Zodiac

Started by MacGuffin, January 20, 2005, 01:26:15 AM

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MacGuffin

213.net's Jason Coleman has provided very precise descriptions of the nine (9) additions on the 162-minute Zodiac Directors Cut DVD (due January 8th), including (a) a scene with Detectives Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) and Lee (Dermot Mulroney) speaking to a superior on a voice box about the details that make Arthur Leigh Allen a prime Zodiac suspect and (b) the famous black-screen sequence in which the passage of four years -- from the early to mid '70s -- is conveyed with a sequence of songs and news stories from the period. The Paramount executive(s) who forced this sequence to be removed from the theatrical version should be brought up on charges.


http://www.the213.net/php/article.php?id=796
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

Quote from: MacGuffin on October 19, 2007, 08:52:18 PM
Fincher showing 'Zodiac' director's cut
Source: Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK -- Eight months after its theatrical release, David Fincher will present the director's cut of his thriller "Zodiac" at an event hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Fincher will make a rare appearance to discuss his work Nov. 19 at the Walter Reade Theater on New York. Although he's known for shooting an extensive amount of footage, the new cut of his film about the infamous Zodiac serial killer case runs only seven minutes longer than the 158-minute original.

FSLC associate director of programming Kent Jones will interview Fincher about his directing career onstage following the screening.

Fincher Kills at Special Zodiac Screening
Source: Vadim Rizov; The Reeler

A sold-out Walter Reade Theater audience greeted Monday night's screening of the director's cut of Zodiac -- seven minutes longer, with an eager, adulatory crowd for once. The film's commercial failure (it grossed "more than $75 million worldwide," the press release noted with inadvertent self-parody) doesn't seem to have dampened the well-deserved ardor for David Fincher's magnum opus; for my money, it's one of the finest films of the decade. Host and chief interrogator Kent Jones wasn't the only one confessing to having seen the movie five times or more; one man prefaced his question with such ecstatic praise that Fincher interrupted him before he could even get to the question: "Thank God for you, sir."

Then again, if everyone in America had cottoned to Zodiac this much, it wouldn't be the same stubborn, obsessive film -- a long, minutely-detailed chronicle of the years-long hunt for the Zodiac Killer, from its opening murder to the investigations, concurrent and overlapping, of San Francisco Chronicle crime journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), homicide detective David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and final true believer Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), whose diligent investigation blossomed into two separate books accusing Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch) of being the never-caught serial murderer. Graysmith's obsessiveness, conveniently for film writers, mirrors Fincher's own; this is one staggeringly detailed work, from every minute piece of evidence sifted to the note-perfect 1970s period drama.

For Fincher, the parallel fascination dates to childhood. He recalled growing up in San Francisco during the killings, when Zodiac threatened to kill schoolbuses full of children. He was, he said, "the kid on the bus, my dad going 'See you later.' And I was going, 'You work from home, couldn't you give us a ride?' People think of San Francisco as being the Summer of Love and hippies and flowers, and, you know -- that was the Haight. That was part of San Francisco, but the majority of San Francisco was cosmopolitan but pretty conservative. It was such a big deal for so long -- it was almost two years that the guy was in the paper every day, and then all of a sudden it just disappeared, and I remember thinking 'What happened with that?' When I got the script, I kind of thought I didn't want to make a movie about it; I didn't want to make a movie that exploited him. I wanted to make the movie about it that turned over every rock. The Chronicle was in a neck-and-neck tie with the Examiner and catapulted to the forefront because Zodiac chose to communicate through the Chronicle. So a lot of the landscape of San Francisco changed because of Zodiac."

Writing the screenplay for the nearly three-hour work was, predictably, a problem: "[James Vanderbilt]'s first draft I was sent was structurally different," Fincher said. "It wasn't as long -- you have me to blame -- and it was more of a movie. It was more of a straight line, there weren't as many digressions. It wasn't quite as -- one critic said it was like being locked in a filing cabinet. We had two books to cull from: 'We want this to be in the movie, we want this to be in the movie, we want this.' And then it was just a year-and-a-half of trying to figure it out how to get it all in under five hours."

