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Thoughts on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, January 19, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Full price for length, but otherwise, a matinee would be the better value. This film clocks in at nearly 3 hours, and while it is very good, it will eat up an entire night, so I would recommend an afternoon matinee.

Will I Own It On DVD: Probably. This movie has frequently amazing cinematography as well as fine acting, and the whole thing will look great on Blu-Ray.


1) "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" takes its idea from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and while it keeps the central conflict of a man born elderly and aging backwards, it takes a far different path from the original source in crafting a very fine project tackling themes of love, loss, connections and mortality.

2) The script was penned by the same screenwriter of "Forrest Gump," and it's impossible to ignore some of the parallels between the stories. The main cross-over lies in the decades-long relationship between a man's quest to be with a somewhat self-involved woman who only rarely recognizes his devotion (this was much more evident in 'Gump' as it plays out realistically in 'Button').

'Benjamin Button' handles this thread better than 'Gump,' which allows the relationship between Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to resonate more powerfully due in large part to Blanchett's character - Daisy - stepping outside of her own life affairs and into the relationship far more quickly than Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), who takes forever and day to stop acting like such an egomanical strumpet.

3)Brad Pitt gives an excellent performance in the film. It's easy to forget that he has considerable talent since his movie star status sometimes overrides it. In 'Benjamin Button,' Pitt turns in a remarkably restrained and elegant acting job. He wisely steps back from the abyss of sentimentality that could have drowned the movie if left to lesser hands (director David Fincher also keeps things away from that territory), and recedes into a quietly magnetic character who strongly anchors the entire project.



4) Cate Blanchett is Pitt's long-time love interest, and as always, she delivers a nuanced performance that is a perfect foil for Pitt. Her character changes considerably during the length of the running time, and Blanchett makes her truly multi-dimensional and emphatic while never losing or dulling the edge of the character.


5) I'm not generally that impressed by special effects, but those seen in 'Benjamin Button' were semi-amazing. Often effects wizardry can distract from the film, but here, they only enhance it as the make-up and digital work done to age both Pitt and Blanchett is simply phenomenal.



Overrall, 'Benjamin Button' is a superior product. It wrestles with big ideas amongst a sprawling story and has a cast that delivers in spades from the leads to the supporting players as nobody hits a false note.

The first hour is somewhat slow, but the pacing of the film provides a steady backdrop for many gorgeous shots, memorable vignettes and viewers are ultimately rewarded for sticking it out with a well-crafted fable that leaves a mark.

-BDS

20 comments

  1. Heff Says:
  2. I had a feeling "The Curious Case of Benjamin Butthole" would be good.

     
  3. Cate Blanchett looks to English.

     
  4. nobich Says:
  5. Thanks for the review. Maybe I'll go see this despite the name (which I hate). I know it's childish & stupid but if I don't like the name of a movie I have a hard time wanting to see it.

     
  6. JLee Says:
  7. You describes this very well and I did see the parallels between this and "Gump". I didn't find Blanchett's character self-absorbed however, but I think it showed her to be so in a certain period of her life (early 20s) and it's interesting to see her character mature and change as the movie progresses. I thought they had a great chemistry and it's good to see Pitt in a meaty role like this.

     
  8. Heff - You were right . . . it's a very solid movie that you should defniitely pick up on DISH one day.

    WhatIgot - She sheds the accent here, and I find her attractive (although not overly sexy for some reason).

    Nobich - I do the same thing with song titles, so I understand. Ha. In this case, you can chalk up the title to the source material versus them conjuring it up out of thin air, which may help make it easier to see. It's worth it.

    Jlee - I agree about Blanchett. I think they did a good job explaining that nearly everyone is selfish or self-absorbed in their early 20s . . . it makes sense to me. This was far better than 'Gump' where Jenny spends most of her life that way. Ha. They did have good chemistry, and after I got into the pacing, I really enjoyed the movie.

     
  9. Heff Says:
  10. I got my Feb 09 Playboy on Saturday as well. I'll see if I've got time to pop up a review sometime this week. Just curious, was Kendra on the cover of yours ?

     
  11. Boxer Says:
  12. It's on my list and now that things are returning to "normal" in my life, movies are at the top of the list of things I've missed. I'm not super crazy about 3 hour movies, but if it's necessary..I can handle them.

     
  13. Anonymous Says:
  14. Just for the record, Cate is Australian.
    Thanks for the great review, I'm definitely going to see it now.

     
  15. Heff - Same here . . . except for the cover - I got the least attratctive of the 3, and I can never remember her name. Review away.

    Boxer - Glad to hear it as a return to both normalcy and movies is always a nice thing in my book. I agree about the running time, which was a bit daunting and why it took me so long to see it as I had to carve out my schedule around it. It was worth it. It's not flat-out phenomenal, but it is very, very good for vast stretches.

    Anonymous - I know. Ha. Thanks for pointing it out as I should have set the record straight for accuracy, and regardless, I always find her to be top-notch. Finally, I would definitely recommend catching this one on the big screen as some of the shots are so vast that they will suffer when it comes to DVD.

     
  16. BostonPobble Says:
  17. Wow. Okay, you've sold me.

     
  18. Miss Ash Says:
  19. Nice review, I *gasp* have heard of this movie and even want to go and see it. Yay!!

     
  20. Bostonpobble - I don't want to oversell it . . . Ha. Seriously, I enjoyed the movie as well as the themes it explored. If the subject doesn't grab you, then it will likely be a painful three hours, but I would recommend it if you can settle in and let it wash over you, which sounds a lot cornier than I thought it would. :)

    Miss Ash - Wow. Now, that is cause for something noteworthy, and since the stars are aligned, go see it before something screws it up. Ha.

     
  21. Romany Angel Says:
  22. I love Cate Blanchett and not just because she's Australian. I think she is beautiful but not in the traditional sense but more than that she is a wonderful actress and always reminds me of the greats of the Golden era of Hollywood.

    Brad Pitt is fairly easy on the eye too and I haven't seen him in a movie in a donkey's age. Three hours though...sheesh. The big question is can I stay awake that long?

     
  23. Linda Says:
  24. This is a good one. Not only a gorgeous film, but probably Pitt's best dramatic work to date. I liked the way he captured the nuances of a boy when he was in an old man's body. Nice review.

     
  25. Haven't been to a movie since seeing Choke in October. That's just sad.

     
  26. Romany Angel - Good description of Blanchett, and I agree w/ your assesment. And I should start including a small rating concerning yr. ability to stay awake for the duration. Ha. I do recall when you mentioned that. I would say that you could do fine with renting it, and then you could break it up into segments if you got tired or bored.

    Linda - I agree, and you might be right about Pitt's best as nothing else comes immediately to mind as superior. Visually, I think Fincher & Michael Mann are my favorites working today.

    Native Minnow - I need to rent 'Choke' as Sam Rockwell is always pretty good. And you definitely need to see something as that's been a long dry spell & there's actually several that are currently worth catching.

     
  27. I always appreciate your wonderful an insightful reviews. I'm definitely going to see the movie. I'm even going to take your advice and go see a matinee.

     
  28. TrinabeingTrina - Thanks, and I think you'll be happy with a matinee as I like the price reduction and there are far worse ways to spend an afternoon. Besides, you've still got all night to work with afterwards.

     
  29. Oops. I lied to you. I did see Twilight in Dec, but you can understand how I would've forgotten about that, right?

     
  30. NativeMinnow - Understood. I hope that was a date movie. Ha.

     

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