Friday, March 09, 2007

ZODIAC: LET'S MULL IT OVER.


I went into this movie biased. Not because Jake is in it, mind you, but because I did my high school term paper on Charles Manson and have ever since held a strange fascination for serial killers/mass murders who terrorized California in the late 1960's. No. For real. I'll start off by saying that I walked out of the theater in mild panic wondering how the hell I was going to do a snarky review of this film. I actually saw it for the first time several days ago and have been mulling it over ever since (and then got a second viewing in last night). I came to the conclusion that what I had to say wasn't all that amusing, so...serious post! It's unlikely to happen again, so revel in it.

I know a lot of you have months to wait before you see this. I can tell you right off that the information intake is overwhelming, both visually and aurally, so if you can wait, I'd strongly suggest that you not download this somewhere. I honestly believe the experience will be infinitely better on a big screen with surround-sound (and even at that, it's easy to miss things when there is so much to absorb). Also, out of respect for those outside the U.S., I'll keep this as spoiler-free as possible, although I'm hoping by now the general story is common knowledge, and thus I won't be giving away anything major (but if you're deadset against knowing any of the details, stop reading after the spoiler warning). For a more detailed discussion of Zodiac, I'd suggest going to the Jake Watch Forum.

I thought I'd start by telling you how to prepare yourself as a Jake fan for the experience, because I have a feeling some of you may like a heads up on what you're walking into.

First of all, I don't think you can see this movie for Jake. If he is the only reason you're seeing the film, I'd be surprised if you weren't mildly disappointed. Jake's character, Robert Graysmith, is a nerd. He's fidgety, he awkwardly "looms" over people's desks, he wears lots of clothes at all times, and, most importantly, his only apparent interest in the movie is the serial killer he is obsessed with. I don't know where "Jake Gyllenhaal" went while filming this, but he is nowhere to be found in this movie.

You may think that's painfully obvious, but I think a lot of us (myself included) have come to associate Jake the Person with certain traits in the characters he plays. I mean, come on. Am I wrong to say that Jack Twist + Donnie Darko = someone's idea of Jake Gyllenhaal? I say this because we see similarities in these characters and Jake himself and therefore come to expect certain things in Jake's performances which aren't seen in Zodiac. There is no trademark ear-to-ear grin, no shirtless scenes, no cocky self-confidence, and certainly not enough tongue action for anyone sitting in the audience and say, "yeah, that's when I drool over Jake Gyllenhaal...when I see that." There isn't much "that" in this movie. I think it is an enormous testament to Jake's acting abilities that he was so incredibly convincing in this role, but I'm envisioning lots of disappointed, "why couldn't there have been a sex scene?!" comments from fans emerging from the theater (oh, you know someone will say it...in fact I'm pretty sure someone already did).

Secondly, Jake is the headliner, but his on-screen time-ratio is strictly proportional to his character's importance in the unfolding of the story. That is to say, he's in it a lot, but he's also not in it a lot. Which brings us to...

Thirdly, be prepared for lots of Mark Ruffalo. In my initial assessment, I'd say he has as much screen-time as Jake. So I would suggest that anything he has said off-camera about working with David Fincher, and how that did or did not coincide with what Jake has said about working with David Fincher, should be taken out of the equation. I think if you're concentrating only on when Jake will be on screen next, you'll find the movie long and ultimately unrewarding.

But go in open-minded, and this is a textbook example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

That out of the way, the film itself was incredible. I've frequently said that I would be interested in this movie if Jake had not been in it and I stand by that (mainly on account of sentence #2 at the top there...I told you I wasn't kidding). I see a lot of movies and have overly-developed opinions on what I do or do not like in a film. For one, I don't mind being asked to think as long as the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, and I found Zodiac to be balanced perfectly for my tastes. This was serious subject matter, yes, but the film wasn't pretentious, it wasn't preachy, it wasn't overly analytical in the psychology of the matter (perhaps surprisingly because of the tagline, "There's more than one way to lose your life to a serial killer"), and it certainly wasn't dragged down by a lack of action. I never once wondered when it was going to be over, and in fact was a little surprised that it ended when it did. Having read the book, I already knew the plot, but still found myself held in suspense.

There is violence (unavoidable considering the subject matter) but the lack of gratuitous gore is admirable considering the gruesomeness of the murders themselves. The soundtrack is great. There were a few genuinely scary scenes, but I'd say the general vibe was much more towards "creepy" than "frightening." There is a lot of background noise in certain scenes, resulting in conversations that you might miss a word of two of. Surprisingly, though, this recurring quirk isn't annoying, but only makes everything seem that much more real. Because it almost is real. It's as close to the real thing as we're ever going to get.

