Tag Archives: Zodiac

What a killer [Zodiac] (103461)

Zodiac was a crime-thriller that stayed true to its genre.
Very often I find myself watching films similar to this one. Detectives, murder
suspects, clues and theories, then at the very end a conviction. An easily
predicted and foreseen conviction. Directors often use this technique where
they make it really, really obvious that they want you to believe that this person
is the killer. Ideally people should be “shocked” to find out that it was
actually the guy that the clues don’t point to.

In Zodiac, the film is very realistic (it is after all,
based on a true story). Some clues point to Allen while some contradict his
involvement and point to other possible suspects. Also, the case lasts for many
years just like in real life where justice is often delayed due to lack of
evidence, reasonable doubt and alibis, most of them remaining unsolved to this
very day. Unfortunately, circumstantial evidence is not sufficient proof of

In my opinion the movie is very accurate in portraying the often
time-consuming and meticulous work of an investigator/detective. Graysmith’s
relationship with his family gradually deteriorates with his constant attention
on solving the mystery. Meanwhile, Avery turns to alcoholism after becoming
paranoid and Toschi is demoted. Frustration is at an all time high because of
the killer’s ciphers and messages that aim to ridicule the police. That could
possibly be one of the most irritating feelings in the world, knowing that you
were wronged by someone but powerless to retaliate because you don’t know who
that someone is.

Because the story is told from the eyes and ears of the reporters
and policemen hunting the suspects, we are never given a specific motive for
the killings, only assumptions. This is critical in adding tension to the story
and giving it that film noir vibe. We are left to our own imagination to deduce
the identity, motive and any discernable pattern from the killings.

I was quite happy with the casting they did on Zodiac. Each
actor seems to fit the character he/she is playing. Robert Downey Jr. plays an
arrogant prick who soon turns into an alcoholic (what a coincidence). Jake Gyllenhaal
is always the perfect poster boy for the typical novice (like in Jarhead). Mark
Ruffalo the hard-nosed but generally friendly professional (Shutter Island) and
finally John Carroll Lynch who just looks plain creepy for some reason.

I enjoyed the ending of the film because it provides a
little bit of closure but still leaves doubt over the identity of the Zodiac
Killer. This allows us to finish watching the movie but still thinking about it
long after the credits have rolled. What perplexes me though is how the hard
criminal evidence exonerating Allen could have been easily fabricated. The
handwriting may have been one of his victims or an accomplice forced to write
it on his behalf. The same can be said for the DNA sampling which reveal absolutely
nothing because the letters could have come in contact with anyone. Also, why
did it have to take 14 years for the original surviving victim (the one from
the beginning) to identify Allen as the real killer? Shouldn’t they have asked
interviewed him at the exact moment that he recovered and Allen became the
prime suspect? Just a few things to think about.

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Posted by on 29 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Zodiac: A Murder Mystery at its Best (083568)

Zodiac, a film by the critically acclaimed director David Fincher, lives up to his repertoire and if not, may even surpass it if possible. The second time for me to view this film, I’ve come to appreciate it so much more. What Fincher has done is truly remarkable, taking what seemingly may come off as “boring” and “dull” in essence that this is a film almost entirely about research and study, instead he has used his skills and talent to produce a motion picture that will keep the bravest of souls at the edge of their seats in suspense.

Gritty in nature, the film revolves around the mystery of the Zodiac killer, based on true events. What I exceptionally enjoyed about the film as well was the excellent use of scoring and a soundtrack that would pierce directly into the souls of the audience. Although perhaps more than 90% of the movie is dialogue, it is what that dialogue revolves around that keeps the movie so entertaining and enthralling. Witty, smart and humorous,  the conversations had in Zodiac are a prime example of how dialogue can carry a film. The exchange of words between Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.’s characters are captivating and charming in their own right. As are the moments of dramatic silence when clues are coming together and the excitement that ensues of a character realizing a sudden connection in evidence or previous information that was mentioned.

