Tuesday, December 02, 2008

7 Word Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Big Fish redux. Great effects. Molasses pace.

[editor's note: another seven words so you don't get confused]

Liked it more than those words imply.

[editor's note 2: if you need more than 14 words you can always click on the labels below...]



Anonymous said...

forgive me nat, my favorite blogger, but should i expect your negative review on cate blanchett's performance? say i am wrong. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ewww, "Big Fish" redux does *not* sound good.

Robert said...

This movie has never felt Oscary to me. I've never quite understood the "frontrunner" status it has enjoyed most of the year.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

Yes, I agree with Derek, "Big Fish" redux does not sound good at all. Sasha Stone and Kris Tapley seemed to love it though. I wonder if it will get into the Best Picture line-up because of it's budget and stars, and frankly there doesn't seem to be much competition in that category up to this point.


anon -- i have nothing negative to say about cate blanchett's performance other than that I don't really understand the Oscar hype. she's good but i highly doubt you'd be hearing any Oscar buzz if her name wasn't spelled c-a-t-e b-l-a-n-c-h-e-t-t

although i suppose there is the bait of acting under a lot of latex.

(my favorite in the show was Taraji)

Fox said...

Ewwww.... sounds bad. I was kind of expecting more of a Forrest Gump redux, but Big Fish makes since as well.

Natty R. said:

although i suppose there is the bait of acting under a lot of latex.

Yeah, well, The Gimp from Pulp Fiction thought the same thing and look where it got him!!!

The Pretentious Know it All said...

Ha! I love the comment about the spelling of the name.

If Cate gets an Oscar nom this year, I think it's safe to say that she's officially my generation's Meryl Streep...not sure how I feel about that.

She may be the first actress to pull an Ellen Burstyn at the Emmy's and get nominated for an Oscar for a fifteen-second performance.


i guess i should amend my comments to say that a nomination wouldn't surprise me now given who she is and the latex thing (oscar voters do tend to love that) but Kris's notion that she could win is completely shocking to me now that I've seen the movie.


or rather ... why when Kate Winslet will certainly be in the mix? I think Streep's third win is more likely than Blanchett's second.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, aren't you fed up of accusations of hating Cate Blanchett? Well, not accusations maybe, but there are many bloggers who are convinced that you dislike her.
Actually I've never seen any bad reviews on her performances here. I suppose "Notes on a scandal" don't count because you were just saying she was miscast in the role.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, please give us more than 7 words, its killing me!! I suppose you rate its chances at awards in the technical catergories, but not much else?

Anonymous said...

i have yet to see the film, nat, so i cannot really say i agree with you on the cate blanchett comment.

as for the movie itself, if it is being compared to "forrest gump", i am not thrilled at all. i didn't think that movie was terrific. however, i did like "big fish".

and going back to cate, i am just intrigued when you said that her nominations remind you of the emmys where the same actors are nominated year after year and that shouldn't be the case. let me go theoretical here. if meryl streep was nominated one year after the other for her exceptional performances, say in "The Bridges of Madison County", "Adaptation" "The Devil Wears Prada", "A Cry in the Dark", etc., would you feel the same?
i hope i am getting my point across clearly. i am sleepy.

Anonymous said...

oh nat, i love you dearly and i value your reviews more than any other writer's, but don't blame some of your readers for thinking that you have a LOT against cate blanchett. i am sensing it again here. it is actually the way you phrase your thoughts about her that gives you away. while you have the kindest words for nicole kidman, you can't seem to find the positive adjectives for cate. poor cate. she is actually one of this generation's best actresses, along with kate winslet and julianne moore, but she is just so maligned in your blog. poor, poor cate. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sasha Stone and Kris Tapley probably jack off while watching Elizabeth : the golden age

Billy D said...

7 words on your upcoming review of Rebecca:

Salivating wildly at the prospect of it.

Horrible grammar, but it fits :-)

PIPER said...

Yuck. I hated Big Fish. I'm hoping for better.

Yaseen Ali said...

People, Nathaniel gave Blanchett the Bronze medal for I'm Not There last year - can we please have some perspective?

He acknowledged she was good in Button - what more do you want?



i have developed negative feelings for her but those negative feelings are mostly based on how wildly irrational her fanbase can be. I don't think i've ever seen anything like it.

For instance: you can't even pay Cate a compliment without her fans complaining that you haven't complimented her sufficiently. This has happened to me on repeated ocassions.

