ARCHIVE REVIEW: Zodiac

Zodiac
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Robert Graysmith (book)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and John Carroll Lynch

Unsolved murders haunt us.  As the detective played by Mark Ruffalo remarks at one point in Zodiac, there were 200 murders committed since a serial killer left his brutal mark on the zeitgeist.  Those murders were explained, though, and as a result they are boring to us.

There are several fictionalized versions of the story of The Zodiac Killer, because finding a narrative that rewards a viewer would be daunting and it would miss the point.  This is a story that is not about rewards.  There is obsession laced within every frame of it, driving all of the principal characters and not just the psychopath.  A need for justice, a need to definitively know lies buried beneath the daunting surface of this David Fincher masterwork.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Monster

Monster
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Written by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, and Annie Corley

You don’t have to say someone’s name to show who they are.  Some of the best biopics, most notably this one and Todd Hayne’s I’m Not There, never acknowledge the subject’s name until the very end.  On IMDB, Charlize Theron is cast simply as Aileen, not Aileen Wuornos.

Monster is proof of a lot of things, most notably that there really isn’t much to a name when you think about it.  Selby (Christina Ricci) simply calls her new lover Lee, an affectionate name in comparison to what most other people call her.

Street walker, hooker, prostitute- whatever you want to call her job, it defines her more heavily than anything in the sordid past that led her to it.  Monster starts out grabbing for your heartstrings, as Aileen narrates a look at her troubled childhood with a musing about being discovered like Marilyn Monroe.  In the enhanced colors of this dreamy flashback, we cut abruptly to her as an adult in the 80’s, sitting under a highway overpass as it pours rain.  In this movie, there are happy moments, and there is life.

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