conversation, discussion, rediscussion, reassertion, and it's a wholly tense, kinetic filmgoing experience. I've never seen a film that so gloriously and intelligently captures their lives and what homicide work is."

"When you talk about obsession, you have to talk about the toll," says Fincher. "Toll is not something you can explain. It's something you have to feel. Can you make a movie — will you ever set out to make a movie where people's necks hurt? I will, I like that."

The film delineates clearly between the two cops — who at the end of the day knew they were doing a job and could go home to their lives — and the civilians: the journalist and the cartoonist whose lives slowly deconstruct as they willfully throw themselves into the pursuit of a killer, which Graysmith believes he's found, although he can never bring the suspect to justice.

"This movie is a whole metaphor for men and how we all go assertively into the world and how we countermand our own personal chaos by trying to impose order on external events," says Ellroy.

His assessment at first sounds a little high-brow to Fincher, who goes on to explain, "I was interested in this whole notion of justice. At what point do you achieve justice? A therapist friend of mine had a great quote: 'You don't have to kill all the rattlesnakes in the world, but you have to know where they are and avoid them.' At the end, Graysmith has identified the rattlesnake and knows where he lives. He's able to go, 'I can't take you to court. I can't get a grand jury convened, but I know it's you.'

"When you look at obsessive characters — my father was a little bit like that — there is going to be something that fuels that. I look back on my 20s and go, 'Thank God there was no PlayStation, because I would never be what I am today.' I would have lost years off my life because it is dangerously fascinating to me."

Indeed, as Ellroy points out, obsessives just need to find an arena to exercise their personality. "A guy like that — and I am obsessive on two marked fronts — I'll find it. Wherever I am, whether I'm in Moosefart, Mont., … or Los Angeles, Calif. This is Avery and Graysmith — they were looking to take a fall, and they found it."

They're not trying to simply self-destruct, says Fincher. "You're talking of people who are looking for something to feed this part of the makeup. They have to get to the bottom even if it means swimming to it. Got to get to the bottom of the case. Get to the bottom of the bottle. You get to the bottom. That's what they did."

Ellroy knows this impulse and uses it in his work. "I lie in the dark, night after night after night, brooding. And I am either thinking about the work that I do or about women…. That's it! It's a little about 58 years and I am as bad as I was when I was 23. I suspect it's going to keep me alive for a very long time. It turns on me, but I indulge emotion, and I give back generally to the work, to the narrative point."

Two men, different lives

As the crime masters swap notes, it's clear that Ellroy not only talks the talk but was forced to walk the walk, although his devastating firsthand experience with violence provides the well of his art. That doesn't seem to be true for Fincher. One is, in a sense, a method actor; the other opts for the British school — simply using one's imagination.

The director shrugs. "I'm a kibitzer. It's just what interests you." He sighs, suddenly frustrated, slightly defensive. "I'm tired of this moniker of being dark, dark, dark." He says he's not personally, and "for the fact of the matter, I don't even think my work is."

But he goes on: "I'm not interested in making a movie where somebody goes out of their way to kiss their wife to show you that they are a good person," he says, mockingly. "I am not here to placate."

When Fincher leaves the room briefly, this reporter asks Ellroy if he believes that one needs firsthand knowledge to truly understand and re-create the horror of crime.

He holds no one to this standard. Slouching down in his seat, his longs arms outstretched and his head resting on the table, Ellroy sighs like a wise master. "The imagination is unfathomable and endless."

User avatar
John Cope
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 5:40 pm
Location: where the simulacrum is true

#58 Post by John Cope » Wed Feb 28, 2007 5:40 pm

Armond's not surprisingly harsh take.

