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July 25, 2007

Zodiac - 6

A true-crime film based on the book by newspaper cartoonist turned investigative journalist- Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal). Graysmith was sucked into the mystery of the Zodiac killer (spoiler link) as he was around the editorial floor of the San Francisco Chronicle when the killings took place in the early 60's. The killer sent letters to the paper- gaining publicity by having his cyphers printed under threat of more violence. He soon started a friendship with writer Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.)- teaching him about elementary code books, the film The Most Dangerous Game as inspiration, and cypher tricks that might lead to more information about the killer. The film then focuses on the police investigation by SFPD homicide detectives David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards). This search soon leads to burn out on the part of both the media and investigators as leads seem to fail because of the dependency of the investigation on handwriting samples. The film eventually returns to Graysmith and his tenacious search for the truth, to the point of personal crisis- as his wife (Chloe Sevigny) leaves him. This film works because I knew very little about the case and was happy to follow the clues along to find out whodunit. Like a friend said to me about real-crime stories: they make you curious and inquisitive about how people go about making decisions and the intended and unintended consequences of these choices. This is an intriguing story that focuses more on the characters than trying too hard to weave an intricate conspiracy.

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