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS TO FOLLOW***


So what was this movie? It was a damned convincing look at how the Zodiac murders can be linked to one man who, despite his gory track record, wasn't much of a criminal mastermind. In fact, it's amazing he wasn't caught. The movie leaves open the possibility (however remote) that the suspect in mind is not the killer, but it's doubtful anyone leaving the theater will think otherwise. But in the end, the result of "solving" the Zodiac case is inconsequential compared to the method it took to get there. Any way you look at it, Zodiac won. Not only did he quite literally get away with murder, he drug down several highly intelligent individuals, invading their lives to the point of obsession and destruction. The question remains whether or not the Zodiac knew that he had such far-reaching influence. Taunting the police (and the public) was obviously a favorite pastime, but it's hard to say if he did it purely for his own personal glory, or if he was aware of the level of madness he was instilling in those working to catch him.

One of the most chilling scenes is when the suspect is interviewed at his workplace and the clues fall so perfectly into place that it's almost painful to sit there knowing he will get away. By the time he does inevitably get off the hook, you are just as frustrated as David Toschi (played by Mark Ruffalo) to have hit a wall. Similarly, when Graysmith (some dude named Jake) starts putting the pieces together while researching his book, his enthusiasm is infectious.

Obviously a few liberties had to be taken when translating Graysmith's book onto the big screen. In one way, I found the movie more affecting since I was able to literally watch the key figures evolve as the Zodiac case progressed. I also found that some of the added personal details about the characters' lives made their descent into obsession all the more fascinating. For obvious reasons, many details were left out...but it didn't matter. The bulk of the story is there, displaying some strange harmony between the presentation, so convincing it's like looking back in time, and the actual drama, so outrageous it's difficult to believe these events ever happened. It's an extraordinary story portrayed in an extraordinary way.

Having asked people who had read the book beforehand against those who hadn't, I found that no one was complaining of difficulty in following the storyline. The length of the movie inevitably led to a couple of awkward edits (the two that come to mind are the scene in which the man finds the lake victims - my initial thought was that he was the Zodiac killer showing uncharacteristic remorse, although I quickly realized my mistake - and the scene in which Paul Avery - Robert Downey, Jr. - goes to Riverside to meet an informant, since the meeting itself is not shown on screen, but only the before and after).

The murder victims may at first seemed downplayed, but I don't think there's any question that the film is about the Zodiac's other victims. There is nothing about the aftermath of the killings that isn't disturbing, and you are left with a sense of confusion as to how anyone could create such a destructive ripple effect, especially someone so seemingly inadequate to pull off the task.

One thing I noticed was the repeated mention of the Zodiac killer being obsessed with movies, down to the point of vocalizing his desire to have one made about him. It was a detail I remembered from the book but didn't think would be included in the screen version for obvious reasons. As it turned out, it posed the movie's most interesting question: Are we still being played by the killer? The Zodiac sent his first letter to The San Francisco Chronicle decades ago, and yet here he is back again, still being discussed, and not just by police and newspaper reporters. His crimes and his communications have entered into the cultural consciousness to such a degree that here I sit, writing about them on a fanblog for an actor who wasn't even born at the time. In some bizarre, twisted way, this movie has become the final chapter for the Zodiac killer, because he finally got the film (and subsequent cultural longevity) that he always wanted.

So PG officially gives it two very enthusiastic thumbs up, for the entertainment value, for the stimulating subject matter, and for inspiring a very atypical Jake Watch post. Oh, and don't worry. There are plenty of close-ups and the digital clarity is amazing. ;)

P.S. In the competition for the Award for Most Movies Made with Jake Gyllenhaal, John Carroll Lynch is in it to win.

This movie review is dedicated to Nick, who saw this with me and, despite having only met me once before, marched proudly into the theater wearing an "I'm stalking Jake!" button. Way to go, Nick!! But before that winds up on the cover People Magazine, I can assure you he doesn't belong to me. ;) Oh, and also to my parents for buying my ticket for the second viewing. :D

Picture courtesy of my press badge.

63 comments:

nice anonymous said...

Bravo, Prophecy Girl. A beautifully written & well-thought-out review.