I absolutely love it when a detective is putting together the pieces of a puzzle, it’s exciting, adrenaline packed and leaves the audience with the utmost desire to hear what this all boils down to. The twists are there, just as there are red herrings as well. It is in fact these false clues that leave the audience cringing at their seats, shrugging while trying to cover their eyes and ears and yet still can’t take their eyes off the screen. For example, when Gyllenhaal’s character is at the home of a movie poster maker for who he believes shares the same writing style as that of the letters from the Zodiac killer, the audience is met with an eerie silence and absolute shock when the man mutters “I made those posters,” thus insisting that this man is the killer himself. The tension in a split second is built to a breaking point and just when it seems that the situation could not get any more intense, Gyllenhaal’s character proceeds to go to the basement with the aforementioned man only to let his suspicions and fear get the best of him as it climaxes with him hastily running out of the household. It is these moments that make the film so amazing and emotional.

My personal favorite part of the movie was towards the end, when Gyllenhaal’s character enters the store where he believes the prime suspect of the Zodiac killer now resides. Previously in the film we hear Gyllenhaal’s character mention how he is driven to find this man because he needs to “look him in the eye and know it was him.” In this scene we see his character enter the store and ask for the assistance of an employee (the suspect), what transpires is a dramatic shot of Gyllenhaal’s character starting into the eyes of the suspect whilst nothing at all is being said. With nothing but that, the film is somehow resolved as he has fulfilled what he had set out to do, leaving the audience with closure that that man was indeed the Zodiac killer.

Ultimately, this was a fantastic film and has now become one of my all-time favorites. The eerie and violent nature of the film makes one want to look away and at the same time desire for more. A thrilling ride from start to finish, Zodiac showcases how murder mysteries should be made and its effect when at its best.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Noun: A belt of the heavens within about 8° either side of the ecliptic, including all apparent positions of the sun, moon, and planets, and divided by astrologers into twelve equal divisions or sign

Zodiac is also known as the 1960’s American murderer famous for sending messages to the government and their local newspaper about his murders written in codes (zodiacs). I already knew about this psycho killer before watching the movie. I saw him in the TV show, The Insider, where they told the story about Zodiac. So before watching the movie, I thought I already knew the ending.

When we were told that we were going to view Zodiac, I was actually excited to watch knowing that I already what would happen. I never found myself reading about the film but when I heard about it, I immediately thought this would obviously be about murder and mystery. So I thought this would be action-packed with blood and thrill. I was psyched at the beginning of the movie there the first murder scene occurred. A random boy and a girl were in a car when a man attacked them by using a gun and firing several shots. The man fired more shots to the girl which killed her. But in the boy’s case, he was able to get out of the car. As he sat, by the car, the man shot him again. Luckily, he managed to survive this attack and in the end of the movie, he will later be of great importance and help to the investigation. Talking about the first murder scene, I agree that it was a beautifully shot murder because the build up of it all was so unexpected. I also liked the way the camera’s position is place during the murder. You are given different perspectives of it. When the attack happened, there was a perspective from being a bit distant from the car looking from the outside then we creep in closer still looking from the outside but having a more magnified view of the scene. There are also perspectives of the murderer and the ones getting murdered as well.

Personally, my favorite parts of the film were the murder scenes and the parts where there was suspension and action. Zodiac is such a long movie that I did not really enjoy that much even if the actors were one of my favorite actors. I had expectations and I believe that this movie did not meet them. I think what contributed to that is the story isn’t really thrilling. Like discussed in class, it is a research movie all about finding who the killer is. It was a very long process and at one point I already found it dragging. I like how the characters were built and how they were so in depth already by the end of the movie. In the end, I thought they wouldn’t find the killer. But what the movie showed is that they had a suspect but they weren’t exactly sure.

I can’t really say much about this mainstream movie but then watching it will open your  mind and your heart.

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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Mainstream Mystery : Zodiac 2007 [092805]

I like Jake Gyllenhaal. Knowing that Jake Gyllenhaal was starring lead in the film gave me enough reason to pay attention to it. However, as the movie progressed, I was completely engrossed in the plot and everything that was happening to it that whether or not Jake Gyllenhaal played the lead, it did not matter all that much. I appreciated that another mainstream movie was to be shown in class and in this case, one that was of suspense and drama.

At the beginning of the film, I already knew it was going to be an exciting film. However, the first murder that occurred was kind of predictable. A couple in a car coming from a wild party, solitarily driving into a dark place : It was a typical entree to a horror or suspense film. It was mentioned in class how most of the murders take place at the beginning of the movie and I found it interesting that it was done so. The rest of the movie was simply a mystery, waiting to be solved.