Another example: ever notice how people are always acting like Cate is overdue and that she is owed? It's as if she didn't win that Oscar in February 2005. Most actors would kill to win even one and most fans would die of joy to have their favorite win even one. But clearly her fans will never be satisfied unless she has a stamp, 4 Oscars and perhaps statues in major parks.

it. freaks. me. out.

that is all. peace out.


thanks Yaseen. She also won the silver here for The Aviator in 2004. So in this decade alone she's won two medals from me.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the sad thing is that it is not Cate Blanchett's fault that her fans complain too much. Sadly the negative feelings generated by her fans may have affected your objectivity towards her. Since you are a film critic, don't you think your judgment should be clouded by pushy fans? How can you say that you are judging her performance without being affected by these negative feelings?

I hope you do not mind me asking because this is not just about Cate Blanchett, but I feel that this tells your readers as to how you review a performance and even a film. I usually read your reviews before I decide whether I should watch a film or not. Do you get my drift?

Anonymous said...

Nate has been 100% honest on which acresses he loves and Blanchett is not one of them. That is we why his comments are without any sentiment. That doesn't mean he is more harsh on her. He HAS given her credit in the past. And look at what he said about Streep. His love for her is known since forever but his opinion on her performance was not very warm. By that logic, does he dislike Streep as well?


Anonymous said...

Sorry Nathaniel, I know you don't want the Cate Blanchett discussion to continue, as discussion should really be about the WHOLE film, but I think the reason her manic fans think she is overdue is because they see her Aviator win as more about Kate Hepburn than Cate Blanchett, so they want to see her rewarded for a role which she has created herself. That and the fact that she has n't got a LEAD oscar yet (a PROPER ONE!!)

Anyway Nathaniel, I know its a samll role but what did you think of Tilda in the film?


Fox said...

Not to step on Nathaniel's toes here or, for that matter, any of the rabid & red-fanged Cate B. freaks, but I thought her performance in I'm Not There was laughably bad. (And I mean that literally... I laughed and laughed whenever she was on screen.)

I understand I'm in the minority in that opinion b/c I mentioned that sentiment at an Oscar party last year and was nearly shouted out the door by some real world Cate B. freaks.

Anonymous said...

not ecstatic about this film even if it has a topnotch cast. maybe i will watch it, maybe i will not. i am waiting for your review of this film.

nat, is it true that not all the films scheduled to be shown this year have yet to be screened for the press and the critics? if this true, how come the golden satellites have already released their nominations?

Chris Na Taraja said...

I love the 7 word review. It's like a review haiku.

Anonymous said...

You're right about the Cate Blanchett fan base Nathaniel. And if you said that she was miscast in Notes on a scandal, you're right about that too. I don't consider Blanchett to be this incredible, heart-stopping beauty and that they describe in Notes or The Good German. She has a rather unorthodox attractiveness a la Meryl Streep. I think Kate Beckinsale looks wise would be more appropriate in those roles.

I'm not the biggest fan of Blanchett's work (I find her a little to technical) but you can't deny the talent.

**Now I'm running off before her stans assassinate me!**

P.S. Happy for the Taraji Love!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Would you elaborate more on taraji P Henson's performance

Anonymous said...

i guess we have had enough talk about cate. whether we like her or not, the fact remains that she is a respected actress and nothing can change that.

nat, do you see "benjamin button" as a strong best picture contender? i have mixed feelings about it. reviews comparing it to forrest gump are not helpful.


anon 6:08 it's an honest question you ask. and while it's true that you shouldn't let off-movie things affect your feelings about a movie I think that that is to some extent impossible... at least in the 100% way. We don't live in vacuums.

I never hide my "favorites". All critics have them but many people don't share what things they are naturally drawn to which I think is a shame. So i know i get a lot of "he's biased!" negativity around the net because of this but I'm OK with that. It's a trade off I accept.

If people don't know that everyone has things they're naturally drawn to and things they're naturally not... then I am not sure they've really examined their own response to things.

I'm never going to pretend I don't love certain genres more than others and certain performers more than others. I'm never going to pretend I like actors as much as actresses. etcetera. Why pretend?

everyone i'll talk about the movie more later obviously... we'll have three months to talk about all through awards season ;) I do think it's a real contender, yes. It's BIG.

Anonymous said...

What is weird here is there is not a single mention of Brad Pitt here and he is the main character in the story at least I think he is. Isn't the movie about Benjamin Button? ;)


i will say that it was super shocking/thrilling to see Brad look like he used to back in the early 90s again.

very weird but thrilling.

