03 March 2007

Succinct Film Reviews: Zodiac Edition

75 minutes of a good movie (too bad it ran for 163 minutes).

Longer film review, Zodiac, David Fincher's latest doesn't know what it wants to be, and that damages the film overall.

Does it want to be a fetishistically exact play by play of the original Zodiac's crimes?
Partly, but that could have been covered in 30 minutes.

Does it want to be a incompetent cops 'out-thunk' by a motivated outsider movie?
Partially, but it doesn't quite go far enough in that direction, mostly it just blames bureaucratic intransigence and due process for keeping the cops from catching Zodiac.

Does it want to be a fun little period drama evoking the place and time that was late 60s and early 70s San Francisco?
Some, but again, the other elements fight against this, plus it doesn't feel particular authentic. It's rare for a period piece not to exhibit clues as to the time the film was actually made. This was clearly a mid 2000s picture about the 1970s. That fact hampers this film's ability to transport you out of this time and get you to sufficiently suspend your disbelief to watch the story unfold.

Also, another quibble is that this film had way too many actors in it.

Don't all films have actors in them?

Yes, but every damn role isn't played by a known face. This cast has the likes of Brian Cox, Donal Logue, Elias Koteas, James LeGros, Dermot Mulroney, Chloe Sevigny, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Ione Skye (uncredited), Mark Ruffalo, Philip Baker Hall, Clea Duvall, Adam Goldberg, and Roger Rabbit. Lesser known character actors filling all those roles would have been just as effective and less distracting.

And speaking of Roger Rabbit, why doesn't he work more often? His 'creepy guy' in this is the best part of the picture. Charles Fleischer is a pretty damn good actor, yet his non-voice over credits of late seem rather slim.

Also, Jake Gyllenhaal just doesn't sell the nebbishy, obsessive, socially inept ex-Eagle scout well. He's miscast in this and it damages the whole picture.

Robert Downey, Jr., as Robert Downey, Jr., does a decent job of playing Robert Downey, Jr. (you mean he wasn't playing himself, oh, well, you could have fooled me).

The ads before the film were pretty awful as well. One crappy suspense/horror film after another was trotted out. In summary

Rednecks making snuff films starring upscale couples=Vacancy
Saw/Grudge/The Ring/Magic*100 with ventriloquist dummies=Dead Silence
High school Rear Window=Disturbia
High school DOA (with a supernatural twist)=The Invisible
Patsy framed for attempt on President, fights back=Shooter
God is back, He's out for blood, and this time, It's Personal=The Reaping
A Condescending Look at Trailer Park Paranoia/AIDS Parable Masquerading as Horror Film=Bug

All I can say is, this was a lousy movie to start my 2007 film viewing (no other film released in 2007 got me interested enough to sample). Hopefully next week's 300 will be better.

UPDATE (04 MAR 07; 11:00am) Just remembered one more film that was previewed (7 previews, is probably about 4 too many), Bug, and added to the list. It's William Friedkin's latest, but he's always advertised as "from the director of The Exorcist", judging from the imdb profile on the film, and the fact that it's based off of an off-Broadway play, the ad campaign is highly deceptive. But, on the plus side, Ashley Judd plays 'trailer' really well, and looks kind of hot doing it. Also gleaned from imdb, this play and screenplay was written by Counterguy from the classic Seinfeld episode that gave us Festivus.

1 comment:

bill said...

Good review, I'll probably skip it. Caught "Casino Royale" tonight and enjoyed that. Lagged a bit in the middle and the second climax and plot twist/betrayal was a bit much. Still, it did a good job of establishing James Bond as 007 and erasing 30 plus years of cartoonish Bond films.

Showed a preview for Reign Over Me with Adam sandler and Don Cheadle that looked interesting. Never thought I'd say that about a Sandler film. Though Cheadle is almost always brilliant and should have been given an Oscar for "Devil in a Blue Dress."