Maybe “Zodiac” is trying to show an alternative system in solving crime. There are always gonna be cold cases and the police cannot fully dedicate themselves to every unsolved crime. They’ll just find some seemingly altruistic nerd like Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) to ponder over dusty evidence. I was gonna call this transfer system perfect if it didn’t ruin families and if it didn’t end in a staring contest instead of an actual arrest and conviction.
The movie starts with a high angle wide shot of San Francisco in the Fourth of July while a croony male version “Easy To Be Hard,” a Broadway song about civil rights is playing, making the scene and the rest of the movie seem dangerous in a romantic way. We see the Transamerica Tower being built. “Zodiac” glides for a 160 minute movie about a serial killer, showing the passage of time with the same artistic hand used with depicting a man stuck in the past.
This is the best David Fincher movie I’ve seen so far. It doesn’t have the blatant dialogue about morality in “Se7en,” an element that can make a movie age like fish (but don’t mistake me, I like a lot of it). It doesn’t have the ‘shut up, Brad Pitt’ of “Fight Club,” although I like Brad Pitt everywhere else. “Zodiac” doesn’t declare itself as a great film like the other two, but watching this after two and a half or so years makes me feel like I found a hidden jewel.
Graysmith’s obsession is still seductive because it attempts to shatter impartiality, especially that of police work. He tries to get into police stations and detective’s homes and yes, that’s annoying. But the typical police officer isn’t sadistic enough to say no. In his last conversation with David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), he knows how to spin a tale and has done a lot of research on the suspect’s time line coinciding with the killings. Toschi tells him he can’t prove any of his speculations. He bravely replies that ‘Just because we can’t prove it doesn’t mean it’s not true.’
Lastly, why is John Carroll Lynch playing douche-y roles? He’s amazing here as Arthur Leigh Allen, and he’s serviceable as one of the guards in “Shutter Island.” I just miss the loveable husband from “Fargo.”
Isn’t Clarice Starling is such a nice girl? There’s something about way she smiles and jokes around and has good rapport with others. No wonder Hannibal Lecter has a thing for her, just like every other leering pervert who goes to school with her.
In the scene in the Your Self storage facility outside downtown Baltimore, she asks the manager with a nervous laughter to call her friends at the FBI if the door falls down. She’s cordial yet in control. I wouldn’t even joke about getting stuck in some skeevy guy’s storage room. And as a first time viewer like I was a few months ago, I kind of was expecting the door to close. But watching the way she talks about the worst case scenario, we should have known nothing is gonna happen and she would be fine. If your definition of ‘fine’ is uncovering Benjamin Raspel’s decapitated head.
That early scene, as well as most of the earlier scenes, have such different qualities from the Clarice Starling later on who looks like she’s on the brink of tears. Jodie Foster had to give unity to the character after all. She’s a character appealing enough that Hannibal wanted to know her. I wanted to see her deal with other situations, and I was a bit frustrated but then again it’s a relatively short text – 118 minutes – in a genre film, and they can only allow certain things in there. But then, there’s always gonna her friendliness and wide-eyed constant learning and her humility when she’s not directly dealing with the case. Good enough for me.
The movie has always been a movie in parts for me, always catching the ‘transsexuals are very passive’ scene, because they could only either be passive or serial killers. And all British guys know how to put condiments on a cadaver. And all redhead chicks are both strong yet vulnerable. And all blonde guys have manginas.
While we’re in the ‘gender and sexuality’ thread of the conversation, Clarice is all we have as a representation of the female and feminine in this movie. Catherine, although with a coarser vocabulary, isn’t really Clarice’s foil because she’s just as resourceful yet vulnerable. And Ardelia isn’t a fully developed character. The boys, however, are a different case. An LGBT character is a serial killer yet Clarice’s declaration on the passivity of transsexuals isn’t invalidated. I didn’t take an Angus Reed poll or anything, but a queer man can love women as much as another can hate them. Technically Bill already has foils, but if the film had characters presented as Clarice or Bill’s foils, they wouldn’t be as effective on their own.
I first saw it in its entirety at the Toronto Digital Film Festival, a ‘horror’ film that froze me instead of jolted me, despite of the cloudy quality of the digital film . I won a poster for answering the trivia question of how many Oscars it won. I haven’t opened the poster yet, I don’t know where to put it in my room, I don’t even know where it really is. Then there was the crispier AMC’s televised run Monday night, when Miggs can smell Clarice’s ‘scent’ and Hannibal imagining Crawford imagining ‘fondling’ Clarice, and Bill ‘having’ himself so hard.
I discovered new things in this awesomeness the second time around, that ‘good bag and cheap shoes’ sounds like a hell of a fey insult and I should use it someday. Someone should tell Clarice about that ugly ass coat too. That Clarice kinda looks like Scully. That Buffalo Bill is capable of love. That apparently Anthony Hopkins and the girl who plays Catherine reunited in a really terrible Chris Rock movie that I still wanna see.