Anonymous said...

Well that is good although how was his acting? Brad Pitt for me while I felt his abs got the attention for a longtime.

Does Brad Pitt do good with all the effects and voiceovers? Is he believable?

I figure I would ask about Brad since he hasn't been talked about as much.

Anonymous said...

"Big Fish redux"? Oh for christsakes.

Anonymous said...

I really hope Henson gets in over Knowles.

I'm really annoyed with her and acting, I mean she's already famous wtf does she want? There are soo many talented Black actresses who don't get roles at all and here she comes stealing potentially good ones with her wooden acting. ugh.

Anonymous said...

I've never understood not liking someone/something b/c of an overzealous fanbase. That's so ridiculous to me. If you hate something, stand by that on the grounds of just not liking it and be done with it instead of blaming your dislike on others who assessed the work in question more positively than you did. And it's not just here, it's on countless message boards. Yes, I adore Cate Blanchett, but being dismissed as a "Cate freak" and having that cited as a reason for someone else dislikig her work is baffling. Hate her work, not "care" for her work, call her "technical", "ubiquitous", "cold", whatever, I don't care. But hoisting your indifference of her work on her fans' shoulders like that is wrong. Those are your issues, not ours.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with Nathaniel fans can be annoying.


adam k. said...

Hey, bad news for Anne: Rachel Getting Married is competing in drama at the globes, according to Gold Derby.

So, who gets left out?

Scott Thomas

Kidman is the easiest to cross off - the globes seem to be over her now - but either Blanchett, Jolie or Hathaway will have to be squeezed out, too. And whichever misses could have a hard time recovering for SAG and Oscar.

adam k. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adam k. said...

Also, I just did a post on the barrenness of the musical/comedy categories over on my blog, if anyone wants to check it out.

Anonymous said...

That just opened a huge door for Sally Hawkins in actress comedy/musical.

adam k. said...

I think she would've won anyway. But yes. Now it's pretty much a lock.

She makes sense for that category.

Anonymous said...

Um, enough about Blanchett.

What about Tilda F***ing Swinton?!?!

Anonymous said...

i agree sallys lack of competition for the com/mus g globe is puttin her more near lock status,as for drama with 2 nods now melissa leo is beig underestimated,yes blanchett may have good otices but i feel we are being a little diane keaton the family stone here,the film is not about her and the role is not that baity plus are kst chances overestimated.

here i go



Anonymous said...

cate blanchett is a hot topic here. LOL. unfortunately, i agree with some of the readers that your negative feelings (translation: dislike?)over her is unwarranted and unfair. i am not her fan and i do not think she is overdue for another oscar, but i respect her body of work. besides she is what she is right now because a lot of critics find her a great actress. i am sure she doesn't force herself on them.

as for overzealous fans, i cannot believe that you don't find some of nicole kidman's fans the same way. when something negative is hurled against her, some go rabid as well.

oh well...

Glenn said...

Well that's because the insults hurled at Nicole Kidman are generally incredibly hyperbolic and strange ("OMGSHECANTMOVEHERFAAAACCE!!!" etc).

I'd suggest though she was perfectly cast in The Good German and that she should never be replaced by Kate Beckinsale ever. Christ.

Janice said...

//while you have the kindest words for nicole kidman, you can't seem to find the positive adjectives for cate. poor cate. //

Actually, anon 5:27, that isn't true. Re-read Nate "Actress of the Aughts" article - he gives Nicole #1, but almost grudgingly, and basically tells her to "take a vacation". Then there was the press conference for MATW where he said she was like a robot (I saw the footage and just thought she looked bored, pretty much like everyone else except JJL who managed to hide the fact by looking intensely at her husband whenever he was speaking.) There have been times when even I thought he was a "Kidman hater". turns out it was just Kidman fatigue. (Remember he loved Miss Z once upon a time.)

Point being, he HAS been critical of Kidman, he's been honest about her performances from his POV, he's honest about any performance in his opinion. And this is his blog, coming out of his pocket, and ergo HIS opinion. Nate is an online version of the friend who is a cinephile, not a professional and paid "Critic/reviewer" who actually tends to hide their likes/dislikes under the veil of "professionalism" or "objectivity".

Enough of that.

I enjoy these haikus - it's a way for us to get a taste of what he experienced until he has the TIME to write the full review (again I repeat: he's not getting paid to do this) and yes, I too want to know about...Tilda Swinton's perf (or rather her role, how much screentime, etc.)