I must say, Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job in portraying his character as the cartoonist-turned-detective obsessed to find the true identity of the Zodiac killer. As to why he became so obsessed, I am not exactly sure. Was it because people looked down on him because of his job? Was he so desperate to prove that he could do it? In any case, throughout the film, it could be seen how his role as Robert Graysmith turned from an awkward, quiet man who kept to himself into still one who kept to himself, but obsessed and simply creepy.

I must say that I was completely entertained by Paul Avery, played by Robert Downey, Jr. He is another actor I love. Though he played the drunk, famous man, the way he acted still reminded me about his claim to fame, Iron Man.

There were a couple of scenes in where I was kind of falling asleep. Maybe the film was just too long for me. Some scenes may have been too dragging and unnecessary. But there is also a chance that it was only because of the temperature of the classroom that made me want to curl up and just, sleep. Do not get me wrong. Zodiac was not at all boring. However, there were parts in the movie that simply went on for too long.

Nevertheless, Zodiac is an interesting thriller and I constantly found myself at the edge of my seat, either frozen with anticipation or freaking out. It intrigues me very much how it was based on a true story. Out of curiosity, I did my research and I found the pictures of each character: Robert Graysmith, Paul Avery, David Toschi and Arthur Leigh Allen; both the reel and the real people; ( and I am amazed how some actually look like each other. I must commend the makers of the film for casting more or less, the right people.

The Zodiac killer must have been quite an interesting man. Freaky, yes, but interesting enough to have a movie based on what he has done.

“I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest, because man is the most dangerous animal of all … I will not give you my name because you will try to slow down or stop my collecting of slaves.” – Zodiac Killer’s Cipher Decoded, 1969

You would think that these things could only happen in the movies. It was not. If one knew this while watching the film, I think it creates an even bigger impact and it achieves what I think the director wants the film’s audience to feel as they watch it.

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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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I’m a fan of most David Fincher films, from Se7en, Fight Club and the more recent The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. Zodiac however, just didn’t do it for me like the others did. I found the movie slow and boring even the first time I saw it before this time in class, and Robert Koehler’s shared a lot of points that helped me articulate why exactly I wasn’t as drawn to this film as I thought I’d be (being a huge fan of crime/killer flicks).

First was the Village Voice review by Nathan Lee. I was disappointed as well by the fact that I wasn’t given a more traditional film of its genre. Although I understand another point made by Koehler, that the mystery of not being provided omniscience makes the audience feel more involved and invested in the solving of the crime, I don’t think enough payoff was given for this to be done successfully. Though it was an interesting take on the traditional crime film, I think this wasn’t the perfect crime story for it. This made for a very slow, uneventful film in which the audience was just left as clueless as the investigators were, following them find nothing. The only action the audience was provided with were the murders and the initial appearances of the ciphers, but other than that nothing interesting seemed to happen. I would have personally preferred the slow, gradual revelations provided in more traditional crime films as opposed to how nothing seemed to ever be revealed in Zodiac. Considering if the film was meant to make you feel sympathetic towards the characters and their frustrations with solving the case, I don’t see how the audience would appreciate not being given any payoff for the effort we seem to have been compelled to invest as well.

Although I often find veering away from the usual interesting, I feel as though the film would have been better if it had just stuck to its genre. Other creative ways could have been utilized to add color to an already established genre without leaving the audience in the dark. I think the intention was worth giving a shot, but the outcome just wasn’t so great. I also didn’t like the idea of not having closure to the ending. As with any other crime flicks, the audience may feel involved and invest in the finding of the killer, but without the triumph of actually catching the killer and putting him away, it makes it seem like it was all for nothing. I feel that this is exactly what Zodiac offers, a deceiving journey that leaves you just as clueless and eager as the characters in the film were.

I don’t completely understand what about it I didn’t like, or why it didn’t work for me, but I can say that the experimentation Fincher did with the crime film genre on this one could have worked but sadly did not. The idea was there, it just wasn’t for Zodiac.

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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Zodiac (071289)

I’ve always wanted to watch this movie mainly because of one reason: JAKE GYLLENHAAL. #fangirl

I was excited when I found out that we’re going to watch this in class. I didn’t know why I didn’t watch this movie before but it seemed pretty big back in 2007. After watching though, I’m sad to say that I didn’t like it as much I expected. I have to say this movie is more enjoyed by patient viewers. I am not one of them.

