Sunday, January 04, 2009

Benjamin Button

I was going to re-title "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" "Forrest Gump Revisited" after my friend Bruce's comment that the new release starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett reminded him of that classic. Well, turns out "Button" is the son of Forrest; the screen plays written by the same person. Both films feature a child-like hero making their way through a scary, changing world with real historical events as a stage. In this film, Benjamin, born on WWI Armistice Day, lives through the depression in an old folks boarding house, gets involved WWII, post war Paris, the cruising 50's the hippy 60s, finds his nirvana in India and even, through the narrator, Hurricane Katrina.

Button is born backwards; at birth he is the size of an infant but with all the physical frailty of an old man, fated to grow younger not older. He meets a young girl, Daisy (Blanchett), falls in love and soon realizes their lives will intersect only for a brief moment in the future. The story unfolds on the screen as it is read by Daisy's daughter as Daisy lays dying in a hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches New Orleans.

Fascinating premise played out in an overly long, detached film. Like the clock that inspires the whole convoluted tale, this is a love story based on inevitability and precise timing, not passion. I lost interest about 1/2 way through, basically when the real Brad Pitt (the strange man-child was basically some sophisticated computer work using real actors) emerges to portray a 20 something Button. If it had been a DVD, I would have switched to the weather channel, which is much less predictable and maybe caught a real Katrina.

Lot of Oscar talk is swirling around "Benjamin Button". If it wins, it is because the Academy still does not have the balls to give best film to a gay flick ("Milk", I saw that one too and will review it soon)and thus will settle on a safe epic.

Some fine moments, but not Oscar worthy.

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