Decided to combine this post into two movies where RDJ has more of a supporting role. Also, I really really like these movies. POST AWAY!!!
Zodiac directed by David Fincher 2007 Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr.
I remember this movie got a lot of flack when it came out for being slow and crazy-long, but as far as I know it’s got the kind of story which needs to be told in a crazy-long sort of way (unlike The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but that’s probably better saved for a Fincher-related post). ANYWAY: this movie has stuff I really freaking like, see: costume dramas with will dressed men! Huzzah for the well dressed men in costume dramas!
Essentially, we’ve got two sides to the story of Those Who are Looking for the Zodiac Killer: The police, as seen through Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards) and staff at the San Fransisco Chronicle Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) and Paul Avery (Downey Jr.). Of these four characters, the two who follow the story to its end are really Graysmith and, reluctantly, Toschi. Of the Zodiac Killer, the movie will go to the murder scenes, then cut back to reactions.
Most characters end up washing their hands of this matter and getting on with their lives, except for Graysmith. The pacing goes from something that is very tense and everyone is very concerned with the Zodiac killer. Probably the midpoint is when Toschi leaves the theater when he was watching Dirty Harry. “They’re already making movies about it.” Which hits well, although it makes the third act changes the movie from being about Zodiac to being about Graysmith’s obsession with Zodiac.
I really like this movie as a character study for the main characters, as much as it is a realistic unsolved murder mystery. I came off it really enjoying Ruffalo’s performance (but I love Mark Ruffalo, so there you go) and Gyllenhaal was very talented in this in a very creepy way. You see how their lives are affected by the murders, but you also have a contrast between them. Toschi is trying to get on with his life although he remains involved with the case, and he lets it interfere with his life a lot, but it’s more like a loose end. Graysmith meanwhile, cares about finding out who the Zodiac killer is, willing to sacrifice his personal life.
This movie has got props, but you might need to break it up over a few viewings. It’s the sort of story and pacing that deserves a long structure, although maybe it would have worked better as a mini-series. Just a thought.
Good Night, and Good Luck Directed by George Clooney. Starring: David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr, George Clooney.
Man. I really want George Clooney to direct another movie. I was actually thinking about that a few weeks ago, and I’m not really up on Clooney information, but is he ever going to direct again, or is this a one-time thing?
Edward R. Murrow (Strathairn) has decided to fight against Senator Joseph McCarthy during the time of the Red Scare. It’s a very tense, well photographed drama, which if you haven’t seen you need to see now. It’s absolutely excellent. David Strathairn looks and sounds remarkably like Murrow, and the cast as a whole provide really good performances.
I actually forgot that RDJ was in this movie, and I was really surprised when I saw it on his IMDb page. And it’s another supporting role, as one of the reporters who work at the CBS studio who has to get cut during the Red Scare.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I work at a library and I ran into a book that supported McCarthy’s efforts, saying that by fear mongering he saved us from communists who were working in the government at that time. The problem with that reasoning is, it doesn’t matter if he got any “bad guys”: What he did was immoral. The fact that someone can take the fear mongering, witch-hunt of Joseph McCarthy and say that what he did was right just means that a movie like Good Night, and Good Luck is necessary.