In his 1.5 story about David Fincher‘s q & a the night before last at the Time Warner Center, conducted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Kent Jones, Variety‘s Sam Thielman did the standard cherry-picking of money quotes. But to me, the undercurrent was a lot more interesting.

Fincher, I sensed, was feeling somewhat chagrined by — or was certainly mindful of — the unpersuaded reactions to Button in some quarters. (Including those among the audience that night.) He spoke much more freely about the technical aspects of shooting Button than what he believed the film was basically about and/or was saying. Of course, no film director likes to spell out the themes of his/her latest film. Every artist believes that the audience should come to its own conclusions.

Fincher said at one point that Button was making the case that a life lived naturally — babyhood first, old age last — was the best way to go, even with all the pain and suffering and heartbreak. When he said this I thought to myself, “That’s a good observation to make, I like that.” But now that I’ve written it down and thought about it, I’m not sure it’s all that profound.

I think he was finally attracted to Benjamin Button because it wasn’t Se7en, Zodiac, Panic Room, Fight Club or The Game. It’s an artistic process movie — a stretching exercise he felt he needed to make, an intimate subject he wanted to explore and find his way through. And because of his Button experience, the next real David Fincher movie — Ness — will be all the better. That’s what I think, anyway.

I tried to take a non-flash photo of Fincher sitting on the stage with Jones, but a female usher stopped me before I had a chance to push the button.