Zodiac is a crime suspense thriller that revolves around the Zodiac killings that happened in the 1970s. (I heard back in 2007 that this was based on a true story. Plus points!) It focuses on how the police and media dealt with the Zodiac killer’s and wannabe-zodiac’s letters.

I liked that it showed the true unglamorous and dull side of investigations. Not all crime investigations are all like CSI with all the drama and action scenes. I know most of the time they’re just talking or sitting down on their desks with piles of paper around and scrunched up foreheads. I love the parts when Jake Gyllenhaal explains the Zodiac alphabet and how he figured it out. There were a couple of funny witty lines for some comic relief.

I didn’t like the movie because it was so long and it kept bringing me higher with suspense and excitement only to bring me back down. There were a lot of gripping scenes that kept the viewers entertained but there were dragging scenes as well. During the scenes when the killer is active and they get a new letter, there’s tension and momentum but when it turns to Jake’s character and his one-man venture, the intensity of suspense decreases. I guess I’m just used to heart-pounding non-stop suspense shows like CSI and Lost. Plus the fact that the movie ends with the case being unsolved is frustrating.

The cast and acting, however, is awesome. Mark Ruffalo has that whole investigator feel going on similar to David Krumholtz of the series Numb3rs. Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as a person and that cocky son-of-a-bitch attitude really suits him. Jake Gyllenhaal as the quiet, nerdy and somewhat insecure but whip-smart low-key hero is perfection. He’s not too cocky confident looking like Brad Pitt but not too pathetic looking like Michael Cera. I think Shia Labeouf would fit this role also.

In terms of decor and costume, the period set and prop pieces were faithful to time. In terms of lighting, the use of dark cold hues is appropriate for the mood of the movie but I noticed that most scenes have a blue tint that adds the modern feel.  Shots were sharp and compositions were good but it lacked cinematic flair and style that would have made the film and the experience of watching it more enjoyable.

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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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A show of David Fincher’s Genius

Directed by one of my favourites, this film weaves an intricate mystery thriller that unfolds in such a methodical way that it seems almost like clockwork. the editing is very clean. It is more than a mystery or gory film, it’s an intellectual movie that delves into the psychological make-up of serial killings and the people involved in them.

The obsession with solving the mystery takes over one of the main characters, Robert Graysmith, and he pursues the case like a dog with a scent. This character is played by Jake Gyllenhaal who is a cartoonist in the movie. Mystery thrillers always need a character like this who does not give up and is in relentless pursuit of who committed the crimes. This is how they get absorbed in the movie by representing all their desires for truth and bringers of justice into an unassuming do-gooder.

David Fincher has such clean editing and perfect shots for this film. One particular scene with the shooting of Mageau and Ferrin in the beginning was shot from above. It was almost like God watching the events unfolding. A sense of helplessness is derived as the audience is taken farther away from the crime and can do nothing but watch them suffer. the other scene that featured the two victims shot in slow motion and up close also gave that particular a personal touch. A different kind of helplessness takes over the viewers. As if there is no escape from the manic killer.

The film has several dichotomies of a single emotion. There are always glimpses of hope that diminished by a single line. When the three police officers interviewed Arthur Leigh Allan, there were so many evidences stacked up against him. You can assume that he was the killer and that the mystery would be solved. But one line that put that spark of hope out was when their captain announced that his handwriting did not match the letters’. The build up towards this moment is so great that those few lines of dialogue seem anti-climactic. Where the film reaches its peak, there is always something that drags it back down.

Another kind of frustration experienced here is how Graysmith’s wife leaves him and takes the kids away. We see how this need to solve it possessed him and consequently, made him neglect his family. Questions of “is it worth it?” constantly come up especially at the very end where we find out that the mystery is still unsolved until now. It was the frustrating fact that no proper justice was served and no one paid the price.

Known for his downbeat endings, David Fincher ends the film with a written narration of what happened after. Saying that the police officers dies, the case is still open, and that none of the suspects were convicted for Zodiac’s crimes just makes you feel like everyone’s work on it had been in vain. The film does not exist to please the audience with feel-good endings but it stimulates them into thinking that in real life, villains can have their cake and eat it too.

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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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