The cut's additions are barely visible to the casual viewer, if such a creature was in attendance. One sound montage and a scene of Toschi and his colleagues presenting the case for an arrest warrant were the major additions highlighted by Fincher. "When we got the version we were happy with, we did one more screening," he explained. "We hijacked people from malls and gave them the power of life and death, and made them Siskel and Ebert." Those two scenes were the most contentious in testing; for DVD, Fincher wanted to restore the film's shape to that of "the final screening before we lopped the ears off."

The soft-spoken Fincher bore little resemblance to the terror whispered about in the press -- where was the man who instills fear in actors and crew members alike? Only once all night did his voice rise above a murmur. A question about how he navigated the transition from music videos to films brought him to actors, who, he says, "give you an enormous gift and an enormous responsibility." He paused, and his voice went up a notch. "Do you know the best way to get an actor to stop fucking around? Stop giving them direction. Say 'Just do another one.' Three takes of that, they're done. 'What do you want me to do?' 'I want you to come through the elevator and turn and say the line like this." Suddenly you could see the perfectionist's killer instinct that led many smart-ass critics to say Zodiac feels like a movie not just about a serial killer, but that feels like it was made by one as well.
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

Director's Cut DVD review:

QuoteFrom the inspired Amaray packaging, which re-creates the killer's letter to The Chronicle, the DVD immerses the viewer into a world that actually existed, comparing the exhaustive dead-end investigation with the filmmaker's exhaustive, detail-sensitive recreation of that world.

Fincher's commentary is full of anecdotes and tech speak, typical fare for his fans. But what distinguishes this track from his others is the near-obsessive enthusiasm in his voice when discussing the painstaking process of recreating the crime scenes, or how he set out to make the best – and last – serial killer movie. Great stuff here that carries throughout the long running time.

The cast and crew commentary, with special guest star James L.A. Confidential Ellroy chiming in, is hit and miss. Screenwriter Vanderbilt is the dominant presence and his radio DJ aplomb wares thin. But he does provide some observations that do not overlap with those found in the behind-the-scenes featurette.

And speaking of behind-the-scenes, Zodiac Deciphered delivers in less than an hour a filmmaking retrospective simple in its execution, but epically insightful in the creative and mental labors necessary to service not only the sprawling story, but also the attention to authenticity needed for the film to succeed. Deciphered's thesis is arguably that Fincher set out to solve the case with his movie, as various production staff talking heads look into the camera and share their experiences with the director, which boil down to him being "a specific artist" to his peers, but almost obsessive/crazy to non-initiates. Fincher's anal process is watercooler fodder for movie fans and industry insiders, and we see this on display courtesy of actual on-set footage showing Fincher mounting a car's chassis to a dolly to get the desired shot because it was smoother than the traditional camera mount. We see Fincher insist on 36 takes of a book dropping into a car's passenger seat. For an insert. Through the on-camera accounts of Producer Brad Fischer, Writer Vanderbilt and the real Robert Greysmith, we are allowed insight into the development process, and an unexpected access to a movie that sets out to find a killer first and deliver box office at a distant second.

From re-creating era-specific newspapers (page by page) to building a street corner on a backlot, attention must be paid to the rare and exceptional filmmaking that went into Zodiac, which is only missing an on-camera sound bite from Fincher defending or supporting his auteur approach. Must watch: Greysmith's account at the 38-minute mark of Fincher at the Lake Berryessa crime scene, telling the story of how Fincher realized that the then-case officer had lead crew and advisors not to the exact scene of the crime, simply by walking around, fingering the soil, and inspecting the lay of the land all his own. This anecdote is what best summarizes Fincher as a director, and what solidifies Zodiac as Hollywood's first big-budget, feature-length "investigative report".