I've just seen "Zodiac" once, at a Monday noon matinee on a snowy day when everyone sensible stayed off the roads, so there were just six of us in the theatre. I felt an incredible sense of relief about 10 minutes into the movie -- I sat back deep in my sweat & said to myself, "Oh, thank goodness. It's another good one. This is going to be really, really good."

It's a stellar addition to Jake's body of work, even if I fear for its immediate box office prospects. It's another one of those films whose reputation will just grow over time, don't you think?

nice anonymous said...

"sweat" above should read "seat"

(but yes, Fincher did make me sweat a little during some of the scenes)

smurfette said...

He's fidgety, he awkwardly "looms" over people's desks, he wears lots of clothes at all times

There is no trademark ear-to-ear grin, no shirtless scenes, no cocky self-confidence, and certainly not enough tongue action


what do you mean no snark? =)

in all seriousness, PG, you are an amazing writer, snark or not, and this was such a great analysis of the movie. i rarely agree so completely to any movie reviews but i loved yours. i particularly loved what you said about there being no jake in the graysmith role, because i’ve heard so many people try to claim that this role was just “jake being jake” when in fact they need to realize it was really “jake being graysmith” (just ask graysmith himself!). it’s a very restrained role, and graysmith pretty much disappears for the first 3rd of the movie when the focus is (rightly so) on toschi and avery. just because jake was playing an obsessive geek doesn’t at all mean he’s playing a combination of holden and hal/sam. he’s really done an amazing job, and in my opinion out-acted the other excellent actors in this, precisely just because he wasn’t playing the flamboyant detective or the self-destructive reporter, but the nerdy boy scout.

i need to see this again for all those details now.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where "Jake Gyllenhaal" went while filming this, but he is nowhere to be found in this movie.

Very true - I liked this film a lot. There is so much going on it it, I'm going to have to see it a second time to really appreciate all of the details. In addition to the story and fine acting by Jake, RDJ, Mark Ruffalo, John Carroll Lynch and Anthony Edwards, the cinematograpy and soundtrack are extraordinary. Great review! :-)

Anonymous said...

^^I forgot to add that by my first line, I meant Jake becomes the character, he is Robert Graysmith.

smurfette said...

btw, good to have you back, PG! and also, john carrol lynch was simply excellent in this film!

Anonymous said...

PG, my reaction was similar to yours! I was surprised the film was ending. The time flew for me. And I thought Jake did an absolutely outstanding job. I sonmehow got the feeling that with RD,Jr.'s charater, he'd eventually have had a meltdown with or without Zodiac.Paul Avery was headed in that direction before the murders began. I think Zodiac accelerated it for him and he did get way caught up in the story he was covering. But the "unravelling" of Robert Graysmith was the most powerful. Jake anf Fincher did a remarkable job of portraying Graysmith in meltdown mode. It started out subtley and became more and more intense. Very believable. Jake is building an incredible body of work. This film will be arund for a lonnnng time. Just like Donnie Darko and BBM and Jarhead, which, to me are all cult classics. I'm glad he had this experience before Rendition. I think he needed to find out just how deep he could go.

heddaparsons said...

Wow! That was a great review PG. I was going to post my review on the forum, but after reading this I don't think I could add anything else to it. Very well written and on the mark, you should do this more often.

heddaparsons said...

PS: I should add that I loved the soundtrack! Some people complained that the pacing was too slow or that it needed some editing but I disagree. I thought that Fincher got it just right.

Anonymous said...

^^Me too! :-)

veeveevee said...

Thank you, PG, for a GREAT review! It summarized very nicely all that was bouncing around in my head.

I can't wait to see it again!

Agnes said...

Great review PG and I'll try NOT to download it!!

nass said...

Wow, Prophecy Girl, thank you so much for this great review!

You're certainly making me WANT to see that movie (and that's a bit horrible because it's been reported to may/june in France...), and for good reasons.

Also, I find it intersting and good that as a Jake fan, you noticed how far from his own personality his character is. I was tired of reading elwhere that Jake was playing himself here, and very surprised that some people could see Jake as what seemed to be such a nerdy type. I think that it's a constant in Jack acting : you don't see obvious, spectacular acting, which explains why other actors stand out more in the same films when it comes to awards. But you see a character so well depicted that you come to think Jake is like that. Then, depending on what you thought of the character, you like what you think is the actor... or not!

Of course, us stalkers are above this and know the real Jake! ;)

cina said...

Brilliant review PG! I'm very impressed! :)

And I'm definitely going to wait until it opens over here. *counting the days*

ncwoman said...

