Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Year 2, Day 60 - 3/1/10 - Movie #425

BEFORE: The last film was about someone with a genetic time-based anomaly, so that sort of leads me to this one, about a man who ages backwards.

THE PLOT: Tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences.

AFTER: See, it feels good to get ready for Oscar season - I've got a good feeling about Brad Pitt being nominated for Best Actor... Huh? What's that? The nomination was for last year's Oscars? Damn, well it turns out this won awards for art direction, make-up and visual effects...

My first reaction is that this film was much too long, clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes. Surely some of this new-fangled "editing" process could have been applied? I mean, his life seemed interesting, but did we as the audience have to witness every single minute of it? This was based on a SHORT story by F. Scott Fitzgerald - so with all the additions, this is much more than the original author ever intended.

My second reaction, as a codicil to point #1, is that this film takes much to long to get to the "message", and once it does, the pay-off isn't worth the effort. Again, I'm treating this film as an analogy, since people can't actually age backwards - so we learn that people often turn their back on love for a variety of reasons, and end up wishing they had spent more time with their loved ones. I think even the message of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", which was "Be excellent to each other!" carried more weight.

Finally, let's look at this aging-backwards thing. On one level, you might think it's no more or less ridiculous than a man who jumps through time - but a baby who's born old, with cataracts and hardened bones and joints? Maybe, but then how does he grow to be a full-sized senior citizen so darn fast? Now we're not just defying the rules of time, but the rules of matter - entropy dictates that all matter in the universe decays rather than rejuvenates. And you might have heard that immediately after people are born, they (or their cells, to be specific) start to die. So how can Benjamin Button be getting not just younger, but healthier?

Then we've got a storyline that unfortunately bears too much resemblance to "Forrest Gump", except transferred to the first half of the 20th Century, instead of the 2nd. There's growing up in the south, an adventure on a boat (marine salvage, not catching shrimps), interaction with some colorful historic characters, war, love, loss, and a lot of folksy wisdom...

Not a complete waste of my time, but I was still left scratching my head, wondering what the point was, and what all the fuss was about. There's also a story-within-a-story about a clockmaker, and I really didn't understand the implied connection between the two stories.

Also starring Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Elias Kotseas, Julia Ormond, and a bunch of people who played Benjamin who weren't Brad Pitt - so what's up with THAT? Couldn't they age Brad Pitt with make-up or visual FX? Casting other actors seems like a bit of a cheat...

RATING: 6 out of 10 wheelchairs

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