I spoke to David Fincher via telephone this weekend about his upcoming Zodiac. Calling from New Orleans, where he's currently filming his next movie, Fincher talked about how he managed to get a major studio to finance Zodiac, despite its unconventional nature and unusually long (for a thriller) running time.
Fincher, of course, is already famous for having directed one of the most subversive films to ever come from a Hollywood studio. But he says he never felt like he was getting away with something similar with Zodiac, since everyone involved knew what they were getting into from the moment they read James Vanderbilt's script.
"I don’t think anybody made this movie in spite of their instincts," Fincher said. "I think they made it because of their instincts. People spent [money] to make this movie because they believed in the story, because it's a gripping yarn and because they believed there was something at the end of it. Although I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would have rather seen it at two hours and seven minutes."
Fincher says Zodiac's two-hour-and-45-minute running time was the result of the extensive research that went into the project, which was made with the cooperation of many of the surviving victims and investigators of the Zodiac killer.
"We tried to make the movie as short as we could," Fincher said. "But we also made promises to people that we were going to tell their story and they would not be turned into plot devices - Nameless Victim Number One. And whenever possible, we tried to make good on those promises.
"My goal from the beginning was to make a scary movie that would have the same effect on the audience [the real-life case] had on me. But I didn't want to pander and I didn't want the movie to be salacious. It's not just a Friday night at a scary movie."
The rest of my interview with Fincher will run closer to Zodiac's March 2 release. You can check out some clips from the movie here.
Saturday Feb. 10
Stranger Than Fiction (2006): Will Ferrell is surprisingly good in what is essentially a dramatic performance trapped inside a comedy, although I liked Dustin Hoffman's supporting turn as an eccentric literature professor even more. Doesn't quite overcome the aura of a Charlie Kaufman rip-off, but its transparently schematic nature is never annoying. Too bad the script loses its nerve in the last five minutes, though.
Sunday Feb. 11
* Reservoir Dogs (1992): Hadn't watched this one all the way through in seven or eight years. Still arguably Tarantino's best movie overall (although Jackie Brown gets better every time I watch it). The DVD contains some deleted scenes that include alternate takes of the infamous ear scene that are much bloodier and graphic, yet not nearly as disturbing as the one Tarantino ended up using.