THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (A+)
This review will not be difficult to write at all. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was tremendous achievement in cinema history, and that's pretty much all that needs to be said. But in light of writing a movie review, I'll say a lot more. The film is almost three hours long, but I savored every second of it. There is a reason that Button was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, the same observation I made after viewing Frost/Nixon. Both these films are products of experienced top tier filmmakers and their recognition is well deserved. Oh yeah... my thoughts on Cate Blanchett? If you guessed have my children, you are correct.
The opening credit of the film is even incredible. A mass of falling buttons cascade down and form the Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers trademarks while an orchestra of musicians can be heard tuning their instruments before a performance. The chorus of instruments gives the feel of something incredible to come, like a performance from a symphony or this marvelous film.
Let me start with one of the very best aspects of this film, the direction by David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, The Game). He was nominated for Best Director for this project because the direction is top notch. There are so many beautiful and sometimes breathtaking scenes throughout this entire film it would be a chore to narrow a list of favorites. Fincher has been know for his dark mood and lighting throughout his films, and this masterpiece is no different. The great thing about the directing and editing is how everything the viewer sees has a specific purpose to the story and all three hours are important to tell this remarkable tale. Fincher should win Best Director for this film at this months Academy Awards.
Eric Roth wrote the screenplay for this movie with assistance from Robin Swicord. The two adapted the screenplay off the short story composed by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Roth has brought magic to the screen before with works like: Forrest Gump (which he won an Oscar for), The Insider, and Munich. Roth's overall body of work is very good as you can tell. Like Forrest Gump, the narrative in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not only drawn out marvelously, but is assisted by the emotion filled narration from Brad Pitt. Roth's adapted screenplay is one of the best I have seen for years which makes this movie worth watching over and over.
The story surrounding The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about a baby born with all the problems of an old dying person but ages backwards to youth. As a baby he is abandon by his father just after his mother dies in childbirth. He is taken in by a young black woman named Queenie running a retirement home. Queenie becomes the baby's surrogate mother, and names him Benjamin. Taraji P. Henson (Smokin' Aces) plays Queenie in this film, and believe it or not is also nominated for an Academy Award.
As Benjamin ages, or reverse ages I should say, the audience sees him grow younger. He begins to work on a tugboat, for a man named Captain Mike. This supporting character Mike has to be my favorite in the movie. He is Benjamin's first real friend outside the retirement home and influences Benjamin to never hold a grudge in life. He also helps Benjamin realize the benefits of working for a living by bringing him to a brothel to "have fun" with whores. After years growing up in the retirement home, Benjamin decides to leave the familiarity of New Orlenas to see the world working with the tugboat crew.
Benjamin Button was played by some no name actor, Brad Pitt or something like that. Brad Pitt (Snatch) proved once again he is not only *man pretty*, but that he is one of the best actors in the game. Benjamin Button's best friend Daisy is played by the gorgeous Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings). The two meet when Benjamin is very old, and Daisy is very young. As time goes on they age in different directions, and go their separate ways. Benjamin off to see the world, Daisy to dance school in New York. The distance between the two makes for some of the better parts of Benjamin Button. Despite the separation, the audience watches these two remarkable characters rekindle their relationship through different stages of their lives.
*man pretty* denotes the ability to marry Angelina Jolie
This film challenged both of these actors because of the aging aspects to the film. The two actors had to play older and younger versions of themselves, which obviously is a challenge. The producers of the film allowed both actors to be involved in as much of this project as possible leading to the wonderful special effects. This involved a special camera system and special facial prosthetics to make the actors appear to age seamlessly with the characters. The special effects are so subtle but amazing that it works perfectly with the story.
The music in the film is wonderful as well. The reoccurring melodies help set up many of the visually pleasing scenes, and provide emotion to each one. The score for the film was composed by the great Alexandre Desplat. His music always fits the mood and tone of the pictures and makes each scene so much more powerful without a word spoken. The soundtrack for this movie is one of my personal favorites.
Benjamin Button has parallelism and underlying themes and can keep viewers thinking about this film for hours. Not to mention Cate Blachett, keeping me thinking about her for hours. The repetition of such lines like "nothing lasts forever," or "nobody stays perfect forever," help tie all parts of the film together. This dialogue is in direct reference of the later stages of the movie when Daisy grows older and Benjamin grows younger. Not to mention the funny reoccurring line, "Did I ever tell you I've been struck by lightning 7 times??" You'll understand that line when you see the movie.
All the characters Benjamin crosses paths within his life are compelling and help Benjamin learn something about the meaning of life. These characters are not only themselves interesting to watch, but give Benjamin's character more depth as well. The person Benjamin grows up to be is in direct relation to the characters he brushes shoulders with; it is interesting to see the filmmakers bring this to life within Benjamin's story.
Overall, this film was perfect in so many aspects I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. The writing, the acting, the cinematography, the direction, the lighting, the music, the hardly noticeable computer enhancements, all these elements were all products of perfection. Ten out of ten would be a nice way to put it, but the theme of the review is Oscar nominations. Thirteen of them to be exact. So I'll go with thirteen out of thirteen then. There is not a moment in this film not worth watching.
The only viewers that would not enjoy this film would be someone that doesn't give the story a chance to grow, or because they love crappy cinema like Push... or Meet the Spartans. So if you have a cognitive brain in your head, this film should float your boat like the friggin' ocean.
Goodnight Benjamin....Goodnight Daisy.