In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_walk_among_the_tombstones

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Fans of the hardboiled detective, rejoice. Screenwriter-director Scott Frank and actor Liam Neeson, adapting the splendid work of crime novelist Lawrence Block, have brought a…

Thumb_zero_theorem_ver4

The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam's first science fiction film since "12 Monkeys" is an inventively designed but oddly inert satire on technology, God and the future of humankind.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Inverting a Zodiac code

zodf.jpg

 There. That's fixed. The corrected analog version.

Dear David Fincher:

Just a note to say how much I appreciate your film "Zodiac" -- especially its use of 1960s and 1970s analog technologies and strategies. Cryptograms, city grids, travel distances, postmarks, calendars, trailer stall numbers, gun calibers, meal schedules, geographical jurisdictions, faxes, date books, phone numbers, addresses... well, I've expressed my admiration of how your film works and plays with these signs (no, I'm not a semiotician) before, and Manohla Dargis does a fine job of it in today's New York Times, too. (I particularly like her observation that: "'Zodiac' is about thinking, it’s about working things through intellectually, hazarding guesses, trying to solve puzzles (the killer largely communicates through ciphers) and about the dawning of awareness, which encapsulates the experience of watching it." That's one way I like to describe a good movie: It not only teaches you how to watch it, but becomes about the experience you have as you watch it.)

zodn.jpg

 The theatrical release analog version.

In a movie about obsessive detail, and the life-or-death importance placed upon even the tiniest, one little thing has stood out to me from my first viewing as being slightly... askew. Prominently displayed by the desk of San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) is a campaign button for Richard Nixon. The problem is that this button reads: NIXON. It has always struck me that Avery would have done what so many of us did at that time, which is to flip the button (or bumper-sticker or whatever) upside-down so that it read NOXIN -- a simple visual gag that's also a kind of cryptogram, and maybe a malformed counter-cultural pun (NIXON = TOXIN). We found it amusing that the monolithic GOP (or the RNC or CREEP or the FBI or some other Republican Establishment entity) had unwittingly, through the use of simple block letters, made it so easy to turn their message on its head. Mild subversive gestures were rarely so delightfully effortless. Best of all: 100% analog!

winb.jpg

 Whip Inflation Now. The WIN button, from the Gerald R. Ford administration.

Anyway, I hope you have already made this little adjustment in your Director's Cut of "Zodiac," which I am about to watch. Just in case, I've taken the liberty of making a slight freehand PhotoShop tweak to the still, above.

Many thanks again,

jim

Popular Blog Posts

Now, "Voyager": in praise of the Trekkiest "Trek" of all

As we mourn Abrams’ macho Star Trek obliteration, it’s a good time to revisit that most Star Trek-ian of accomplishme...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

Defying Explanation: The Brilliance of David Lynch's "Eraserhead"

An appreciation of David Lynch's "Eraserhead" on the release of the film on Criterion Collection Blu-ray.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus