Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Curious Benjamin Button

More than halfway through The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Cate Blanchett turns to Brad Pitt and says: "Look at you. You're perfect!"
And indeed he is.
But in this sprawling new film it takes a long, long time for Brad Pitt to get that way.
And that's part of the unusual story of Benjamin Button - the "curious case" part.
As we watched an exclusive advance showing of this film last night we were reminded that the greatest stories always come from the South. And Benjamin Button is no exception. Though the film roams the world it is set primarily in New Orleans and it covers the period from the World War I up to Hurricane Katrina. The film is a joy to watch. And ,with so many lilting southern accents and great music it's a joy to listen to as well.
Yes, this may in fact be the first time that Hollywood has actually made a successful film based on the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The performances by Blanchett, Pitt and Taraji P. Henson are excellent. Henson, in particular, is stellar. But then again even the secondary performances are great. And the adapted screenplay by Eric Roth combines beautifully with David Fincher's exacting direction. On top of that the cinematography, costumes, sets and makeup are also superb.
What's to compare? Well, Benjamin Button is much like Forrest Gump. And Pitt is almost as much Button as Hanks was Gump. Still, Button lacks the distinctly American flavor of Gump and one longs for a bit more sentimentality in Benjamin Button.
But that's hardly a significant complaint.
Benjamin Button is a Major Motion Picture with lots of Oscar buzz. In fact, this film could garner as many as 11 Oscar nominations, if not more.
But I must warn you: Though it tells a highly unusual story this film is an old-fashioned Hollywood narrative complete with flashbacks. subplots and periodic narration. And for a movie that's based on a short story it's surprisingly long. So, if you're going to watch those incredible movie stars who are the beautiful Cate Blanchett and the perfect Brad Pitt, please be patient. You're going to be in the theater for quite awhile.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button opens nationwide on Christmas Day.

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