si fincher, si herzog at akow

* I took out my trusty old tape recorder last sunday in preparation for the series of interviews i have to do this week. The poor machine is covered in thick dust. I tried to play one of my mini-cassette tapes but apparently the recorder has been set aside quite too long. It wouldn't work. I have interviewed countless of personalities with that tape recorder: from president's sons to love-struck couples, from socialites to star wannabes. Of course, I couldn't help but be sentimental. I stared at the machine in desperation and wondered if my writing skill is as rusty as my recorder. Will I still be able to put together a sensible, grammatically correct, and interesting piece?

* My boyfriend and I saw Zodiac over the weekend. I was a fan of david fincher. When I saw seven as a college student i was naturally impressed. The dark mood (rain-soaked city, shadowy crime scenes, and gothic scoring courtesy of Nine Inch Nails) spoke to me. it was like those classic 1940s film noirs, only more shocking and explicit. seven wasn't original but it was riveting and it was stylish as hell. I guess, one could say that david fincher and I had an auspicious beginning.

His next three movies The Game, Fight Club, and Panic room, however, left me unsatisfied. Of the three, Fight Club impressed me most but that's because he had Brad Pitt and Edward Norton (my perennial crush) slug it out half-naked in an abandoned warehouse. There was so much homo-eroticism going on that I bet the gay guys who saw the movie came out of the theater with a big hard-on (Ha.ha.). But I dismissed the movie as purely an exercise in style.

It is with such impression that I sat to watch zodiac. First off, I was mildly surprised that the movie had no elaborate opening billboard. The camera didn't shoot out of a person's body nor did it glide fluidly across a small apartment building. Zodiac, which covers the search of a serial killer from the 70s up the 90s, is a movie of almost epic proportion. It starts with a seemingly insignificant crime in a small town and moves on to the editorial department of the san francisco chronicle. What I love about the movie is that it is not so much as a who dunnit but a drama of how people's lives are affected and changed by certain circumstances (or in this case by a serial killer who hardly makes an appearance).

The movie clocks at almost three hours but i was riveted from the beginning to the end. the scene where the investigators were grilling the suspect was superb. in another scene, the one where gyllanhall visits the movie house owner, fincher shows his flair for suspense.

for the first time david fincher threw out style in favor of substance. in one of the letters, the zodiac wrote that he wishes to see a good movie about him. i guess fincher fulfilled his wish. at best the movie reminded me of one of scorsese's ambitious projects and that is saying a lot.

* fitzcarraldo. fitzcarraldo (played to perfection by klaus kinski) is a fan of the opera but more importantly he is, in every sense of the word, a dreamer. when the movie begins, he is just recuperating from an ambitious failed project, that of building a railway system right in the middle of the amazon. later on, he reveals his another dream: he intend to build an opera house in the heart of the jungle and have caruso sing at the premiere.

The movie is all about attempting the impossible. one look at fitzcarraldo and you will realize that this person will do everything to achieve what he has set out to do. Later in the film, we watch him haul a steam boat up into a mountain using only pulleys and the help of a thousand indians. I sat before the TV mesmerized while fitzcarraldo stands at the foot of the mountain, watching his steamboat half-buried on the side of mountain. What is even more fascinating is that the german director, Werner Herzog did this in 1982 without the help of miniatures or CGI. The boat that is being dragged is a real steamboat. Titatic this is not.

I read that Werner herzog's plight to make this movie was also quixotic in nature. Not only did the funds dried out in the middle of the project (they had to make two real identical steamboats), the initial leads also suffered from a particular disease caught in the amazon jungle (kinski was the third choice. One time they had their eyes set on Jack Nicholson). Apparently, herzog and fitzcarraldo couldn't be more different from each other. Nothing much happens in this masterpiece but the sheer drive of the lead character is enough to leave a mark in my somewhat defeatist consciousness.


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