Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I wrote a twitter about this movie, but I wanted to expand a little more.

Sarah and I went and saw this film yesterday, and I don't think I've ever been affected like I was by this film.  I'm the type of person who is rarely moved by a movie or tv show.  My wife jokes that I have a stone heart.  I just am not an emotional person - competitive, yes; emotional - not so much, especially with film.  I've seen a lot of movies, both good and bad and the stories have been told - for the most part - many times before.  Some tell it better than others, but for the most part, it's rare a story takes you by surprise.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of those surprises.

Sure, we all know it's based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald story about the life of a man who is born old and dies young.  Interesting...not too many stories like that.  My interest was piqued when I heard about the story.  Then I read an interview where Brad Pitt talked about Eric Roth's treatment of the story being summed up in "youth is wasted on the young".  Okay, my interest is even more piqued.

When I put together that David Fincher (director of 3 of my favorite films - Se7en, Fight Club and The Game) directed the film and Eric Roth (screenwriter of Forrest Gump) had written the screenplay, my excitement grew for the film.  It was looking like it could have the makings of a great film.  Plus Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett (as well as Julia Ormond) are not too shabby as actors.

But, we've all seen the films that looked like they had EVERYTHING going for them that fell flat on their face (Gigli anyone?)  Well, earlier in this post and with my twitter, I've probably given away how I thought it worked out.

First off,  David Fincher has created a beautiful film.  Every scene is perfectly lit and perfectly shot.  Each filter of light, each scene is perfectly staged and every piece of this film fits.  But plenty of films are beautiful to look at but fail in other ways.  

The actors are incredible.  I don't know that I've ever seen Brad Pitt act this well since maybe the mid-90s.  He is subtle, funny, overt when he needs to be and always seems to catch the motivation for each scene.  Cate Blanchett is, well, always great...I don't know that I've ever seen a film of hers that I didn't think she was fantastic in.  The film used a new brand of special effects with this film instead of makeup to make the actors look both young and old.  So when you see Cate Blanchett as an old lady, it is actually her, not an old lady playing Cate Blanchett.   When Brad Pitt is an old man stuck in the body of a child, it is actually Brad Pitt not a child playing Brad Pitt.  And it is convincing.

Ultimately, though all those other things are great, it's the script that wins here.  Eric Roth created a script that is reminiscent of Forrest Gump (the story is told from the present time, narrated by the main character and is split up into vignettes where sections of the story are told)  The script is filled with great characters, each one with a convincing backstory and enough time on screen to make a splash - from the tug boat captain that hires a young (stuck in an old body) Benjamin to his first job to the father that gives up Benjamin as a baby only to return to his life later on to the first real love of Benjamin's life (a woman he meets during his time in Russia).  

The story is well-told, the script is tight (even though the film is close to 3 hours) and it is entirely effective.  I had tears several times through the film and when I left the theater, it took a good 20 min for me to gain complete control of my emotions.  The movie is that good.   I've mulled over scenes again and again.  

I can tell you whole-heartedly to see this movie.  

4.9 out of 5 stars

32 comments:

risalea said...

I've only heard from person who didn't like this movie, and many more who echoed your sentiments that it was one of the best movies they'd ever seen. I haven't made it to the theater yet to see this, but it is definitely on my list. Thanks for the review.

And once again, in promoting Chris's NLR concert on Jan. 17th, go to www.jlnlr.org for info and tickets.

rosalee said...

Happy New Year, Chris.

The movie trailer:

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2171469849/

risalea said...

Dang it, I've got to start proofreading...that's supposed to say I've only heard from one person who didn't like the movie.

Time for bed, I think! : )

EmilyBoo said...

Speaking of twitter, it's not on the blog anymore, is it?

When I first saw commercials for this movie, I thought it was a rip-off of a book I had read a couple years ago, "The Confessions of Max Tivoli," or that they had used the story, but changed the character's name for some reason. But after I looked into it, I found that perhaps the book I read is based on this story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I'll have to find myself a copy of the original short story.