The Visual Effects of Zodiac and Previsualizations are self-explanatory and provide brief-but-technical insight into visual effects; This is the Zodiac Speaking is the best HBO never made, providing a factual account of the murder investigation as engaging as the film itself. And the featurette on Arthur Leigh Allen, the suspect the film implicates without a doubt, is chilling in that guy-driving-a-windowless-van sorta way.

Thankfully, these extra features are EPK-free. Only things missing are theatrical trailers and TV spots.

http://dvd.ign.com/articles/843/843301p1.html
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

New Oscar hopes for 'Zodiac'
The March film is on many Top 10 lists, so an ad campaign now hopes to raise its Oscar star.
Source: Los Angeles Times

The serial killer at the center of "Zodiac" was always just beyond the grasp of the police and journalists: tantalizingly close, yet ultimately unreachable. The film's Oscar chances have looked just as unpromising, but now Paramount Pictures is staging a last-ditch Academy Award campaign, hopeful a critical "Zodiac" groundswell can lead to some surprise nominations.

Paramount's new "Zodiac" for-your-consideration advertisements in Friday's Variety and next Monday's Los Angeles Times arrive as David Fincher's movie keeps appearing on film critics' Top 10 lists.

According to one online survey of more than 400 reviewers' favorite films (criticstop10.com), only two other 2007 movies -- "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will be Blood" -- have turned up more frequently than "Zodiac." Showing up on 143 best-of-the-year lists, "Zodiac" has claimed 19 No. 1 spots.

"Suddenly, everybody is waking up to the fact that this is a good movie," said Mike Medavoy, one of the film's producers. Fellow producer Brad Fischer said Paramount may have underestimated the film's critical support. "I don't think they expected 143 critics to put it on their Top 10 lists." Paramount is hoping that with no clear best picture favorite, "Zodiac," which grossed a modest $33.1 million in domestic release, might draw sufficient attention for best picture, director, cinematography and screenplay.

It's an uphill fight. "Zodiac" largely has been blanked in awards announced over the last several weeks. It did not receive any Golden Globe nominations, and some of "Zodiac's" honors have come from uninfluential organizations: a nomination for star Jake Gyllenhaal from the Teen Choice Awards and a selection for David Shire's score from the World Soundtrack Awards.

On Thursday, however, USC's prestigious Scripter Award nominees included James Vanderbilt's "Zodiac" screenplay. The other Scripter nominees were the writers of "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," "Atonement" and "Into the Wild."

Paramount's biggest problem is time: Ballots for the 80th Academy Awards are due at 5 p.m. on Jan. 12. And since "Zodiac" opened in early March, the film may not be prominent in many Oscar voters' minds. (Fincher's director's cut "Zodiac" DVD arrives Tuesday, however.)

But Medavoy, who formerly ran Orion Pictures, knows that movies that premiere as early as February can still be remembered come Oscar time: Orion's "Silence of the Lambs" opened on Valentine's Day and still won five Academy Awards. "And that surprised everybody," Medavoy said.
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

David Fincher Didn't Want To Make 'Another Serial-Killer Movie' ... Until 'Zodiac' Came Along
'All of a sudden you only see scripts about deranged maniacs,' director says of post-'Seven' career in part one of two-part interview.
Source: MTV

It was arguably the best-reviewed film of 2007 and yet, almost from the start, "Zodiac" felt like an underappreciated classic. Chalk it up to unrealistic expectations (a serial-killer flick from the director of "Seven" that didn't titillate so much as hypnotize) and a strange release date (March, where little Oscar bait traditionally swims), but "Zodiac" never found a huge audience.

Now, thanks to appearing on a bevy of year-end top 10 lists and a new extras-laden DVD, "Zodiac," the mesmerizing tale of obsessed cops (Mark Ruffalo) and newspaper men (Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.) on the trail of the infamous Bay Area killer, is getting a second shot with audiences.