Big Fish Redux - hmm. I didn't care for that one much except the ending with the father and son, so that doesn't excite me. What is it about these big directors being handed huge chunks of money and told "hey sure, go do whatever you want with almost $200mil"?


Tilda Swinton's role is quite small fwiw.

Anonymous said...

"or rather ... why when Kate Winslet will certainly be in the mix?"

Give me a break! Kate Winslet deserves an Oscar cause she's Kate Winslet? You didn't say why when Kate Winslet delivers a great performance but will certainly be in the mix.

And you still complain about Cate's fans? Whatever.


um... anonymous. You forget that i've seen both of Kate Winslet's performances this year. And, yes, I think they're both better than Cate's.

lylee said...

Aw, I kind of liked "Big Fish."

Fwiw, Nat, I don't think you're being unfair to Cate, even though I generally like her better than both Nicole and Kate-with-a-K. Preferences are always subjective.

Anonymous said...

nat, i was reading through your blog and you mentioned that cate an academy regular and it seemed to be said . as far as i know, she has only been nominated four times and not even in consecutive years (99 ,05, 07,08). she is not as revered by the academy as we think she is.

kate winslet has been nominated five times (96, 98, 02, 05, 07) and how come she isn't branded a regular?


huh? not sure i understand. Kate is definitely a regular.

basically people like MERYL, KATE, CATE, JUDI, PHILIP... etcetera are default nominees... that's the term i use for people the academy will turn to regardless of merit (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) when they aren't particularly enthused about the other prospects... often occurring when the best performances of a given year are in genres they don't like or in films they don't like.

Anonymous said...

being new in this site, i assumed that one of the reasons why you are not so thrilled with cate blanchett because she is an "academy regular". my bad!


ok cool. just wassn't following.

eeeeh it's definitely oscar season

Anonymous said...

*laughs* Oh come on, fellow Cate B. fans. Way to prove Nathaniel's misgivings about her fans' sense of perspective right. Let's not all jump on the poor guy because he dares to rank some other actresses above the great Cate, okay?

So Nat, considering how often people have been comparing this film to Gump in other reviews, is the comparison to Big Fish deliberate? Do you think it's going to go down that film's way of being hotly anticipated by cruelly (or maybe justifiably) snubbed come Oscar time?


i thought it was definitely more like Big Fish than Forrest Gump in plot / mood / style... at times i even felt the score was very Danny Elfman (though i know it's not Elfman)

but i don't wanna give any spoilers away.

the only way it's like forrest gump is that Benjamin Button is an odd (sorta dim bulb) somewhat passive central role and there's a girl he always loves (cate blanchett's "daisy" being the "jenny" character) and it spans decades and the special effects are similarly groundbreaking...

ok so maybe it's like a fusion of both.

Anonymous said...

That term "default nominee" is really pejorative. You're basically saying they're filler that's just there to be there when they're not quite onboard with weird/genre/blockbuster/indie choices, which is perfectly within their rights to do as voters. I remember you calling both PSH for "Charlie Wilson's War" and Cate B. for "The Golden Age" that last year as if those performances had no worth to them when they did. When has a "default nominee" been a deserved one in your eyes?


anon -- you'll never convince me that Cate deserved that nomination for GOLDEN AGE or that Hoffman's shouting in Charlie Wilson's War was some kind of deep performance. sorry.

but re: pejoratives. The term itself is not meant to be. If you follow my "why were they nominated?" percentage charts in any given year (here are examples: 2007, 2006, 2005)you'll see that even when i love the performance I can say it was partially due to who that person is. I didn't pretend that Julie Christie being Julie Christie didn't contribute to her awards run last year just because I love Julie Christie.

I don't know why i can't get a little credit but it seems some people want to be pissed off at me all the time. Not sure why.

A perfect example of a default nominee is MERYL STREEP. It's not a pejorative but they approach every performance of hers expecting to love it. And believe me that helps. It's kind of a lame example but put MERYL STREEP in FROZEN RIVER and pretend she gives the same performance Melissa Leo gave. Guess what? She has a much easier time getting traction.

It's just the way it is.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Well, I thought that both Blanchett and Hoffman fully earned those nods last year. Apples, oranges I guess.

Izz Carrillo said...

Well i really really liked (just watched it)im still sobbing...

watch movies said...

I think it was a cool movie. Brad Pitt adjusted to the various parts of his role through to ages and times. maybe too paced, but hey, they had a life to catch in 2 hours :)