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chloe sevigny

Review: Zodiac, Scoop and Reno 911!- Miami

By Cinema and Reviews

Zodiac posterIf, like David Fincher, you were grow­ing up in Northern California dur­ing the early 70’s you, too, might have become fas­cin­ated and obsessed by the mys­ter­i­ous publicity-troll seri­al killer known as Zodiac. Now Fincher has turned that fas­cin­a­tion in to a solidly con­struc­ted but over­long his­tory of the failed efforts to identi­fy Zodiac and bring him to justice called, with typ­ic­al ima­gin­a­tion, Zodiac.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith, car­toon­ist for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time of the first murders in 1969, whose obses­sion about the case led to a book identi­fy­ing the most likely sus­pect (and a failed marriage).

One of the prob­lems that law enforce­ment had in deal­ing with the Zodiac was his propensity for tak­ing cred­it for murders that wer­en’t his and the fact that his real murders occurred in three dif­fer­ent jur­is­dic­tions, mean­ing that there was little or no co-ordination and import­ant evid­ence was­n’t shared. It took Graysmith’s dec­ade long per­sever­ance to at least shine a light on a case that offi­cially still remains open.

There are good per­form­ances from many reli­able faces includ­ing Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Brian Cox. Chloe Sevigny is crim­in­ally under-used (as she often seems to be) as Graysmith’s wife (but that’s a fault with the true-life story rather than the film­makers). In fact, this is one of those true stor­ies you wish had been jazzed up a bit rather than treated with so much respect. The prob­lem here is that Zodiac does­n’t do a heck of a lot so there’s no way to ratchet the ten­sion up except with spooky blind alleys.

If you were a Zodiac-obsessed kid like Fincher, you’ll get a big kick out of the detailed recre­ations of the era. If you are a nor­mal cit­izen like myself, by the time the film goes in to Decade (and Hour) Three, you’ll won­der what all the fuss is about.

Scoop posterAltogether more suc­cess­ful serial-killer sleuths are on dis­play in Woody Allen’s new UK-based pro­duc­tion Scoop. Scarlet Johansson plays Sondra Pransky, journ­al­ism stu­dent on hol­i­day in London. At a magic show (Allen him­self is The Great Splendini) she is vis­ited by the ghost of gruff old Fleet Street hack Joe Strombel (Ian McShane) who gives her a tip: Eligible rich boy Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) is the infam­ous Tarot Card Killer and she has to reveal the truth and get the scoop of the decade.

With Splendini’s help Pransky goes under­cov­er but finds her­self fall­ing for Lyman/Jackman’s charms and drop­ping the scent. This is minor Allen (aren’t they all these days?) but not without charms and sev­er­al jokes made me laugh out loud (one of which I am steal­ing for myself). It seems to have been thrown togeth­er a little haphaz­ardly and a cast of English not­ables gets very little to do except stand around at garden parties – former Bond and Indiana Jones vil­lain Julian Glover gets only one line as Lyman’s father.

The beau­ti­ful Romola Garai (I Capture The Castle) plays best-friend Vivian and she will be here in September to play Cordelia to Ian McKellen’s Lear at the St James. Looking for­ward to it.

Reno 911! Miami posterFinally, in a quiet week, late night tv spin-off Reno 911!: Miami is about as funny as someone stand­ing on your corn (an image drawn dir­ectly from life, ladies and gentlemen).

Printed in the Capital Times, Wednesday 23 May, 2007.