Zodiac -- A rare movie that I liked

Zodiac -- A rare movie that I liked

As I state with some frequency to anyone who'll listen, I'm not much for popular movies.

Years ago, I went all the time. Now I hardly ever go. I guess I'm Exhibit A for the proposition that movies are made primarily for kids and young adults.

That, however, does not mean that I don't look for movies that I think I might like. When I find one, I am pleasantly pleased.That's why I'm recommending the movie "Zodiac," which stars among others Robert Downey Jr. I went to see it on the recommendation of a friend and found it very interesting, even creepy. I understand it's about to end its run at the local movie theaters, but it should be out on video soon enough.

Keep it in mind.

Zodiac is a true story about a serial killer in California in the early 1970s. As the movie so aptly notes, in one interesting and ironic scene, it provided a storyline of sorts for the first Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" movie.

But Zodiac is nothing like "Dirty Harry."

Zodiac is about the long, frustrating, tedious and ultimately failed investigation to identify the "Zodiac" killer.

In addition to scaring the public to death, the murder spree drives reporters and police working the case to the brink of a mental colllapse.

At first, it was Zodiac's habit to kill or viciously wound young couples who were alone. Later, he expanded his practice to isolated acts of murder, like that of a taxi driver. He taunted police by reporting the crimes with anonymous phone calls, sent letters to the newspapers, police and prominent citizens and goaded them with coded messages that laid out his views on the issues of the day.

One thing he never did was leave any significant evidence that would help identify him, with the sole exception of one of his first victims. The young man, a teen-ager, somehow survived an onslaught of bullets but then disappeared. He remained hidden from police reach for years before he was finally located years later and asked to identify the shooter from a handful of pictures.

This movie mostly is about the failure of police and reporters, despite incredible efforts, to close a high-profile case. It lasts well over two hours. But I found it interesting all the way to the end.

It's not your typical thriller. Indeed, it's not even a thriller. But my guess is that it's a more accurate portrait of how police pursue cases than most of what's put on the silver screen.

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