Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
David Fincher directs this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic tale set in the early 20th century that follows Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt), a man who was born in his 80s and continually grows younger. The story throws linear conventions upside down to explore love, loss and memories from the perspective of a character living under incredibly unique -- and unexpectedly difficult -- circumstances. Cate Blanchett co-stars in this Oscar nominee for Best Picture.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Well, as like all the other theatre films I have watched recently, my mother paid. So it cost me nothing, but it cost her $8.50x2.

And what did I think?
Halfway through watching this film I thought to myself, "this is absolutely perfect." Without having read the short story I was certain that the screenplay adhered to his story perfectly because it so accurately captured the feel of Fitzgerald's writing style. He is beautifully flowery, and dreamlike, and wonderful. So, I was absolutely shocked when I consulted wikipedia after I got back from the movie to learn that other than the backwards ageing there are pretty much no commonalities between the film and the short story.

Well, here I proclaim for everyone to see, KUDOS. Kudos to Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, the writers and screenwriters. Kudos to cinematographer Claudio Miranda. Kudos to art directors Kelly Curley and Tom Reta. It had the absolute feel of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was shocked to learn it was supposed to take place in Baltimore, MD. The second I head the southern accents I was sure that Fitzgerald had picked a southern city. The little cut aways to show black and white flashbacks in the style of the Smashing Pumpkin's "Tonight, Tonight" video--that sort of spacey 1920's feel--I was positive that Fitzgerald wrote those in. It was an inspired choice to add those. Everything that the art director, and cinematographer, and writers chose was like they were channeling Fitzgerald. I simply cannot comprehend that the film deviated so much from the book!! I cannot fathom it.

And I think that is what I found so stunning and perfect about the movie. Because, when I think about it, I suppose it is a little trite. Perhaps I would feel this excited if I had seen Forrest Gump in the theatre when it was released. I think, one of the reviews I found in wikipedia sums up my concern. They say,
Ashley Scrace from the Sheffield Star noted that: "It is a good film, but one of contradictions, some of which are far beyond the story of young versus old. It is surprising yet clichéd; sad yet hollow; visually impressive yet ordinary." He goes on to add "I just hope this year’s Oscars do not follow a tired formula: biggest budget, plus biggest stars, equals biggest awards."
And I agree. I mean, its sweeping in scope, and time, and place. And that seems to be something that people accept as a successful formula. And, yes, the visual effects were amazing. Astounding. I have no idea how they put Brad Pitt's face on a puppet-like oldman body. It looked like a puppet. I bet it was...

For me, it wasn't what the film was saying as much as the way they said it. The story with the clock going backwards was so perfect that I just knew it was Fitzgerald's (which it wasn't). Setting the story in New Orleans, with the backdrop of Hurrican Katrina, was perfect. The flooding from the storm enabled the story to end up wrapped in a neat package. Man, it was just perfect.

I think Benjamin Button was better than Slumdog Millionaire. But, I see that it is typical. However, Slumdog Millionaire's happy ending was more typical than Benjamin Button.

Maybe I am still just grumpy that Gran Torino wasn't gd nominated.

P.S. Brad Pitt is retardedly attractive. Really, he is so good looking it is stupid. Jesus god up in heaven. I swear.
So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Ok, now as I have been writing this I realize what I think was perfect about this film. Maybe it wasn't the whole film itself, though I enjoyed it a lot. What was perfect about this film was that it so accurately encapsulated F. Scott Fitzgerald--who I think is one of the most beautiful writers of the 20th century.

But, as I have shown on this little movie blog, I don't give 10s to just extraordinary movies. I give 10s to movies that are 10s to me.

So, 10.

1 comment:

capewood said...

I was hoping you'd get around to reviewing this. I liked it quite a lot as well.