The movie's notoriously press-shy director, David Fincher, spoke with MTV News at length about his own obsession with making the film, how "Seven" was about more than decomposing bodies and why he's sick of his reputation as a director who puts his actors through endless takes.

MTV: Perhaps the best compliment I can give you is that I've seen "Zodiac" four or five times now, and it's holding up with every viewing.

David Fincher: Jesus. I don't wish that on anybody.

MTV: Let's go back to the genesis of the film. Did your onetime involvement in a "Black Dahlia" film feed into "Zodiac" at all?

Fincher: Yeah. When it became apparent that I wasn't going to be involved in "Black Dahlia," I didn't go, "All right, find me another obsession tale." I wasn't looking to make another serial-killer movie. But when I read "Zodiac," I just thought I'd hate to see this and not have been involved.

MTV: Why the reluctance to do another serial-killer movie?

Fincher: So much of that sh-- kind of rains in on your transom after you make a movie that makes some money. So those are the only scripts you get. After having convinced people that I was the right guy for "Seven," all of a sudden you only see scripts about deranged maniacs.

MTV: And now you're probably getting a ton of serial-killer scripts again, just as they were petering out.

Fincher: Yeah. Like an idiot. [He laughs.] When I was working on "The Black Dahlia," I never really felt like it was a serial-killer movie. It was an obsession tale to me. Maybe that's just the department of rationalizations. When "Zodiac" was sent to me, I said, "All right, I'll take a look." Growing up in [the Bay Area's] Marin [County] in this time, there were a lot of questions that had never been answered for me, like, "Yeah, whatever happened to [the Zodiac case]? How did that end up?" It disappeared off the front page, and then it was off page four, and then it was in the metro section, and then it was gone. There was no real sense of, "Did they ever get close?" I opened [the script] going, "Uh-oh, I don't know." And then halfway in, I was like, "This is pretty interesting."

MTV: It's as talky and information-heavy a film as I can recall in the last year. Did you see that aspect as a challenge?

Fincher: The way characters talk and how fleshed out they are are usually the reasons you say yes to a movie. The action set-pieces are the stuff you kind of feel obligated to do in order to give them something to cut into their trailer. "Seven" for me wasn't about decomposing bodies and jolts and scares. I liked the world and what they were talking about. I don't normally choose things by the whiz-bangs. As much as people thought "Panic Room" was a chance to fly a camera around and show off, that was an extension of our philosophy about how the story should be told and not like, "I'd really like to rent this piece of equipment." When somebody says, "You don't want to make this movie — it all takes place in one house," those are fighting words.

MTV: Of course, the interesting thing about "Zodiac," this serial-killer film, is it defies so many of the clichés that go along with the genre.

Fincher: And that was interesting to me. Not just from the standpoint of luring people into theaters under false pretenses. That's just icing. [He laughs.] It was a different take on that. It was the geopolitics and the socioeconomic landscape of that place and that time and how it was altered — it was not a huge body count. Five people died. It wasn't such a big deal, but it was such a big deal, and that was interesting to me. It was the dawn of the serial killer.

MTV: Is the case out of your system?

Fincher: I'm CC'ed on everything. Every time there's a new suspect of interest, I get the links. I don't hold out a lot of hope. One of the things the movie is talking about is, what is closure? There was a time that I wanted to do a television show where I wanted to take famous criminal cases and take 16 or 25 episodes to explore it over time and from all these different views. Before "Capote," one of the aspects of it was to do the "In Cold Blood" case. What did the people in Kansas think of Truman Capote? And that is part of the fabric of that tragedy, that moment. It's part of the ripple effect. Sharon Tate's family goes to San Quentin [State Prison] every 10 years for the parole hearings [of the Manson Family killers], and you go, "Wow, this many years afterwards, what is that like?"

MTV: We tend to only dip into these stories at their apex.