That adds to what we already know about that galvanizing moment when Lecter beats the shit out of that guard. And the poetic sequence when Clarice really finds the killer. The little Western touches within the film. That if Jodie Foster wasn’t a lesbian, I’d prescribe it to her. That Clarice is getting better at her game the same way Bill is. That you can never listen to Tom Petty the same way again. That this movie is probably a metaphor about the 90’s paying for our collective sins in the 80’s but I haven’t fully figured that out yet. That this movie’s the only Best Picture winner that encapsulates ‘grunge.’ And like Liz Lemon told her gay cousin, never help someone move a couch into a van.
(Repeat viewing, again I didn’t blog at TIFF ’09)
One of my favourite scenes in “Mother” is the abandoned amusement park scene. There’s awesomeness in the closeups of Jin-tae’s boots as he willfully beats the shit out of the horny, gossipy teenage schoolboys . But what I’m here to talk about is when Jin-tae’s best friend’s Mother (Hye-ja Kim) interacts with the same boys. She lights a cigarette and plays good cop to Jin-tae’s bad cop. She asks where the murdered schoolgirl Moon Ah-jung’s cellphone is. The previously fragile mother now looks tougher and sharper than nails, easily she gets the answers she needs.
That’s one of the hurdles that the titular Mother has to go through to prove that her slow-developed son is not the murderer of a girl. She tears up, she bravely ventures to places like the victim’s funeral and a sleazy Karaoke bar, she lies through her teeth. She’s technically a supporting character in her son’s life, their view of each other both Freudian and furious. But we later realize that it’s all about maintaining her world order as much as it is about getting her son out of jail. Hye-ja Kim also fills this character’s highs and lows, giving the best female performances of the past year.
This is the second Joon-ho Bong film I’ve seen (the first one was “The Host”). He explores known terrain/archetypes like schoolgirl innocence, low functioning emasculated men and according to Rick Groen, incompetent government officials, but he twists them in “Mother.” I’m not an expert in South Korean history and culture – cellphone culture and interconnectedness and other Asia-na is assumed as a part of a depiction of the said culture. But this movie’s so character driven anyway that it doesn’t get pigeonholed as a ‘film as national metaphor.’
Almost every frame in this movie is beautiful. From the close-ups to the natural landscapes of a Korean city to the valley-like cemeteries and streets to its attention to water and rain to its willingness to explore darkness. Blue hues are neo-noir’s best friend.
Sure the movie’s a bit slow and even the shocking twists (they’re the best ones in about a decade) don’t give it the punch that “The Host” did, but “Mother” is becoming more enigmatic the more I think of it.
(Warning: post contains violent images, written content sexual innuendo and stuff like that.)
I first saw “Un Prophete” at TIFF. I didn’t start my blog sooner and I paid 12 more dollars to see the film again, bringing a total of paying 52 dollars to see the movie.
My love for the film is less than unconditional at this second screening. First of all, we have to consider the prison as a national metaphor. That said, Malik El-Djebena’s (Tahar Rahim) is a likeable character but not sympathetic. Instead of being rehabilitated, the prison turns him into a wiser, slightly more determined criminal. However, a typical prisoner becoming a non-criminal after a six-year term is highly unlikely, and that is a Hollywood thing to portray.
Then I also overlooked that the Corsican prisoners step on Malik and he must abide by the rules of the other prisoners and bribed jail guards to get what he wants. Despite the possible metaphor in the film, his actions are mostly motivated on a personal level. He avenges when someone wrongs him, and thankfully at the right time. Knowing when to strike is one of the unpolished skills that he has entering the prison, and as the years go, he begins to think strategically. There is a scene when he helps his Corsican ‘boss’ Cesar Luciani (Niels Aestrup) deal with the new Muslim inmates, his advice thus surprises Cesar. You sympathize with him when he’s down, when he’s getting himself back up, and even when he’s killing a few people.
Brad Brevet from RopeofSilicon wrote about Malik’s prison education. Interestingly enough, this is a story of a man who learns from his enemies, a theme relegated to the sidelines in other crime films. Cesar and the Corsicans inadvertently teaches Malik strategy and ruthlessness and their native dialect. Another prisoner, Reyeb, tells him to come out of prison a little smarter. Malik becomes part of the cycle by advising – instead of using a rousing speech – the Muslims who had shunned him to fight for their rights in the prison. All actions are tough to pull off.
All in all, a very cinematic and enjoyable film. Those two adjectives fit even if the film features a guy cutting up his own moth with a razor, another guy having blood erupting out of his jugular, and a third guy putting a spoon inside the first guy’s eyelid. And that French prison food is awesome.
Three hours before that I saw “Les Chansons D’Amour.” Ismael (Louis Garrel) is romantically pursued by a gay guy after his girlfriend (Ludivigne Sagnier) dies. I am proud that the gay one can sing the best in the movie, but I am very protective of gay characters. I like them flawed, but I do not like them fucked in the head. I do not wanna see them stalk straight people, I do not want to see them snivel, I do not want to see them get the straight guy that easily.
I do like Ismael’s nuanced world before tragedy happens. I also like how the film tackles the girlfiend’s death like a sledgehammer instead of a dramatic device. Deaths like this happen unexpectedly, and I feel that in the movie. Ismael does not deal with grief perfectly but the film does not paint him as a man whore or a sad little boy needing a shoulder to cry on.
Lastly, with the exception of Piaf and Josephine Baker, hearing French sung by these people in their twenties is as awkward as watching my mother get drunk.