Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

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Unanswered Questions

There is a thread about fun film composer pictures on the Film Score Monthly message board.

I found a glob of slime in my coffee that initially alarmed me, then I realized that it was only a remnant of the doughnut I was eating and dipping in the coffee. It nearly gave me a heart attack.

I started reading heybishop's incisive review on Zodiac, got about as far as "First of all I the movie begins with circa 1970's Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. logos at the beginning. Right from there: I was set" and didn't return to read the rest of it until after I had seen it. I knew if heybishop was opening his comments that way, then I had a pretty good idea where he was going, and I wanted to see the film before I read them. So I grabbed ahold of Raz and went to see it (actually, it wasn't that simple, but that is perhaps a story for another day).


Mark Ruffalo as Inspector David Toschi

The above-the-title actors in the credits are Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. However, in keeping with the tone of the film, which is much more democratic, they are all listed on the same card, as the rest of the cast list unfurls. The star of this film is not any of the actors, although each and every one of them do a fine job in their roles. The star of this film isn't even David Fincher, although this is clearly all his doing. No, the film is a vehicle for the case itself, which is gone over in detail and with great accuracy according to suitboyskin, who is intimate with the case and with Robert Graysmith's books, which served as the basis for this film.

This is a long movie, but its length reflects the longevity of the mystery itself (which remains unsolved - a fact that the film is quite clear on, apparently to the chagrin of some reviewers). The first part of the movie has sequences that depict the killer's methods moderately graphically - it probably isn't as gory as the last horror film that you saw, but the docudrama style lends it a sense of realism that is very disturbing - but after the establishment of the danger, the film then plays out relying on the memory of these scenes to generate much of the tension.

This is a very procedural film, and much like most obvious reference point, All the President's Men, the movie dispassionately goes through the different (and often conflicting) pieces of evidence, mirroring the investigations of the characters themselves. Unlike All the President's Men, the film is not confined to two newspaper reporters. Instead, we have an the extremely large pedigreed cast including Anthony Edwards, Elias Koteas, Brian Cox, Chloë Sevigny, Donal Logue, Dermot Mulrooney, Philip Baker Hall, John Carroll Lynch, John Mahoney, Adam Goldberg, James Legros and Clea Duvall, each concentrated on the reality of the moment that outlines the breadth of the investigation, both by the police and by the media circus that surrounded the Zodiac killings.


Robert Downey Jr. as self-destructive reporter Paul Avery
and Jake Gyllenhaal as cartoonist Robert Graysmith

The size of the cast implies that the film would be short on characterization, and it is true is that depicting the events in perfect period accuracy is, indeed, the focus of the movie. However, because of the investment of the cast itself is so palpable, characterization breaks through, especially in the final third of the film. The tagline of the film, "There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer," is really what it turns out that this film is about.

The film is made to reflect the periods it delineates, and even though it was shot digitally, it looks for all the world like it was photographed by Harris Savides in Panavision. It has the same detail and many of the artifacts that charcterize anamorphic photography have been seamlessly added to the film. This is the first time I've ever seen a digital cinematographic process ever successfully mimic anamorphic, and the the hard drive Viper system looks like it may be the best of several worlds, providing a beautiful widescreen image that does not require the cinematographer to compromise composition for multiple aspect ratios, but with all of the advantages of using spherical lenses and the low-light capabilities of digital video.

The processing of the photography is an aspect of the film that is very subtle, but it is very telling in terms of how important establishing period is to Fincher. To that end, he also called All the President's Men composer David Shire out of retirement to provide the low-key but very effective score (which also has echoes of Shire's other great paranoia classic, Franccis Ford Coppola's The Conversation). Donald Graham Burt's production design is spot-on. I challenge anybody to find anything at any point in the film that is not period accurate (it is even so detailed as to imply things that are not covered directly by the film, as certain things seen peripherally in Arthur Leigh Allen's trailer proves).


"I said I won’t use anything in this book that we don’t have a police report for. There’s an enormous amount of hearsay in any circumstantial case, and I wanted to look some of these people in the eye and see if I believed them. It was an extremely difficult thing to make a movie that posthumously convicts somebody."
- David Fincher
I think that there are some people that have been dissatisfied with the fact that the film doesn't have one of those slam-bang endings that serial killer genre movies usually do. Of course, the true identity of the Zodiac killer has never been revealed, and it would be beyond the scope of the film to have included a fictional resolution. This is not a thriller about a serial killer, it is a docudrama about the impact that the serial killer had on the lives of those hunting him. Because Fincher only sticks to facts, there is no room here for postulating. There are suspects, there is evidence. But there is no case.

Just like how it happened.



For those who must see more of Six without actually buying the magazine, Russ has provided, as a public service, a link to the Tricia Helfer's Playboy pictorial. I am assuming that the subject matter should be enough to warn you whether or not you should click on that link while at work.
Tags: cinema, david fincher, david shire, film music, food, reviews
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