the curious case of benjamin button

I know I've been complaining about my inability to get into the theaters lately, ad nauseum, but it really is my current greatest frustration. Seriously, I see a movie preview on TV and I almost cry. Well, the new guy in my life* must also be getting pretty sick of my whining, because he made sure we got to two** movies this weekend!

I've been waiting to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for about a year. That's when Entertainment Weekly started talking it up, probably just because of the crazy-ass concept. (It also didn't hurt that it costars my favorite actress, the sublime Cate Blanchett.) For those of you who don't know, here's the film's premise: for no apparent reason, the title character is born as an old man, who then ages in reverse for the rest of his life. So he's wrinkly and feeble for a few decades; then he's Brad Pitt-a-licious for a little while; then, inevitably, he turns into a kid and dies.

So the concept is crazy. And, I admit, that's what sucked me in. But what kept me sitting in that seat was the amazing love story between Benjamin and Daisy (Blanchett). I generally have a HUGE problem with most movies' portrayal of love. A lot of films, especially mainstream ones, completely get it wrong. Movie love tends to be trite, unrealistic, and, frankly, insulting to my intelligence. Not Benjamin Button; this film gets it right. The love between Benjamin and Daisy is real: it's rarely glamorous, and it's certainly imperfect, but it's solid, sweet, simple, and enduring.

I have to take issue with some reviews that have knocked Benjamin Button for its format. The story is a flashback, à la Bridges of Madison County, in which a dying mother relates the romance to her incredulous daughter. To add a bit more drama, the mother and daughter are in a New Orleans hospital in 2005 as Hurricane Katrina comes ashore. To be honest, I can't really see anything wrong with that. The bulk of the story takes place (or has its roots) in New Orleans, and Katrina was arguably among the most profound events in that city's history (along with the Civil War, I guess). Actually, the Katrina situation reinforces one of the main themes of the movie: nothing lasts forever, no matter how much we might want it to. And if you know anything about Brad Pitt, the boy's been neck-deep in Katrina charities for years, even moving his whole huge-ass family to live down in New Orleans. So what's the problem? I don't get it.

I do really recommend this movie. It was lovely. And it had me in tears towards the end. I think that actually surprised Nuevo Man a bit, but seriously--he's going to have to get used to that.

*Pistola calls him Nuevo Man, and I think that's as good a handle as any, though it does make him sound a bit like an archaeological find. "Nuevo Man walked upright but had weird dorsal fins." Kidding. Haven't found any dorsal fins... yet.

**We also saw Doubt, which I will do my best to review sometime this week. Really, I will.
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5 Response to "the curious case of benjamin button"

  1. valis says:
    January 14, 2009 at 6:21 PM

    I need to ad that the cinematography in this film kicked ass. Somewhere near the beginning there is a naked light bulb (in the frame) lighting a scene with B. Button between it and the audience and thus he is mostly in shadow. It looked effortless and beautiful. That scene and all the wonderful outdoor scenes (like the sunrise at Lake Pontchartrain) make this film the most beautiful to look at that I've seen in years.

  2. Fletch says:
    January 15, 2009 at 12:33 AM

    So glad to see you back blogging. I wasn't gonna give up on ya. Hope to see much more of you - I (and the LAMB) have missed you.

  3. Nayana Anthony says:
    January 15, 2009 at 10:02 AM

    Valis... interesting point about the cinematography. It reminds me that another recent Brad Pitt vehicle, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, also was noted for its stunning cinematography. Brad Pitt is known as an artistic type... do you think he might have some influence on the style of these movies?

    Fletch... thanks! I have also missed you, and the LAMB. It's really, REALLY hard with the two jobs, but I'm doing my best to hang on. :-)

  4. Clara Mathews says:
    January 18, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    I think Benjamin Button is one of the best films Brad Pitt has done. To play a elderly man with the innocence of a child and a young man with the wisdom of age. I liked the scene when Benjamin come back to see a much older Daisy, but he was the young and beautiful Brad we first saw in Thelma & Louise.

  5. Jenni says:
    February 5, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    Thanks for the good review! I"ve been intrigued by this one...wasn't sure I wanted to see it. Maybe now I will.

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