Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch & Dermot Mulroney.
Written by James Vanderbilt.
Directed by David Fincher.
He was known as the Zodiac – a psychopath who terrorised San Francisco with a spate of murders beginning in the late 1960s. He sent coded messages and taunting letters to police and to the Chronicle newspaper. And he was never caught. From the outset, the case attracted the attention of a young Chronicle cartoonist named Robert Graysmith, and he spent many obsessive years poring over case files eventually penning a best-selling book. Graysmith declared he had cracked the unsolved case, naming the man he believed responsible for the killings. Based on Graysmith’s book, David Finchers’ long and at times difficult film is nonetheless a visually beautiful piece of work. Detailing (and I mean detailing) the exhaustive investigation and the effect on those involved, Zodiac weaves a serpentine story with an astounding nuance. The cast, production design and direction are all first class, with Fincher providing perhaps his most stylistically impressive film to date. This is, however, an acquired taste, but one of those films that gets better with each subsequent viewing.
Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong & Mark Strong.
Written by Alex Garland.
Directed by Danny Boyle.
Near-classic sci-fi about a small crew of astronauts charged with delivering a nuclear payload to our dying Sun. When they receive a radio transmission emanating from the idle craft of a failed earlier mission, their decision to investigate and what they discover threatens to sabotage mankind’s only chance of survival. Production details are one of the key elements of this film, providing a consistently believable (if fictional) account of life on a spacecraft. The first half of the film expertly introduces its characters and their environment, allowing the audience to identify and become emotionally involved. This is all thanks to the excellent script from Alex Garland and the dramatic skills of Sunshine’s talented cast. The visual effects are some of the most impressive ever created for a film since the advent of CGI, enhancing the story with subtle power in the deliberate manner of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Director Danny Boyle’s often creeping camera affords instant comparisons to Ridley Scott’s 70’s classic Alien, and I would be seriously in error to not also mention the terrific score by John Murphy & Underworld. In all, Sunshine is a work of art, existing in a genre that rarely offers such treats.
Michael Clayton (2007)
George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Merritt Weaver, Robert Prescott, Terry Serpico & Sydney Pollack.
Written & Directed by Tony Gilroy.
Arthur Edens (Wilkinson) is the leading defence attorney in a major civil suit being brought against United Northfield – a multinational agricultural corporation. When he suffers a breakdown (crisis of conscience) during a deposition, his New York law firm sends their fixer Michael Clayton (Clooney) to render damage control. When a memo surfaces that threatens to unravel the case, and not content with Clayton’s assurances regarding Arthur’s mental state, U-North’s sycophantic lead council Karen Crowder (Swinton) murderously decides to deal with the matter herself. Michael Clayton is a magnificent film – dark, smart and complex. This impressive directing debut from Tony Gilroy is a no-holds-barred examination of the corruption of the powerful juxtaposed with the indelible morality of the righteous. Clooney, Wilkinson and Swinton (she won an Oscar for her performance) are tremendous in meaty roles and are afforded excellent support from the entire cast. Slick, tense and written with clarity and a poison pen, Michael Clayton is one of the finest American dramas of this decade.