Every year at Telluride, they do three tributes; this year's honorees are directors David Fincher and Jan Troell and veteran actress Jean Simmons. Last year at Telluride, as you may recall, they showed a 20-minute sneak of the hotly anticipated There Will Be Blood at the end of the Daniel Day-Lewis tribute. This year, with Fincher being honored, buzz abounded that we'd get a sneak peek at his newest film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
There's been a lot of, well, curiousity about this film, which is based on a 1922 F. Scott Fitzgerald short story about a man who ages backwards, and anytime a short story is adapted into a full length film, there's always the question of whether the storyline will stretch to fill the length of a feature film. But having a director like Fincher at the helm and talent like Pitt and Blanchett in the lead roles has been enough to make the project sound interesting.
Fincher talked a bit about the process of getting the film made, which he said took nearly ten years; at one point Spike Jonze was tapped to direct, but then he pulled off the project. Paramount was tentatively going to make the film some years ago, then got cold feet over the cost; Fincher said it was finally dusted off by Brad Grey, who wanted a Brad Pitt project. When the question came up of how they were going to pull off the effects of an infant born as an old man, who grows physically younger every year, Fincher said he called on his years of experience working for George Lucas at Industrial Light and Magic and answered nonchalantly, "Don't worry, we'll figure that out."
So, what we saw tonight was about 20 minutes of "scenelets" from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button-- short clips that weren't so much full scenes as they were bits and pieces strung together to give the audience an idea of what the film's about. Imagine, if you will, trying to get the gist of a novel from having random sentences from it typed out on a page for you, and you kind of have the idea. That said, the special and makeup effects looked good, and the story looks interesting, but will it have the power of Zodiac, Fight Club or Se7en?
The 20 minutes we saw of TWBB last year (which, if memory serves, was the first 20 minutes of the second reel) was enough to fill the Sheridan Opera House with a buzz of excitement and made most of us want to see the entire film immediately. The 20 or so minutes of Benjamin Button, on the other hand, gave an idea of what the film will be, but wasn't so compelling that it energized the room. That said, though, I have considerable faith in Fincher's talent as a director, and Pitt and Blanchett are two of my favorite actors, so if anything, having seen the clips, I'm that much more intrigued to see how Fincher pulls all those bits and pieces into a coherent storyline.
Coming up from Telluride: Reviews of two highly buzzed films: Happy-Go-Lucky and I've Loved You So Long.