Though I don't entirely agree with him on Fincher's merits (I think he overlooks or misunderstands the ways in which certain ideas are realized), I suspect he may be on to something in the following passage:
That bridge F/X is the movie's money shot. It will certainly get the fanboys wet—perhaps more than the cruelly detailed, methodical gun and knife attacks and some silly haunted house stunts in the second half. It's merely showy and does nothing to probe the mystery of evil or the lead characters' morbid obsession with unsolvable crimes. Problem is: Fincher's technique distracts from a resolved mystery or narrative closure; it encourages apathy that suggests resolution and absolution are impossible. Zodiac's ending is a shocking let-down, not because it's gruesome but because it nullifies itself. This time, Fincher puts everybody's head in a box.

Toschi and Graysmith's decades-long pursuit becomes a dead goose chase. This interminable come-on is characteristic of Fincher's advertising background in the way it reduces audience interest to pointless money shots and sound-bites. He has mastered a shallow craft; his faux artistry diminishes film narrative to soullessness. Fincher pilfers the cultural past the way music video directors catalog art-book images. He transposes the phenomenon of serial-killer paranoia into the trivia of pop tunes as period markers, then references period movies from Dirty Harry to All the President's Men—movies that aren't good enough, three decades later, to evoke any useful emotion.
He's sure to be read as merely contrarian with comments like these but there is definitely something here that is not addressed and may in fact be systematically avoided in all the praise this movie (and Fincher) is receiving: the absence of a notion of genuine humanness and sympathy in defiance of nihilist gestures of inadequacy somehow given de facto prominence. The way movies are received, after all, tells us much about the current tenor of the culture. But perhaps it's not fair to expect the kind of take I am describing from Fincher. That is simply not the view he privileges and, ultimately, is it any less legitimate than the way someone like Egoyan would have handled this same material?

User avatar
Max von Mayerling
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:02 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

#59 Post by Max von Mayerling » Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:23 am

Just saw this last night.

It seems to me like Armond's problem is that he doesn't want to see movies that suggest "resolution and absolution are impossible." At that level it strikes me as more of a philosophical debate than an aesthetic critque. It's like critiquing Million Dollar Baby for promoting assisted suicide.

And what, on earth, is a "useful emotion"?

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

#60 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:48 pm

Armond White wrote:Problem is: Fincher's technique distracts from a resolved mystery or narrative closure
In a movie about a killer who was never caught? Now I haven't seen the movie, but does this comment not strike anyone else as absurd?
Max von Mayerling wrote:And what, on earth, is a "useful emotion"?
For a review criticizing a paucity of substance it sure makes a lot of empty statements.
Armond whoever wrote:This interminable come-on is characteristic of Fincher's advertising background in the way it reduces audience interest to pointless money shots and sound-bites.
Wow. I mean I know Armond's not very good, but I wasn't expecting him to stoop that low.
Last edited by Mr Sausage on Sun Mar 04, 2007 12:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
kinjitsu
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 1:39 pm
Location: Uffa!

#61 Post by kinjitsu » Sat Mar 03, 2007 9:44 pm

Why anyone with the slightest amount of critical acumen would want to waste his or her time reading Armond White's reviews is a mystery to me.

User avatar
Max von Mayerling
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:02 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

#62 Post by Max von Mayerling » Sat Mar 03, 2007 9:51 pm

On a slightly different note, I will add that I thought the digital image was amazing. I may not have the most discerning set of eyeballs, but I thought the thing looked beautiful. I wouldn't have realized it was digital if I hadn't read so beforehand.

User avatar
Antoine Doinel
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Contact:

#63 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:41 pm

The complete technical breakdown of how Zodiac was shot by director of photography Harry Savides.

User avatar
Max von Mayerling
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:02 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

#64 Post by Max von Mayerling » Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:52 pm

Great link. If this & INLAND EMPIRE are what the digital future has in store, sign me up. It would be interesting to get even more information about the technology on this "film," or whatever we're supposed to call these things now...

