Sunday, April 01, 2007

Handwriting Analysis Never Had It So Good

Yes, I'm back! Back on the blog and back inside the inviting, darkened hollows of the movie theatre. I was called back to see my first feature of 2007 so I could be the last person in the universe to see David Fincher's Zodiac. Now, I realize that anticipatory fervor for the film gave way to a lot of underwhelmed " was nice seeing Fincher directing again" reactions. But to be perfectly honest, I was more than satisfied. The serial killer movie told from the perspective of the behemoth investigation said killer launched could easily be pegged as the most sprawling Law & Order episode of all time, but I enjoyed the ways in which Fincher showed the Zodiac burrowing its way into the lives of the three main characters, whether it be through dogged investigation (Mark Ruffalo), narcissistic paranoia (Robert Downey, Jr.), or sheer teacher's-pet intellectual curiosity (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Speaking of which...that cast. Nice. This is the first time that Fincher has opted for the sprawling-cast approach, but every time you turn around, it's another recognizable face. Donal Logue and Elias Koteas may not be much more than familiar faces for the viewer to place upon the various jurisdictions involved in the investigation, but there's real enthusiasm and character to be found in Chloe Sevigny and Brian Cox and John Carroll Lynch. Not to mention perfectly typecast cameos from Adam Goldberg and Clea DuVall.

Back to Ruffalo and Downey, though. Fantastic one-two punch from a director who's no stranger to them. But unlike past parings (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in Seven; Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club), this isn't a duet. They share scenes, and the results are predictably electric, but they're more cogs in the greater machine here. Which makes the fact that they walk away with the movie even more remarkable. If it's even possible to walk away with a Fincher movie -- though I'd certainly argue that Helena Bonham Carter did so in Fight Club, not to mention Charles S. Dutton's monstrous overacting in Alien 3 and Jared Leto's cornrows in Panic Room. I hold a special place in my moviegoing heart, always, for Robert Downey, Jr. He's a loose wire, once again, in Zodiac, to the point where I began to wonder at what point do we have to cease giving him so much credit and instead pass the kudos on to the casting director who had the bright idea to cast him in the first place. It's the Jack Nicholson argument: how much credit should we give a man who's simply doing what he always does, no matter how enjoyable that may be? Of course, the very existence of Two Girls And A Guy is cautionary tale enough to not ever take a good Robert Downey, Jr. performance for granted.

So here's to you, you chronic substance abuser. Way to make a good movie even better.


Anonymous said...

Wait Zodiac is your first feature of 2007, that's just not right!! Have you seen the ad for 300? Hot men in Speedos fighting and killing each other!!

jessica said...

I guess I'm more in the "enjoyable but not wildly thrilling" corner, though I will admit to getting tense a few times. And Gyllenhaal's mounting obsession was fascinating in a sort of Castaway way.

But you know what really has me over the moon? BROTHERS & SISTERS, JOE!!! AWESOME!!!

Joe R. said...

I'm actually only recapping B&S this week, but it's great to have it recapped at all. Love that show.