Men in shirtsleeves talking on the phone and writing things down has become something of a subgenre, from All the President’s Men to recent best picture Oscar winner Spotlight. Such films are necessarily set in a pre-digital past, when journalism required notebooks and stubby pencils. Although David Fincher’s sublime Zodiac is based on the hunt for the real San Francisco serial killer of that name in the late 1960s and early 70s, its power lies not in the tense and disturbing murder scenes but in the gripping investigations that ensue, courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter Robert Downey Jr, Jake Gyllenhaal’s cartoonist-turned-reporter (upon whose book Zodiac is based) and Mark Ruffalo’s detective. The fact that the perpetrator wasn’t officially identified never reduces the tension, as our newshounds apparently close in. Fincher’s suitably moody film – talky but intelligent and shot partly on digital stock – is very long, eerily scored by David Shire, and nothing like standard serial-killer thrillers. And that’s why I love it.
33 years after Alien (which follows in tonight’s double bill), Ridley Scott proves he’s still the master of sci-fi horror, as an expedition goes in search of mankind’s alien ancestors. But they might not like what they find.
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