I look forward to seeing the movie.

jgons said...

agreed. loved the film. one of the best i've seen in years. 2008 was a great year in film.

DJ in AL said...

Chris,

I have heard only positive so far, a must see movie. I also heard a box of tissues is mandatory.

Thanks for your insight.

Amy's Purple Poodles said...

Chris,
I haven't even heard of this movie. If its like Forrest Gump it should be good. I'll have to try and see it.

Bully said...

I really love a heartfelt, honest recounting-- Thanks for sharing that!
I have not wanted to see this movie, but with your sentiments added to what I have heard? and approximating it's appeal to ForrestGump?(which I also originally pushed off) I think I might really enjoy it.:-)

The last one I felt excited about after I saw it, was Cloverfield. However, seeing it after the 911 anniversary on cable may have really added to it's appeal. I admired the creativity in telling it, alot.

Bully said...

PS. We who are unabashedly feeling appreciate your efforts to share!

Anonymous said...

EmilyBoo you can read the original short story here:

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/Fitzgerald/jazz/benjamin/benjamin1.htm

Anonymous said...

Sorry the rest of the link was cut off, here's the rest:

jamin/benjamin1.htm

risalea said...

Per the twitter, it made me laugh. I wonder if Jon's mother ever felt that way? LOL I found them on myspace...sounds like a neat group.

rosalee said...

I posted Rough Draft's "EP Recording Blog #1" video on the fansites, for those who want to see it.

Cathy Storms said...

I found them on myspace also. They are really good....

Cathy Storms said...

I'm done with treatment!! WhooHoo!!!
It's been a long amazing journey.
Now on to the next chapter..

One might ask, "So, what do you do now that treatment is over?"
You get ready to go to Arkansas to see the picnic girls and to see Chris and the boys put on a concert...Now that's a WhooHoo!!!
One more week.....

DJ in AL said...

Congratulations Cat!

Chris you ready for the picnic girls?

Ready or not, here we come!

Cathy Storms said...

Arkansas will never be the same....

Bully said...

Congratulations Cathy! :-D
I hope you feel good, and have a great trip ahead.

risalea said...

I am anxiously anticipating the arrival of my picnic gals (oh, yea and Chris! LOL) and can't wait for the fun weekend which is now just a week away. I'd appreciate you guys starting now, covering Chris, Jon, Clint, and Tommy in prayer, that they will have safe travels, as they are coming all night in the wee hours of the 17th from NC to get to AR by early afternoon. Pray for good weather and safe roads, as well as safe travel for DJ, Carmen and Cathy.

rosalee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosalee said...

Cathy -
Congratulations on the end of your treatments!

rosalee said...

"Arise: Making the Video" (video)is up on the fansites. That "dance choreographer" is really something! LOL

risalea said...

What a hoot! Is Chris having to look for new management now since his has crossed into a new line of work? : ) Made me laugh out loud.

risalea said...

Speaking of videos, I've been wondering about the fan video for "Empty Me". Were the submissions too bad to use? Never mind, don't answer that. : )

Cathy Storms said...

That is the funniest thing I've seen in a really long time. I was laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair.
I LOVED it!!!!
Great job Chris....

Cathy Storms said...

Thanks Rosalee for sharing this video with us....
I am still laughing....

rosalee said...

I just wonder how many inside jokes I missed....
Did everyone notice Bacon Boy and the other Logan Show associates?

Cathy Storms said...

Simon Richards.....Way to funny....

DJ in AL said...

Chris should have a contest to see how many hidden ironies, or jokes are in the video.

Geez, I love it, I seriously love it!

This guy continues to crack me up!

risalea said...

Benjamin Button....let me recommend you see this movie when you are in the proper frame of mind. It is incredibly sad, so be prepared for that. Cinematically beautiful, the acting is superb, sure to garner several Oscar nominations.

Jim said...

loved this movie. especially the last part- so touching.

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