Fincher: "Zodiac" was the perfect example. We were interested in it until it got too boring. People were outraged that this guy hadn't been brought to justice until they drafted Joe Montana and nobody in San Francisco gave a sh-- anymore.

MTV: You are infamous for the number of takes you subject your actors to. That reputation must feel a little old.

Fincher: It's like, who gives a sh--? It's not like it costs you an extra three bucks to see the movie. I don't know why anybody cares.

MTV: Do your actors by and large go with it?

Fincher: Most of the time I haven't had issues with it. The whole crybaby thing of, "Are people working too hard?" I don't know.

MTV: What annoys you on set?

Fincher: I don't want to see people making off with the group's time. My whole thing has always been, if you're talking about how we can make this thing that we're doing better, I'm all ears. If you're talking about how you want to be perceived as a contributor, that's between you and your parents. I try to give actors a lot of opportunities to contribute. The first three or four takes, do what's in your gut, and then let's start honing it in. You can feel when a scene is constructed out of close-ups. And people feel it whether they know what I'm talking about or not. When you see "Animal House" and this f---ing amazing cast moving in these amazing masters with the timing as perfect as it is, it's just great. Everybody is firing on all cylinders. You shouldn't have to cut around people based on their ability. Movies should be cut for what the story needs, not because of what the actor needs. Everybody serves the story.
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol


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MacGuffin

Building Suspense Along the Trail of an Invisible Man
By MANOHLA DARGIS; New York Times

YOU don't ride with the devil in "Zodiac," that rare American movie that doesn't turn murder into kicks. With cool intelligence, David Fincher's masterly opus tracks the years-long efforts by several detectives and newspapermen, including Robert Graysmith (who wrote the book on which the movie is based), to find the killer — the self-anointed Zodiac — who committed a string of murders in Northern California starting in the late 1960s and perhaps continuing into the early 1970s. For these men the search is not only about seeking knowledge but also seeking justice. It is consciousness and conscience both. 

The Carpetbagger Blog "Zodiac" is about thinking, it's about working things through intellectually, hazarding guesses, trying to solve puzzles (the killer largely communicates through ciphers) and about the dawning of awareness, which encapsulates the experience of watching it. The movie solicits your contemplation rather than your excitation, which helps put some emotional distance between you and the murderer. You don't exult in the Zodiac's power, mystery or clever killing ways. You don't take awful pleasure in his company. The murders are grotesque; they are performed (of course) without being turned into performances. You are made a witness to the agonies of the victims instead of becoming the killer's accomplice.

Because the murders occur within the first half-hour of the original 158-minute running time (the director's cut runs about four minutes longer), they don't serve the usual narrative functions. This front-loading creates an air of sustained dread, but the murders are not exploited to punch up the action. Although they're anxious-making (one comes out of nowhere), the overriding suspense is largely created by the subsequent investigations. Neither do they aid the climax. There is no head in a box waiting like a present (surprise!) at the finish, as in Mr. Fincher's "Seven." The murders happen — during three separate assaults — and then for the remainder of the story a group of men go about the work of trying to find the killer.

The detectives and reporters in "Zodiac" sift through the clues, pound the pavement and hunker down in cars, offices, homes and bars. Mostly, though, they talk and they talk — to one another, to survivors, witnesses, informants and suspects. (In "Zodiac" talk is action.) Mr. Fincher is a virtuoso, but despite some stylized passages this movie looks almost austere compared with his earlier work. It isn't that he's become a minimalist (far from it); rather, the beautiful surfaces of his movies (and they are all beautiful) and the stylized flourishes do not have to fight the inanity or contradictory aims of the stories. Here the plot is an epistemological inquiry, as is the movie's meticulous, obsessive form.

