Movie Review: Zodiac

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Zodiac is the name for an officially unidentified serial killer. His target area was Northern California. We know that he killed at least five people in the San Francisco Bay Area in the time period of December 1968 to October 1969. The crime scenes were mostly in rural, urban and suburban settings. I do not know if there are any Zodiac cases in industrial areas.

Two of the attempted victims survived. According to the Zodiac, he killed over 37 people.

There is a lot of information about the cases online so we do not have to summarize them here.

Like most people who read true crime, I was familiar with the name and the general outlines of the cases however, I never delved into them. Zodiac always had a huge digital footprint therefore, this movie from 2007 was not on my radar.

I came across it while scrolling. I saw three actors whom I recognized from the Marvel movies. I thought it would be good to see them in different roles. They did not disappoint.

The movie takes us to the known crime scenes and follows the police investigation. It shows you the difficulties of that time. No computers, no digital archives, no cell phones, etc. It also brings up the issues you run into when government agencies need to collaborate across their lines of jurisdiction.

What I appreciate most is that this movie does not focus on gory details. All murders are horrific. The bulk of the time however, more than 2.5 hours, you are following in detail how the investigation inched forward, where it stopped, how it was picked up, who found which needle in the haystack, and most importantly, we witness how everyone involved in the investigation transforms. The ones who were more cool and collected in the beginning of the movie, slowly unravel. Those with a objective, almost clinical take on the matter become obsessed and lose touch with cherished parts of their reality.

The actor Mark Ruffalo who plays Inspector Dave Toschi, reminded me of Lt. Columbo. His wavy hair, the raincoat, the scratching of the head, the focus on the small details, his calmness, I could not help but see the similarities.

Recommended viewing!

Note:

In October 2021, a cold case investigation team known as the Case Breakers – a group of over forty former police investigators, journalists, and military intelligence officers, claimed to have identified the Zodiac killer. According to them, his name was Gary Francis Poste. He died in August 2018. He was 80 years old.

Poste was a former US Air Force serviceman and allegedly had a violent character. The group said in this article that they came to this identification based on “forensic evidence, photos found in Poste’s own darkroom and on some of the serial killer’s coded notes.”

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Downton Abbey ticket
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This morning, we saw Downton Abbey, a new era. I have not followed the series so I was a tad at a loss about who-is-who but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the movie. The decorum, the costumes, the scenery, it is very beautifully done. It did have a déjà vu to a favourite movie of mine, Singing in the Rain. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I won’t say more. You will enjoy it.

It was lovely to see so many actors who play parts in favourites of mine. Several played in the Harry Potter series and quite a few are from Midsomer Murders.

The movie follows two main plotlines. One takes place at Downton Abbey and the other in the South of France. But it is the third storyline that is of particular interest as it deals with mental health.

The stress placed on people to live up to certain expectations. The stress of being in a loving relationship knowing that you are not in love or inferior to someone or something else. The stress of not being accepted because you love someone from your own gender.

The stress of being adored knowing people laugh at you behind your back. The stress of knowing that your entire life can crumble around you due to something that happened decades ago. The stress of holding on to resentment even if misplaced, the stress of not being able to express grief properly, and most importantly, the stress not not being able to love your heart’s choice.

I will need to look up some family trees online to find the who-is-who so I can review the movie in my mind. It will be a pleasant rerun.

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts 3

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This weekend, we saw the third installment in the series Fantastic Beasts and where to find them. There were not a lot of fantastic beasts in the third movie unlike the first. More importantly, the storyline was shaky.

If you have not seen the movie, I will try to explain my points without giving away the plot. And that is the first hurdle.

Aside from the obvious ‘Grindelwald versus Dumbledore’ storyline, good versus bad and each side has its own particulars, there are a few side-lines. In general, this is not a problem but here, it is. The side-lines are needed to mask the fact that the main plotline is thin. It is like when Bilbo, in the Hobbit, says “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The film has wonderful moments where you find elements of the Harry Potter movies and there’s a lot of humour. The prison scene is priceless. That’s all I’m saying.

But, as my friend said “Who needs a screenplay when you have CGI?” The art is wonderfully done and the acting is good but they cannot make up for that thin storyline.

The moment that told me the movie would ultimately leave me disappointed (but I am still glad I saw it) started with a knock on the door of the Hog’s Head Inn.

Aberforth Dumbledore, one of three children to Percival and Kendra Dumbledore, runs the pub ‘Hog’s Head Inn’ in Hogsmeade village. His older brother is of course, Albus Dumbledore, and his younger sister was Ariana. Her portrait, which in the last Harry Potter movie shields the only remaining entrance through which Hogwarts can be entered unseen, returns in this movie.

Albus and Aberforth are at the pub. Despite being closed, someone keeps knocking. Albus opens the door. The person at the door gives him information that he needs.

At this point in the movie, each side is building their team. Each try to get talented and loyal witches and wizards at their side. Yet, Albus does not ask the person at the door to team up with him. It stunned me as this person is not just an exceptionally skilled witch. Throughout the Harry Potter books, she has shown her loyalty, her strength, dedication to good, and her power. He sends her away.

Later in the movie, there are scenes depicting great magic but if I recall the Potter books correctly, some magic cannot be done inside Hogwarts. The Great Hall is massively reduced in size and that was always a hallmark to me.

This third movie does not seem to be a bridge like the ‘Two Towers‘ bridged the ‘Fellowship‘ to prepare for the ‘Return of the King.’ It feels like an end, unless the money that pours in does not disappoint after all.

We get final answers to many questions in this third movie. Some we had already guessed.

It isn’t a secret that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were once lovers. We know from his loyalty and the way he looked at her, that Newt will forever be in love with Tina. And there is no other woman for Kowalski than Queenie.

We know from Harry Potter that Aberforth is a bitter man and not just in his relationship with Albus. We have also seen his loyalty when he helps Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We saw his power when he joins in the Battle of Hogwarts.

That Ariana and her death weigh heavily on Aberforth’s mind is obvious from the big portrait that he has of her in his quarters. There are no other portraits. Not from his parents, not from Albus, just Ariana. In this movie, we get the details so not discussing this further.

From Fantastic Beasts 2, we know about the blood pact between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. The moment that you see the blood pendant, the visuals will take your mind to the Potter scene where Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy make the unbreakable vow. And then you know what comes and what cannot happen.

I do think that we will see a fourth and a fifth movie as Dumbledore still needs to win the Elderwand from Grindelwald. And, in the first movie, the Obscurus played such a huge role, it cannot end like it does in movie 3. But there is another reason.

The movie is called ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore‘ and the biggest one that I was waiting for, is untouched: the Deathly Hallows.

If you love the magical world, I do recommend this movie as it is a wonderful visual treat and to relive some Potter memories. If you are looking for a strong story with well worked out plotlines, you may be disappointed.