Given the longish length of Zodiac (the Director’s Cut DVD runs 162 minutes) and the general theme of obsessiveness and meta-detail, it seemed fitting that this morning’s phoner with director David Fincher should run longer than usual and go into a little more technical detail than normal. We talked for 49 minutes and the time just flew.

We began by discussing Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount, 11.28), which he hasn’t test-screened or even come close to finishing. To go by yesterday’s posting (which came second-hand from a below-the-liner who allegedly worked on it), this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s 1922 short story may be more emotionally affecting than the Fincher usual-usual, which has always been on the dark, visually audacious side.
I told Fincher my only problem thus far is with the name “Benjamin Button,” which sounds like something out of Hans Christian Andersen. Fincher doubts if the title means anything to anyone these days, and doesn’t hold the Fitzgerald association in terribly high regard. “He probably wrote the story for drinking money,” he says.
We moved on to (a) digital photography and the revolutionary qualities that after-dusk images now possess; (b) a reported tendency on his part to ask certain actors (or at least Zodiac costar Jake Gyllenhaal) to perform numerous takes of a given scene until it’s right; (c) the bizarre cuts that were made to Zodiac due to test-screening reactions (like the 45-second black-screen time-passage sequence), (d) the fact that Zodiac is currently listed as the 4th best film of ’07 on the Movie City News critics’ chart (even though this liking hasn’t translated to any Best Picture awards), and so on.

The money quote comes right at the beginning when Fincher asks me, “Where do I send the check?” Again, the interview in all of its raging 49-minute glory.