Great review, PG...articulate, objective and spot-on.

You are really a very talented writer, both in serious subjects and humor.

KayDee said...

Oh, and don't worry. There are plenty of close-ups and the digital clarity is amazing.

one crucial question though: any shower scenes? shirt-clinging-lovingly-to-his-body scenes? santa-hat-dance-like scenes? (not that i cant's appreciate a high brow intellectually stimulating entertainment... :P)

smurfette said...

^^ sorry, kaydee, none of those, though he's in these flimsy boxers (and a shirt) in one scene when he's watching tv. i'd also add that i found jake brushing his teeth to be strangely hot =P. ditto the whole dad thing, too aww.

i also echo PG's advice to wait for the big screen. i remember thinking if this is how great digital film looks, i'm sold. and there's one scene of the golden gate bridge that is simple breathtaking.

dottieb said...

The real Robert Graysmith will chat online at the Washington Post today at 2 pm eastern time (that's right now).

To submit your questions, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2007/03/09/DI2007030900522.html

The transcript will be available after the chat.

city girl said...

OMG beautifully said PG!! I had to laugh at your quote "I don't know where "Jake Gyllenhaal" went while filming this, but he is nowhere to be found in this movie"

As a matter of fact I still can't get up off the floor, but you're right again. He did such an amazing job in this roll the real Jake as we know him isn't in this movie.

I'm going to see it again this weekend.

dottieb said...

I don't think "Jake as we know him" is in any of his movies! In Zodiac, there was just one time when Graysmith had an expression I associate with Jake.

welliwont said...

PG you are a freakin' genius. Did anyone ever tell you you should be a writer?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Jake "as we know him" isn't in any of his movies.Sometimes a real person's persona, their quirks, their personality, their personal life, or what ever is so overpowering you can't get past it no matter how good they are. It just gets in the way. Russell Crowe. Tom Cruise are a couple who come to mind. Knowing too much about someone dilutes the effect when you see their films, unless they are always the same charater...like Harrison Ford. I think sometimes, the less we know about someone's personality or their personal life the better...except I love Jake and I want to know everytime he gets a haircut, or goes to the pharmacy, or sneezes, or gets a shot, or goes shopping, or walking, or biking, or surfing...

Anonymous said...

I've been watching Jake Watch for ages but this is the first time I felt compelled to comment.

First, thank you so much for the review. It was excellent, although, I stopped at the spoiler section. The way you organized the post, from your impression of JG to your thoughts on the film is awesome and appreciated.

This is exactly where I want JG to be in this stage in his career. He should be playing parts which don't represent some aspect of his personality because you're right on the mark when you say his previous films weirdly seem to project traits of JG.

Now I can go and see the film and not think on just JG but on his talents and how he was able to lose himself into character. Yay! That's how oscar is awarded. And the boy got talents galore.

dani said...

Fantastic review, PG. I will be thinking about all that you said when I see it tomorrow for the fourth time. All I know is that once again Jake is giving a performance that sneaks up on you, He is that good. Then you are left simply in awe of his talent. And like I said on the forum Zodiac thread, I have to give it up for David Fincher, He has created a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. And our Jake continues to be part of incredible moments in cinema history!

Anonymous said...

Just to pander to the baser side of my nature for a moment: I loved how he looked in this movie. At first, not so much, but then with the shorter hair and a bit of scruff as he "aged" he looked delicious. This film is going to be another Fincher clasic. Jake has an uncanny ability to pick projects/directors doing amazing things.

anonymous blonde said...

PG, what an insightful review of Zodiac.....
Like you, I found the movie creepy more than scary.

I totally agree with your observations.
You are so right...... can't go see this movie expecting to see Jake. I am reminded of one review (cannot remember which one) that praises Jake for his performance that is "without a trace of ego". His performance is so seamless, so subtle, so committed.... he IS Robert Graysmith, not Jake pretending to be Robert Graysmith.

Also, I loved the movie soundtrack!

Nick said...

Prophecy Girl— Wow, that was quite a thorough review for a really good movie. Thanks for letting me tag along. It was a priviledge to see Zodiac with you. I've been telling all my friends about it and wearing my button!

Bobbie said...