One unsettling scene involves four men just talking in a room. Two are San Francisco detectives, Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), and the third is a sergeant, Jack Mulanax (Elias Koteas), from another city where the killer has struck. They have arranged to meet a suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch), at his workplace, an oil refinery some 30 miles southwest of San Francisco. The scene takes place almost precisely halfway into the movie and opens with a sweeping pan across an industrial vista crowded with belching smokestacks and oil tanks. It then cuts to the detectives filing through a hall in the refinery and past a mounted wall sign that warns, "Be Careful Safety First."

The detectives, dressed in muted shades, settle into the room, which has both brick and painted walls. The bricks are taupe, and the painted walls are the pale, institutional green familiar to any American who attended public school in the 1960s and 1970s. A smattering of bright, almost luminescent yellow chairs and a vividly red Coca-Cola machine daub the room with color like beacons. The movie cuts to an adjacent hall in which two other men are walking, one with a lumbering gait that seems to keep time with the low rhythmic pounding first heard (and almost unnoticed) when the detectives entered. This is Allen, who, after calmly settling into a chair, will make a chilling case for his character's guilt.

The three detectives sit in a semicircle — with Armstrong behind a table — facing Allen. Initially the scene unfolds straightforwardly with a series of over-the-shoulder shots and countershots. (In these shots, as the name implies, the camera seems to peer over the shoulder of a character whose body is only partially visible.) This shot-countershot pattern is interrupted only when Allen crosses his legs, a gesture followed by a cut to Mulanax looking at one of Allen's feet, which now looms in the lower center of the frame. (The killer wears similar boots.) The over-the-shoulder shot-countershot sequence resumes until Allen volunteers that he was carrying bloody knives in his car the same weekend as one of the assaults.

Allen's startling admission leads to a shot of Mulanax looking straight into the camera in close-up. This shot is soon followed by similarly framed head-and-shoulder close-ups, first of Armstrong and then of Toschi, each staring directly into the camera. With these near-identical, shared looks, the three finally seem to see — perceptually, intellectually — the stranger before them, the story's invisible man. In this moment sight becomes knowledge, however tenuously grasped. Not long after, referencing one of Zodiac's ciphers, Toschi tells Allen, "Man is the most dangerous animal of all." Allen responds, "That's the whole point of the story." It is also the point of this scene, which in under six minutes lays out the movie in miniature.

"Zodiac" is about an investigation and is itself an investigation. As is always the case with Mr. Fincher's movies, it is also about extreme human behavior and an example of the same. Extremes possess the murderer and those who chase him, men whose desire to solve the killings burns away large swaths of their worlds. "I need to know," Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) tells his wife, whom he eventually drives away with his compulsive pursuit. That need is ultimately frustrated — the Zodiac killer remains uncaught and officially unnamed — which gives the movie a strange pathos. In the end there is no confession of guilt or triumphantly condemned prisoner, no trial or justice. All that remains is the search, and the filmmaking.
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." - Andy Warhol


Skeleton FilmWorks

tpfkabi

i just got around to getting the DC cut.

one bit that seemed to be missing - did the theatrical cut not have Avery showing his gun when he meets the informant?

this crossed my mind while watching, and then later when i watched the trailer i noticed this is in there, so maybe i've just "grafted" it in subconsciously.

another odd thing - after buying this, i decided to look at wiki just to see what was there and i was very shocked to see that there was something from just last week where a guy is claiming his father is Zodiac and that he found a hood hidden inside a PA system his father owned.
I am Torgo. I take care of the place while the Master is away.

Bleep

Obviously Fincher's film is one of last best American films made before the end of Hollywood. How apt that Zodiac is nostalgic for the past (e.g., the opening Paramount tag). Also, 2007 was the year of massively wondrous facility with widescreen. The use of the widescreen format, in its geometry (composition; mobility; editing), is expert in this film, in No County for Old Men (2007), and in TWWB (2007). These films determine that 2007 was one of the last finest years in Hollywood history. And obviously this comment will only be a preface of an extended exploration of the theme. I could always go on.

Best wishes.