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Jan 8, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I don't feel much like writing a full review for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Can you blame me? While overall it finished on the "enjoyable" side of the fence, it's been my "most looked forward to" film for the past two years. Considering that what we ended up getting was (yep, as you've read and/or said 15 times by now) a post-millennial Forrest Gump/updated version of Big Fish...I'd say it's the biggest disappointment of the year. Then again, perhaps my sights were set a bit too high.

Here are some random thoughts and comments, though:

* Going along with the Gump comparison, let's get this out of the way, too: it's a good 15 minutes too long. I've had it with you (director) people and your epics.

* Gorgeous film from start to finish.

* Spoiler: I'm still pissed that Benjamin didn't stay adult-sized as he "aged" and became child-like. I felt that since he was born a regular infant size, he should die a regular adult size, only with child-like features. That would have been truly weird looking. End spoiler.

* While I don't feel Ben should be nominated for Best Picture, it wouldn't surprise me at all to find it amongst the leaders in overall nominations, with possible noms coming for Direction, Art Direction, Score, Visual Effects, Cinematography, Makeup, and a few possibilities in the Acting categories, from Taraji P. Henson for Supporting Actress (a lock, methinks) to Cate Blanchett for Best Actress (possible, not likely) to Brad Pitt (more possible, less deserving).

* Yea, I said less deserving for Brad. Don't get me wrong - he's no slouch (and he's amongst my favorite actors), but giving him a nomination would be like nominating Lieutenant Dan's missing legs in Gump - Pitt's role was almost entirely composed of makeup/effects, with him reacting to situations more than acting in them.

* After the first 10 minutes, I thought I was in the wrong movie - this wasn't Benjamin Button, it was This is Your Life, Brad Pitt. There was a nonstop who's who of former Pitt co-stars, from his lover in his breakout film Legends of the Fall (Julia Ormond) to his Snatch mate Jason Flemyng, not to mention his Babel wife Blanchett. Later on, even Burn After Reading co-star (though I don't recall them sharing any scenes) Tilda Swinton popped up. Am I missing anyone?

...Yes I am. On a whim, I looked up Pitt and Elias Koteas together. Koteas has a small role in a flashback story told in Button. The actors share no scenes, but...of course, they each appeared in a 1992 short film titled Contact. Weird.

Egads, it won't (and I can't) stop! Even Jared Harris, who plays Captain Mike in Button - a pivotal role - shares another credit with Pitt. They each appeared in Ocean's Twelve. I have to stop, this is getting insane. Suffice it to say, Pitt shares at least one credit with every goddamn person involved with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Curious indeed...

* Finally, it was a race against the clock (amongst other things) as Mrs. Fletch and I headed towards the theater to see Button. As we pulled near the parking lot on Sunday evening, we spotted what appeared to be some sort of police escort. Odd, them headed into a theater lot; there aren't normally funerals held there, and we weren't aware of any big political figures that might have been in town. Getting closer, we saw what the cops were tailing: two Coach buses. Turns out, after a day filled with practice no doubt, the University of Texas coaches decided that the Longhorns deserved a break prior to their Fiesta Bowl appearance the next night.

Despite our racing, we purchased our tickets and walked through the doors just as the entire football team, in warm ups and all, headed through the doors as well. The two of us were literally surrounded by giants, and though we didn't know it at the time, perhaps we got to feel a bit like Benjamin Button himself for a few seconds - out of place and the wrong size in the crazy world around us.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

11 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

nick plowman said...

While we don't agree on everything here, your review is certainly insightful - and I never knew all that about Pitt's "Button" co-stars, lol.

Daniel Getahun said...

Haha, yeah this is definitely one of the more eye-opening reviews of BB that I've read. I was clueless about the co-stars as well. That's crazy.

I'd argue with you over Pitt if I thought he was actually going to win. He had to do a lot of reacting, yes, but I thought he did so very impressively. I'd throw him a nod but not the win. Same with Blanchett.

Agreed, it was a touch long, but didn't bother me as much as something like Australia.

And definitely agree about the body thing as he ages. That would have been really weird to see, but they could have done it - I think.

Dead Pan said...

I also would say, in regards to how his body is small, like a baby, in the end, he still should have been able to talk. When he was born an old man he had the thoughts and speech patterns of a baby. Then as a child when he got dementia and such that worked, but as a baby he simply was a baby. That doesn't exactly work with everything else. Although, if the film was good in other areas I could really look this detail over completely.

Nick said...

I read that in the original short story/novella/whatever that he wasn't born a wrinkly old man-baby... but he was actually born a crotchety old man... literally. Not a baby-thing. So in that essence, dying as a baby at the end makes more sense.

Oh, and nice catch with the co-stars thing. I didn't notice that, either.

Daniel Getahun said...

Right, Nick. I Wikipedia'd it and you're right. He is born a man and dies a baby. So in that sense the movie is somewhat faithful to the story, but reading through the other parts of the plot it becomes clear that the book tells a completely different story (and I would argue a more interesting one) about his life. Still, I liked the movie.

Dead Pan said...

I know it's cliche, and I really don't always say this, but the short story needs to be read. It is a masterpiece, while this film...ehh not so much.

Fletch said...

Thanks, Nick! As for the Pitt costar thing, I picked up on the Ormond and Flemyng connection right away, but ironically I had forgotten about Babel until I was writing this. I looked up a lot of the others after awhile, as it was getting ridiculous.

Daniel, I'd agree with that first part - he doesn't stand a shot in hell at winning. As for his performance, I'm certainly not demeaning him, but it struck me as I was watching just how much of his performance was made up for watching others. Not that a ton of dialogue is necessary for a good performance, but he seemed to say so little and emote even less. More the nature of the role than a strike against him.

I'm certainly intrigued by the short story. I'm guessing the reaction to someone born as an adult would be even stronger than that of a wrinkled baby...

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Anil Usumezbas said...

Hi. I'm Angelica. I am looking for friends for link exchange... and maybe more? Below is my website:


Just kidding. But this is what you get for scolding people who use word verification. I hope you have learned your lesson this time.

"Considering that what we ended up getting was (yep, as you've read and/or said 15 times by now) a post-millennial Forrest Gump/updated version of Big Fish...I'd say it's the biggest disappointment of the year."

Spot on! I'm afraid I hated the film for what it turned out to be, and I was as eager as you were for the past couple of months.

Unfortunately, I am confident that it will receive a lot of nominations in both major and minor categories; and will even score in most of them. The year has been pretty weak and the strongest films are the kinds that are frequently ignored by the Academy.

Loved your poetic finish to your article.

Fletch said...

Wow, Anil - you've either got quite the memory or I touched a nerve with my bitching about word verification. ;)

Yeah, I get my fair share of spam commenters, but it typically doesn't get too bad. But I'm thinking of you, the fine REAL commenter and your valuable time! Or something like that.

I think Button will perhaps win some of the more technical awards (Visual Effects, Makeup, even Cinematography), but I can't see it taking any of the major ones.

Thanks for the compliment on the ending...and great to see you back in the blogosphere! Time to re-subscribe to The Long Take!

coffee said...

Cate Blanchett with a southern accent FTW; but Benjamin Button kept dragging on, always pausing dramatically on Brad Pitt's face, a lot like Meet Joe Black, FTL