Lee on “Zodiac”

“With a runtime of over two and a half hours, Zodiac super-charges every minute with a maximum of minutiae,” writes Village Voice critic Nathan Lee. “Dizzyingly dense, intricate in the extreme and relentlessly swift, it’s the most information-packed procedural since JFK, though far more restrained when it comes to theorizing.

“The screenplay, meticulously engineered by James Vanderbilt, has been adapted from a pair of books by Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), a cartoonist at the Chronicle who glommed on to the Zodiac case and eventually took it on as his life’s work. Everything has been checked against verifiable sources, then staged with the utmost fidelity and precision; note how Fincher resists dramatizing the events in Paul Stein‘s cab, sticking to a representation of his known route.

“The result is an orgy of empiricism, a monumental geek fest of fact-checking, speculation, deduction, code breaking, note taking, forensics, graphology, fingerprint analysis, warrant wrangling, witness testimony, phone calls, news reports. ‘I felt like I was stuck in a filing cabinet for three hours,’ complained one viewer. Exactly!

“Termite art par excellence, Zodiac burrows for the sake of burrowing, as fascinated by its own nooks and crannies as Inland Empire. It operates with the back-and-forth insistence of a scanner arm, gathering, filtering, digitizing, and storing an immense catalog of analog enigmas. It might have been titled A Scanner Darkly.”

  • actionman

    i cannot fucking wait until Friday night

  • christian

    is that a good thing?

    this is for people who can’t get enough of CSI and the endless crime shows on cable…

  • jeffmcm

    CSI is a show dedicated to one idea: the cops getting the bad guys thanks to Science. I don’t think Zodiac will be able to go that route.

  • christian

    no, CSI is about close-ups of dead bodies. period.

  • Balthazar

    Christy Lemire of the Associated Press is giving Zodiac 2.5 stars out of 4.

    She writes: It’s low-key, straightforward, a bit faded. No stylized tricks, nothing flashy about it. But in toning things down, Fincher also drags them out. “Zodiac” runs an astonishing two hours and 40 minutes, and it feels like it. The director has said there was no way to make the film any shorter — that to tell this story completely, it had to be this long — and he clearly went to great lengths to get the many complicated elements just right. But is he serious? “The Departed,” which just won best picture at the Academy Awards, was two and a half hours and even that felt too long. If you’re going to ask your audience to sit happily for that sort of duration, you’d better give them an absolute masterpiece of cinema. “Zodiac” certainly has its moments, but it’s no masterpiece.

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