Great review, Prophecy Girl! I echo what everyone is saying about Jake really becoming the character. Sometimes I think because I'm so fangirly over him I forget what just an incredible actor he really is. Sorry, Jakester. I mean I did actually forget that I was watching Jake and he completely embodied Robert Graysmith.
I look forward to seeing it again and going into it just for the movie as a whole and not just Jake. I think I'll enjoy it more when I'm not all "OMG when will Jake be onscreen again! I didn't pay $8 for nothin!!" Because honestly it is a pretty great movie.

old mama said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of your post, PG, especially about how people should try to check their preconceived notions of Jake at the door to better enjoy the film. However, I disagree that Jake disappeared effectively into the role. This doesn't mean I felt Jake was playing Jake. It means I felt he struggled with his portrayal of Graysmith and it showed, and that in turn pulled me out of the film. Here we get into the highly subjective definition of what is "authentic" to a viewer and what isn't. I think we can agree though that when it's working you don't question it, you just believe through the skill of the actor that the character is fully inhabited.

For me, Jake didn't convince in in the same way Ruffalo and Downey Jr did in the choices he made to inhabit his character. For example, his mannerisms of a man aging over 20 years. My husband, a 45 yr old who loves police procedurals but who has never watched a Jake film, remarked that Jake seemed too young in his later scenes and said it affected his suspension of disbelief. His exact words were "he seemed the same age." I agreed that Jake's range in this area needed work, that at times it would have been hard to tell that years had passed in those interior scenes of his apartment with Chloe Sevigny had we not been able to read exactly how much time had passed at the bottom of the screen. It seemed to us that Jake needs more study in facial and body movements and the process of believable aging. In an interview he did for BBM I remember Jake saying that the middle-aged crew members would correct some of his mannerisms of the older Jack Twist. It seemed they thought that sometimes his movements were too exaggeratedly old for a 40 yr old man. My impression from that and now Zodiac is that maybe this area so far outside the experience of a young 26 yr old really gives Jake trouble. He either goes overboard and does too much or else too little. I think he should take a closer look at some of his costars performances in Zodiac to learn about good progression of age, outside of a character's make up and wardrobe. Or beyond at other actors like Gary Oldman's young to old Beethoven in Immortal Beloved. Or Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush as Valjean and Javert in Les Miserables.

I know it sounds as if I'm being overly critical of Jake but don't get me wrong, I think Jake has a lot of potential and for me that's part of the enjoyment of watching him. I get excited to see what he'll do next. However, I also think it's important to acknowledge as a fan who admires him that he's not going to be automatically perfect in every role, that he's still young and often acts young (sometimes painfully so in the presence of more experienced actors, like in Zodiac), and that he has a lot to learn. I also think Zodiac being so full of great character actors may have made Jake's limitations as one stand out more.

Ultimately I think it'll make him a better actor to be able to look critically back at his performance in Zodiac and figure out what he could have done better. Because it isn't just me or Jake fans with preconceived notions who're saying his performance lacked something. It's people who don't know Jake or who aren't regular followers of his work, it's film buffs on blogs and message boards who have no allegiance to critics, it's critics who aren't invested in whether or not Zodiac succeeds. In other words we aren't all coming from the same place but we seem to be arriving at a similar conclusion about Jake's performance, enough that I don't think anyone can say we're all just imagining things.

Just my .02 cents.

veeveevee said...

I need to see the movie again before I can comment more fully…but here are a couple of my thoughts…

I think Jake did a great job with the character (even Robert Graysmith himself said so). I expected to go into this movie all fangirly and “squee-ey” because I haven’t seen Jake on the big screen in so long, but I got so drawn into the story and the character that I forgot. Every once in a while I would think, “Oh…I really should be looking at how gorgeous he is,” but actually couldn’t think of him as Jake at all – he simply was Robert Graysmith in a very well-drawn story.

I do agree a bit with some of the comments about the physicality his aging, though. Maybe it was part of the costuming and also part of who Robert Graysmith is, but he didn’t really seem to change over time (he certainly didn’t follow clothing/hairstyle fads), and a lot of time passed during the span of the movie. From the beginning of the film to the scene in the hardware store, he didn’t seem to look much older to me, only that he looked more haunted (especially around the eyes), but about 14 years had passed. Men seem change a lot from 24 to 38, and I remember thinking at the time that he should have looked older, and I thought that the obsession would have actually aged him even further. We know Jake can do a great job with playing someone who ages over an even greater time span (BBM), so maybe it was on purpose – after all, Robert Graysmith is now in his 60s, and he doesn’t look incredibly old to me.

Thanks again, PG, for a great review – it made me more excited to see it again and see what I might pick up on this time!

kokodee said...

