13 Going On 30 2004 ***

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The perennially underused Jennifer Garner gets a showcase for her acting (and dancing) skills in Gary Winick’s engaging fantasy, peppered with neat cultural references and gags. Garner plays Jenna, who makes a wish on her 13th birthday, and awakens to find that she’s a 30 year old woman. He life appears complete, but she’s haunted by the idea that she’s missed something, and tracks down her old boyfriend Matt (Mark Ruffalo) in an effort to see what she might have missed. Most actresses struggle with physical comedy; garner takes to it like a duck to water, artfully suggesting a child’s mentality in an adult body. Ruffalo is a perfect foil; the scene in which they dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller is something of a delight to behold.

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Zodiac 2007 ****

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David Fincher has returned over and over again to serial killer lore since Se7en, and although the public found his 157 minute adaptation of Robert Graysmith’s book too much to handle, Zodiac is a hypnotic, absorbing film. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Graysmith, a San Francisco cartoonist obsessed with the idea of catching the infamous Zodiac killer. Robert Downey Jr is an interested reporter, and Mark Ruffalo is David Toschi, the real life inspiration for the Steve McQueen character in Bullitt. Fincher contributes several shocking scenes of murder in the first half of the film, and the second half is a meticulous investigation of the killer’s identity, rising to some tense set pieces as Graysmith investigates. A thoughtful investigation of the morality of law and order, Zodiac’s moody tone and feel from San Francisco street-life make it a rewarding experience for crime fans.