Zodiac: Director's Cut
Spencer Parsons has been waiting for a proper DVD of Fincher's essay on the dorkiness of evil since end titles rolled in the theatre
Reviewed by Spencer Parsons, Fri., Feb. 15, 2008
Zodiac: The Director's CutParamount, $34.99
In David Fincher's Seven, there's a good gag when Brad Pitt hits the library in search of a serial killer's literary influences, where he turns up Dante, Milton, and someone he calls "the Marquis de Shar-day." For a real-life psycho, the singer Sade would make a more typical raison de murder than the Marquis de Sade (and, for that matter, might still rate a couple of notches too highbrow). So when Fincher came to direct screenwriter James Vanderbilt's true-crime based Zodiac, it's a good thing he stuck with the eponymous fiend's actual reading list, which is much scarier.
As one of the big brains in the serial-killer pantheon, the never-captured Zodiac could do better, one would think, than some moldy Boy Scout code books and "The Most Dangerous Game," a crappy short story notorious for its ubiquity in eighth-grade English classes. I mean, what, Lord of the Flies was too long? Because let's face it, an evil genius cat-and-mousing one step ahead of the cops and journalists on his trail isn't that scary, but preadolescent pleas for attention and frankly lame obsessions turning deadly is something else entirely, signifying a thought process lying outside a reasonably intelligent investigator's experience, not too grand to comprehend but, more probably, too dumb.
Honestly, I've been waiting for a proper DVD of Fincher's essay on the dorkiness of evil since end titles rolled in the theatre. While the four additional minutes in this two-disc director's cut neither greatly add to nor detract from its look into the void, the featurettes on the real-life case deliver everything I've been wanting ... and less. Because no matter how thrillingly informative and creepy these interviews with survivors and investigators may be (delivered in spare, hypnotic rhythms on loan or lifted from Errol Morris), there can never be enough. The latter-day victim of Zodiac ends up all night in a Googling flop-sweat, amassing more information and red herrings, more blind alleys, more pet theories and bones of contention, ad infinitum. Where Seven invoked religion on its surface and in that reading list, Zodiac and its extras deliver something quite singular in American cinema, a terror at finding and losing something like God as you look into the eyes of a man who may or may not have done it, and he's working the key counter at Ace Hardware.
ALSO OUT NOW...
The Dragnet Collection, Vol. 1 (Pop Flix, $6.98): Had enough cosmic ambiguity with your police procedurals? Get this box and see five crimes absolutely solved, with zero formal hanky panky, in the same time it takes to watch an unknown number of crimes never solved in one Zodiac.
Great World of Sound (Magnolia Home Entertainment, $26.98): Craig Zobel's assured feature debut chases its own vast mystery. Through the eyes of two would-be "talent scouts" conned into conning potential musical "talent" for a shady record company, the film weaves fiction and documentary in a portrait of everyday tragedy at the heart of the American Idol dream.