Well, even though we have to wait until May to see it here, it's been very interesting reading PG's review and especially everyone's comments. Most appreciated.

Old mama, thanks alot for your contribution, that was good fun to read and is as objective as possible for a Jake fan.

However, I did read somewhere that they decided to make Graysmith in the movie 'timeless'.
Whether this was a conscious decison on the director's part because he felt Jake wouldn't age convicingly is another question entirely.

KayDee said...

when i think that i have still over 3 months to wait, i get very very upset. very very upset. and jealous. grrrh.

Vilina said...

INCREDIBLE REVIEW! Prophency Girl!
Although I have to wait until April 20th to see Zodiac in Taiwan, it's still a great pleasure to read your "serious review!!!"

I agree with the "aging problem" that some comments have referred (from Jake as Jack Twist in BBM, some critics pointed out his boyishness still remained in 38-year-old Jack), but I also believe that Jake's potential will lead him.

Can't wait to see Zodiac in theater! And thank you again for such a fine review.

Anonymous said...

Re: the aging problem.
Leonardo Dicaprio has the same problem (have you seen the Aviator?)and that didn't stop him from being nominated for the oscar because he's charcaterization of Howard Hughes was pitch-perfect.

Besides when you think that actors in their 40's now include people like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, I don't think that Jake should be unduly worried about his screen potrayals.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but to be fair, in real life some men retain their boyish-ness well into middle age. People age at different rates, take great care of and don't abuse their health, and good genetics play a part, so it wouldn't be unheard of for some men not to show it as much, not just looks but attitude as well. It's a very small point in an otherwise great portrayal.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't even really aware of time passing, I was so into the story - except for the dates at the bottom of the screen. How much time actually passed from the beginning of the case until it wound down? I may be wrong, but I'm thinking most of the story took place during a span 10-12 years, and that's not a huge amount of aging to accomodate, especially for some people. We're not talking Rip van Winkle here. Brokeback had a time span of 20 years. I do think that Jake would look great with a little grey at the temples and crinkles around the eyes, tho, in time! :-)

butterflies said...

Forget the aging, dude looked too young to be a father. I mean those scenes with his kids? He looked more like a manny babysitting his way through college.
Jake the actor, just dosen't age period. He's like a vampire.

butterflies said...

Which isn't to say that he's acting was off, because it wasn't. He was very good, although I was drawn more to Mark Rufallo who was just outstanding.

But seriously I am excited for Jake's future because he just keeps churning out great stuff. He's cornered the market for the twentysomething leading men set.

kokodee said...

The Leo Dicaprio comparison is a very valid one. Remember 'Catch me if you can'? He was exactly the same at 16 as he was at 30, and I believe the real Frank Abedgnale(sp?)took out an ad in the paper to congratulate him on his spot-on potrayal.

Do you think that Jake would have the same type of career Leo has? I mean I sometimes worry that with everything looking so perfect that some disaster is just waiting to happen ...heaven forbid!

Anonymous said...

I think for some people it may be Jake's voice that distacts from the aging process and not necessarily his physical appearance. Bcz, really there's not so much difference between being 26 and 38, if that's the age range we're talking about.Sometimes those changes are more emotional/spiritual changes and are cnveyed in a weariness in the eyes, a set of the mouth, a way the person walks or the set of their shoulders. I think Jake handled that extremely well, and frankly, I'm glad Fincher didn't resort to cheesey make-up to "age" Jake artificially. If it weren't for the fact that I've know men in their 40's and 50's with the softer voice, I might have been put off by it. I think, tho, that some people mightnot be convinced of the aging bcz of the voice.

get real said...

I understand people's point about Jake's aging in the movie, but Robert Graysmith said he and his friends thought Jake was spot on to how he was at the time. Which I take as an accurate portrayal. Except for the hair loss Graysmith looks very good for Sixty. It seems like he didn't do much hard living.

I thought the movie was excellent and Jake and the whole cast did a fantastic job.

PG, your review was exactly how I felt about it. Great job, girl!

get real said...

Also, wanted to say that despite it not doing well at the box office (stupid people and that "Hog" movie...grrr) Jake has done a superb job of picking great projects.

And I am glad he has gotten mostly great reviews.

AlinaGyllenhaal said...

Prophecy, you're a killer!The remarks 'bout the movie are delicious... And I have to say our cinemas are likely not to show Zodiac. Hrrrrrr! I want to see it so much!!!

Kendra said...

