Zodiac

Zodiac ★★★★½

I bought Zodiac on bluray finally after all these years, tempted by a 2disc edition with copious extras and a cover made to look like the titular killer's envelope mailed into the newspaper full of puzzles. Revisiting for the first time in five years, the immensity of the film struck me even harder than before - it's not just a great procedural about a real life enigma that still haunts the Bay area and the country at large, but a grand portrait of the detective mythos in film itself. This is David Fincher returning after a half-decade absence to comment on his own filmography and reach deep into the past to produce something built for the future. Despite being built on the razor edge of 2000s-era digital filmmaking, it feels utterly timeless by now, pioneering many techniques we now take for granted, showing how CGI could be seamlessly employed to enhance storytelling rather than just for conjuring giant robots, dinosaurs, and explosions. Despite taking place over a handful of decades with an episodic narrative focusing on three protagonists, it feels as cohesive and tightly packaged as anything Fincher made before or after. Despite being about a still-unsolved mystery and drifting from the unsettling murders across the landscape of California as the years and its hefty runtime wear on, it still feels urgent and gut-wrenching scary right up to the end. It's a near-masterpiece and I'm thinking, maybe one of Fincher's top 3 movies. I might have to make a list soon.

Also, opening and slam-bang closing with Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" is one of the truly genius needle-drops of our time. I don't know if it rivals the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" at the end of Fight Club, but it's up there.

PS I'm still in the process of moving and don't have a ton of time, so I'm dropping my review from my earliest days on LB below, because honestly everything I said there still applies. I just bumped it up half a star because I was that much more impressed.

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Ten years later, I'm seeing this movie in a much better light. Instead of a procedural murder mystery, as one might expect, it's a film about social mania. The Zodiac's real crime was to spread a kind of insanity through the culture, a panic that settled into the minds of everyone for a while. He left the door wide open, so that every crime in the city going forward might be scrutinized, questioned, "was it the Zodiac?" He used the media and our own credulity to infect thousands more people than he could ever physically hurt.

Seeing it in this new way, I realized that my initial disappointment - we never obviously find who the killer is - was misplaced. It's always nice seeing a piece of art in an expanded way.

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