Friday, March 16, 2007

Fincher's Zodiac

Over my 22 years I have mostly passively watched films. Very few have actually caused me to think about it days after watching it for the first time. Zodiac is the change in that. It is very much a film that is something that I have changed my initial reaction to it. So there is the movie that introduced me to Fincher, Fight Club, that has been my favorite since I have seen enough to effectively gauge a designated favorite. But this one was so different from his former work. If Seven was his Ying of serial killers, Zodiac is the Yang. Where Seven takes on the thrills of the chase, Zodiac takes on the methodical steps of the chase. Not since JFK has there been a more obsessive procedural.



The movie opens on July 4th, 1969. I think this is where Fincher’s real brilliance shines. It is his ability to completely recreate the time. He is the master chef who knows exactly the right combination of music, settings, clothing to feast your eyes on for a night. Faintly in the background, fireworks being set off just enough to subconsciously register in your mind almost blinding you from the complete chaos that was about to take place. For days after Donavan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” was stuck in my head, something that I kept echoing in my head.

Seven, Panic Room, Fight Club, they all seem to have the same style of visual. The streamline across the floor of Tyler’s apartment, the digital tracking shots that set the layout of Jodie Foster’s house, these are all very much the brand of a “Fincher” film. Zodiac is very much a Fincher film, but it departs from his usual flamboyant display of visual prowess. He trades them in for a more subtle, but more grandiose, approach. This is most apparent with his time passage of the Golden Gate Bridge and what I have been heard referred as God’s P.O.V. The only shot that reminded me of his normal digital wizardry was a montage of newspaper clippings, I know he just couldn‘t restrain himself.

David Fincher is no young man, he is in his mid-40’s, but you wouldn’t think it from the number of films that he has done or the energy that they emit. Fight Club is, by far, the best example of this. Narcissistic, nihilistic, self-destructive, but very much in the vain of grunge/alternative rock out of the early nineties. It is by far his masterwork. Although he only has six feature length films to his credit, it is a career that should be, if not, envied by most directors. He has managed to take the troubled Aliens3 film out of trouble and turned it into a film that is very much his own vision, lead Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman into the depths of Dante’s hell in the literary-seeded thriller Seven, and directed two films about the paranoia. Lastly, Fight Club, as I mentioned before, his masterwork. He created the most intriguing, awe-inspiring films of the 90’s. It was paned by critics, but it happens to be one of the most poetic films about nihilism and the pains of being a youth of the nineties.

Zodiac’s most outstanding achievements are the tiny details, mainly Fincher’s attention to the factual accuracies of the film. For the four different appearances of the Zodiac killer, three different actors were used. All of them were chosen to match the description given by the witnesses. The audience doesn’t notice that there were three different actors because like a good filmmaker, Fincher lets us use our imagination to fill out his face, make conclusions of our own. Often, I found myself trying to piece the case together on my own. “He is driving a white car, but in the first killing it was a dark colored vehicle. He is not the killer, it can’t be him.” Fincher allows our mind to play around with the facts, creating our own possibilities and solutions.



Zodiac marks the Fincher’s arrival into the world of not just a great director, for which he already was, but on the level of more mature and complex films. The only thing that I truly found lacking was the use of Graysmith's cartoonist implemented in the story, or actually Graysmith's destruction of family been more substantial. Wouldn't it be nice if they took it a little further. But none the less, Zodiac pushes the levels of on-screen violence, if you want to argue check out the lake stabbing scene, it tests the audience with its meticulous detail-centric pacing, it maintains itself to be one of the best films of 07’. Okay, so the last statement will take a while to prove right, but you get the gist.


Grade: A

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1 Comments:

Blogger Nick Plowman said...

It was such a great film, and completely under rated, one of the years bests.

12/22/2007 6:21 PM  

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