Congratulations for your brilliant review, Pg, sadly in my country we'll to look forward until May (18th May) for "Zodiac" being released theatrically. I hope watching it before, although it's only in English no subtitles.

Anonymous said...

Jake was absolutely wonderful. Again, his characterization sort of sneaks up. You (generically) have no idea what a layered performance he's giving! He's a very subtle actor. I'm going to see it again this weekend. In a way, the characters Downey and Ruffalo played were "stock" characters. Bcz of their ability and Fincher's vision, they upended the cliches and turned in fine performances. But I think Jake had the greater challenge. His character was marginalized, not even taken seriously, "Robert. Don't you have a cartoon to finish?" in the beginning. He was dismissed. In fact, if it weren't for striking up a friendship with Avery no one even bothered to dicuss the case around him except for what he heard by being part of the editorial staff meetings. And there were no extremes of flamboyance or agressiveness to Graysmith in the beginning. If anything he was reticent by nature. His agressiveness eventually came out in very believeable ways. I think in a small way, he was emblematic of the larger community. He was afraid. (Taking his kid off the bus at the last minute.) And he decided to do something about his fear. I know that sounds simplistic and I don't mean that that was all that was going on, but I think fear did play a part in why he did what he did.

dani said...

Anon 5:51 GMT. I like what you said. Also, as a person in their 40's, I know a lot of people that don't look much different than they did at 30. As others have said, we all age differently so Jake's youthful appearance did not take me out of the film. As Jack Twist, I thought he was totally believable. After all, 40 is not suppose to look like 60. Although 60 is looking pretty good on a lot of people these days! I just kept in mind that the performance that Jake delivered in Zodiac is what Fincher wanted.

Nothing Really Matters said...

Dude mean mean people die in this film?

I can't wait till next month!

Anonymous said...

For anyone in the UK I was just reading Total Film Mag, theres a short interview with Mark Ruffalo and says Zodiac opens 18th May and will reviewed in next months edition.

Anonymous said...

Fridays boxoffice:

http://www.showbizdata.com/dailybox.cfm

1. 300 WARNER BROS. 3,103 27,688,000 8,923 n/a 27,688,000
2. WILD HOGS BVI 3,296 7,651,000 2,321 -30% 57,023,000
3. ZODIAC PARAMOUNT 2,379 2,035,000 855 -51% 18,984,000
4. GHOST RIDER SONY 3,347 1,937,000 579 -37% 99,280,000
5. BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA BVI 3,210 1,762,000 549 -14% 61,901,000
6. NUMBER 23, THE NEW LINE 2,489 1,316,000 529 -38% 28,171,000
7. MUSIC AND LYRICS WARNER BROS. 2,280 1,205,000 529 -20% 41,230,000
8. NORBIT PARAMOUNT 2,505 1,120,000 447 -33% 85,097,000
9. BREACH UNIVERSAL 1,504 744,000 495 -26% 27,249,000
10. AMAZING GRACE IDP FILMS 2,155 711,000 330 n/a 9,655,000

S4M985 said...

Brilliant review PG, im so glad that whoever is holding u captive let u go to see the movie (not only once but twice) and let u write that, very entertaining, i couldnt help but read the spoilers!

Anyway i havnt had time to read the above comments, so sorry if im repeating somethingdo you think i should read the book before i go see the movie (i still have a few mths to wait!) And what exactly is it called and who is the Author of the one you were talking about. I just want to make sure i read the right one!

Anonymous said...

Funny. After reading Fincher's comments about "earnestness", the Robert Graysmith character (NOT JAKE) was nothing if not earnest in the first part of that movie.

cina said...

And what exactly is it called and who is the Author of the one you were talking about. I just want to make sure i read the right one!

Sam, PG is talking about Robert Graysmith's book "Zodiac" (the film is based on it). I have read it myself and it's very good and interesting. He has also written a second book about the Zodiac on which the film also is based, called "Zodiac Unmasked" which I have yet to read. It's in my bookshelf but I haven't gotten around to open it yet. But I do recommend "Zodiac"! :)

S4M985 said...

omg im such a spaz, of course its Robert Graysmiths book! Oh gosh i think i need to go back to bed.. thanks cina!

Anonymous said...

Bcz it was lovely outside I went downtown to wander. There were two couples with small children window shopping one had a toddler, the other a baby in a stroller. They looked like teenagers! Could easily have passed for 18 -19. While waiting for the light, I overheard enough conversation to determine one daddy was an attorney. He had to be at least 25 -28. Maybe even older. Looks aren't really an accurate determinate for age in many cases.
I thought Jake did an excellent job. All the sexiness that radiates off of him naturally in real life is totally gone when he is in character for his film roles.

