Amazon Holiday

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

(Guest Review by Russ)

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: A fantastical tale about the life of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) who is born in the body of an 80 year-old man and ages backwards.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, Taraji Henson, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Edith Ivey

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketGo! It’s a big, rich sprawling Hollywood movie with big Hollywood movie stars that connects nicely to themes of aging, but mainly to life. It all could have been a sappy, sentimental mess, but fortunately it’s a mostly grounded and engrossing journey about one man’s unusual life and how we all connect to the same base things in life no matter our circumstances. It reinforces how in many ways, we are the sum of all the people we meet throughout our lives, and how we become defined by those experiences and by how those people view us.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: There are a few ‘smiling on the inside’ moments, but it’s not a yuk-fest.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: Very likely. This movie covers a lot of tear-jerking ground, so be prepared.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: It’s already nominated for 5 Golden Globes including Best Picture, and it won the National Board of Review for Best Director and Best Screenplay, so it's not hard to predict that multiple Oscar nominations are in its future.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: Our standards are high for actors like Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton and none of them disappoint. Pitt is astonishingly effective early in the film when his make-up applied 70 year-old face is put on the body of some other actor. He conveys so much with both his voice and eyes that you will completely forget you’re watching some of the most amazing visual-effects ever put on film. And then when you realize he’s portraying the mental age of 10 as a 70 year-old, your head might explode. It’s a heartbreaking and funny performance and Pitt has rarely been better. Since the film is something of a travelogue, it’s filled with many talented actors in smaller parts, but it all adds up to a great cast and amazing work by all.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: David Fincher has segued from serial killers (Se7en, Zodiac) into uncharted territory (for him) wonderfully. His visual style and attention to detail serve a story like this – one that spans decades – perfectly. Nothing is flashy, but it all has a rich sense of setting and his directing never gets in the way of Benjamin’s story. His staging of a WW-II event involving a tugboat and submarine is simply stunning.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: Screenwriter Eric Roth also adapted Forest Gump and in a structural sense there are some similarities here, but ultimately Benjamin Button is a very different movie. This film isn’t very plot-driven but Benjamin’s life holds a lot of surprises that keep it entertaining and for the most part it never really drags, even at 2.5 hours.

Q: Is there anything else worth mentioning about the movie?

A: For a story that spans so much time (80 years) and uses the premise of a character aging backwards, it would be hard for the make-up effects to not be one of the film’s stars. It’s a brilliant fusion of practically applied make-up and visual effects, and it’s all seamless. Half the fun is seeing this man age (backwards and forwards), and the other half is seeing the other characters' reactions to Benjamin as he grows younger through the years. Every time Daisy (Cate Blanchett) puts a hand to her mouth in astonishment when seeing him after a few years away, you will too.

Q: Where can I see the trailer?


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Farzan said...

Good review, Im very very curious to see this film. I think Fincher is a well crafted director who knows how to make compelling films with interesting stories. Plus, im anxious to see Pitt's perfromance.

Seek said...

I really enjoyed this last night. I got pulled out of the magic a bit though, each time another Forrest Gump moment or similarity arrested my critical mind... It was amazing visually overall, and the make up/fx incredible. I really liked the story and didn't mind that it was 2.5 hours. I have watched Forrest Gump over a dozen times, so I know I would have been more enchanted if Roth had not ridden Forrest's coat tails so much. I guess he made up for not getting Forrest Gump 2 made. (he sent out that script on 9/11 and quickly realized Gump 2's insignificance at that point)

Definitely cinemagic.