User avatar
Belmondo
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:19 am
Location: Cape Cod

#65 Post by Belmondo » Sun Mar 04, 2007 1:10 am

Even if we need no more of Armond White's peculiar opinions, you will be happy to know that he is factually incorrect also. He states that the movie provides "no definitive answers to the killer's identity", when it most certainly does, given that there was no legal resolution. He decries the "thrill of violence", but the movie surprisingly non-violent - a few graphic scenes in the first hour but the last ninety minutes are strictly PG. The "police procedural" aspect and "absurd model of All the President's Men" are meant to be highly negative criticisms, but they completely deflate his argument of "pointless money shots". Next time we talk about "All the President's Men" and "Zodiac" will be when our children tell us that they have both stood the test of time.

User avatar
Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

#66 Post by Matt » Sun Mar 04, 2007 1:40 am

Max von Mayerling wrote:It would be interesting to get even more information about the technology on this "film," or whatever we're supposed to call these things now...
Have you already read this post?

User avatar
exte
~_~
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:27 pm
Location: NJ

#67 Post by exte » Sun Mar 04, 2007 3:18 am

[quote]“We could lose data some day, but let's be honest — that's always been the case with film, as well,â€

User avatar
Highway 61
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:40 pm

#68 Post by Highway 61 » Sun Mar 04, 2007 4:16 am

I would agree with White's position if that were a review of Fight Club, but with Zodiac, Fincher surprised the hell out of me by keeping the violence and the MTV visuals to a minimum. Yes, two of the murders are heavily stylized, but Fincher's rightly motivated in doing so since they're moments of high drama and discomfort. Otherwise, Fincher's direction is rather mellow, allowing his terrific ensemble of actors to move the film along.

Nothing
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:04 am

#69 Post by Nothing » Sun Mar 04, 2007 6:31 am

35mm release prints 1k resolution?! I wonder what kind of backhander Fincher is getting for putting out such a comment... :p

User avatar
Joe Buck
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 6:59 pm
Location: New York

#70 Post by Joe Buck » Sun Mar 04, 2007 3:52 pm

I saw the film over the weekend. It's long and exhausting but keeps you interested. I really liked it.

marty

#71 Post by marty » Sun Mar 04, 2007 7:09 pm

Nothing wrote:35mm release prints 1k resolution?! I wonder what kind of backhander Fincher is getting for putting out such a comment...
I recently attended a Sony presentation of their new 4k digital projection systems and the accompanying post-production hardware. Screened on a large cinema screen, the 4k projection looked very good.

soma
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:40 pm
Location: Melbourne

#72 Post by soma » Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:35 pm

Nick Schager from one of my favourite critical publications, Slant Magazine, gives it a rave review and a near perfect score.

I cannot wait for this...

User avatar
Antoine Doinel
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Contact:

#73 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:41 pm

An interview with Fincher.

Though I'm really looking forward to seeing this, I'm far more interested in seeing the stuff that the studio made him take out (especially the musical montage as described on the previous page), ie. Fincher's cut.

User avatar
Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

#74 Post by Matt » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:58 pm

Antoine Doinel wrote:Though I'm really looking forward to seeing this, I'm far more interested in seeing the stuff that the studio made him take out (especially the musical montage as described on the previous page), ie. Fincher's cut.
I'm really interested in seeing an extended cut as well, but no one should hesitate to see this film now (not implying that that's what you're saying, AD). It's a great piece of work as is. Get out there and get those box office numbers up so that Fincher has the clout with the studio to do a special edition DVD.

User avatar
Antoine Doinel
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Contact:

#75 Post by Antoine Doinel » Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:11 am

Oh, I'm definitely going to be seeing this in theaters. I just hope it doesn't get buried next weekend when 300 comes in and decimates the box office. It will definitely be hard for this film to break even, given its opening ($12 million) and budget ($85 million) unless it has good word of mouth.

That said, the Fincher DVDs out there, particularly Fight Club and Se7en (Platinum Series) have done remarkable business so the studio would be remiss not to milk the DVD for all it's worth. I just hope they don't jerk around Fincher's fans and release the theatrical cut first and then the deluxe package a year later.

Post Reply