Anonymous said...

As someone else said, it sounds like not much would have escaped David Fincher's scrutiny for Zodiac - 70-90 takes of scenes at times. We can be sure the the final product is what he wanted.

smurfette said...

it's a bit late in the discussion on the aging thing, but i just wanted to chime in. i get what old mama is saying about jake not aging so much in zodiac, and i also agree with the sentiment that our objective as commenters here at JW should not be to just pat jake on the back all the time and discourage contructive criticism, especially in a serious discussion such as this. so for that, i commend you for dissenting with the general opinions and speaking up about where you found fault in jake's performance.

that said, i really have to agree with the person who said s/he was so engrossed in the details of the plot unfolding that s/he didn't notice or get distracted by the passage of time-- no one else really aged in it either, except for jake's kids, so i honestly didn't think about it. on the other hand, your comment did make me think about something i think jake should work on: his voice. for a leading man, jake has a much higher voice than the average, and i think if he learned to control it and change it more for performances, he would really astonish people. i'm thinking kinda like the way liv tyler and cate blanchett lowered their voices for lord of the ring, or meryl streep in every other performance. i think his aging was more convincing in bbm partly because he had vocal coaches helping with the accent who also helped in adjusting the accent to age-- whereas he was using his normal voice in zodiac, and didn't have such a tool.

Anonymous said...

I think Jake's voice does make him sound younger. But Fincher did get exactly what he was looking for. Wonder if Jake does vocal exercises? Those help enormously. And another thing. His voice doesn't sound as high pitched in RL as it does on film. And his voice in Jarhead was fine.
So maybe it's something about sound mixing or sound engineering, too. Fincher could have calibrated his voice lower if he'd wanted to.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree; I tend to have strong opinions, so I wouldn't want anyone to think I wasn't all for an open discusion! Positive comments as well as what we didn't like should be discussed freely.

I'm the one who posted about not being aware of the passage of time. The movie gives you a sense of their obsession with the case, and I went right along with them, so I really didn't have much of a sense of time passing, I became so engrossed in it, time in the movie itself and the for me personally in the theater.

Anonymous said...

^^sorry, should read "such a sense of their obsession with the case". :-)

Anonymous said...

I saw Zodiac for the second time this weekend, and I loved it even more than the first time. To me it's an extremely well done movie.

I appreciated all the details in Zodiac the second time around all the more. And yes, the characters do age, very subtly, but they do IMO. Four years later, Graysmith is no longer the shy, naive outsider he was walking into the SF Chronicle offices at the beginning of the movie. He's got more confidence, more hollows under the eyes. Everyone's a little more world-weary. Toschi and Avery seem to have grey in their hair and more furrowed brows. I could appreciate the subtleties of Jake's performance even more. In that beginning scene, looks like he's pulled entirely into himself as he walks in, no outward expression at. Even his eyes are not the beacons they usually are, and the real Jake usually glows in public. I think it's a film you need to see more than once to fully appreciate, and it's received great critical acclaim.

Anonymous said...

Because it isn't just me or Jake fans with preconceived notions who're saying his performance lacked something. It's people who don't know Jake or who aren't regular followers of his work, it's film buffs on blogs and message boards who have no allegiance to critics, it's critics who aren't invested in whether or not Zodiac succeeds. In other words we aren't all coming from the same place but we seem to be arriving at a similar conclusion about Jake's performance, enough that I don't think anyone can say we're all just imagining things.

There are just as many, if not more, critics, observers and viewers who have praised Jake's overall performance. I'm all for people speaking their minds, but what you perceive isn't necessarily the only perception. And your criticism is no more valid than other's praise.

Also, I'm pretty sure Jake is aware of the aging process as it pertains to film. As is David Fincher. For whatever reason, they didn't place much emphasis on it.

I don't think Mark Ruffalo aged particularly convincingly. Nor did Chloe S or the alleged killer. But for some reason, Jake is the only one taken to task.

the queen said...

I absolutely agree about not going to "Zodiac" to see Jake because it's not a movie over which most of his fans are going to drool. You really nailed it about him being a nerd, quoting RD Jr. accusing him of "looming". His character is actually sort of annoying, kind of nervous and obsessed. I also agree it's a very good movie.

"Brokeback Mountain" is still my favorite; it's what made me a Jake fan!!

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