Zodiac: David Fincher's never-bettered police-procedural comes to Netflix – Stuff
David Fincher’s Zodiac was released in 2007.
In the nearly decade-and-a-half since then, I have never seen a better film of its type.
Zodiac is a police-procedural and an old-fashioned newspaper movie rolled into one. As a revisiting and reopening of the Zodiac serial killer case that rocked San Francisco and California in the 1960s and 1970s, it takes a steady and unflashy path through years of investigation, multiple suspects and dozens of key players.
The genius of Fincher’s direction – and all the other technical credits here – is that the film remains easy to follow and completely engrossing. Telling this much story – even over that 160-minute running time – and keeping your audience along for the ride, without car chases or gun fights, is an incredible achievement.
If you feel like watching a truly great film, then dim the lights, turn off the cellphone and tablet and kick back for Zodiac. It’s a film that really should be seen in a theatre, but if Netflix is the only option we have, then take it.
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A friend who I trust in these things, posted on Facebook a few days back that this stand-up comedy special was a great find. Somehow, I’d never run into Sheng Wang before. So I gave Sweet and Juicy a spin.
I’m glad I did. Wang is a Taiwanese-American stand-up who has been making waves and working his way up the ladder for a few years now. He’s had a few guesting moments on TV shows and has released an album. But down here in the last stop before Antarctica, there’s no shame in having not heard of him.
And, it turns out, Sheng Wang is the real deal. His jokes are intricately set up and perfectly weighted. He is a smart observer of American life, but he finds some detours to go down and some details to notice that make him pretty much unique among the Netflix roster. An early routine on why you should respect and fear the man who buys his pants at a discount chain store is well worked and a decent introduction to Wang’s ways. But a sudden detour into the zen of car parking is unexpected and delightful.
Wang has a relaxed, unhurried and gentle style. It’s an approach that relies entirely on the material being strong enough to not need the support of mad physical comedy to help it along. And it works. There’s a lot of try-too-hard comics out there. Wang almost makes it look easy. I was impressed and happy.
If there’s one genre that Netflix seems to love above all others, it’s true crime documentaries. And films about dogged journalists and investigators who expose corruption and fraud is pretty much an entire division of Netflix content at the moment – on my homepage at least.
So seeing the new release Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard appear in my recommendations this week was exactly no surprise at all.
Wirecard were a German company which aspired to be the next PayPal. Seeing a gap in the market, Wirecard started processing payments for companies that other players in the market wouldn’t – or couldn’t –touch. The pornography industry provided Wirecard’s first big clients – and from there, the clientele got seedier as the company founders’ appetite for profits grew. Soon enough, Wirecard was more of a money laundering operation than a legitimate processor of online payments.
And Wirecard were a really big deal. They were a German Fintech (financial technology) company who had the ear of politicians, a rocketing share price and a place in the hearts of the German population.
As someone says early on in Skandal!, "No one would believe that this was the work of gangsters”. But it was.
The investigation that eventually opened the lid on all of this, was led by Financial Times reporter Dan McCrum, who worked for years, got into scrapes, had his livelihood and health threatened and lived to tell the tale – and then write the inevitable book.
Skandal! is a very watchable and accessible show. And, unusually for Netflix, it’s all over in one 90-minute installment. Bravo.
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