Saturday, December 27, 2008

All Horses Outta the Gate!

Glenn here. I thought I'd take a quick moment out of my busy schedule (hah! I have discovered I have chicken pox, which puts a serious crimp in my movie-going plans!) to ask y'all what you think of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or anything else that the studios have finally found us mere mortals worthy enough to set our eyes on. My thoughts on Benjamin can be found here, but I (and I'm sure Nat too) would love to know what YOU think.

Cold and distant or touching and poetic?

Speak up in the comments!

Another topic of discussion - Tilda Swinton: immortal goddess or alien from Jupiter? hmmm...

28 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

My answer on your Tilda questions is: both. I mean, can't she both?

john said...

I was going to say she's both too!
The film is being released here in the UK on February 6th 2009, I can't wait that long!!

Anonymous said...

love tilda. loathe Ben Button. Not even cold and distant. Just lame, contrived and loonng.

Casey F said...

I was gonna say alien goddess from Jupiter. clearly i was beat to it.

On another note, I am completely in love with Button. I need to see it again but at the moment its teetering on the brink of my top 10 films ever. I really think in 30-50 years this will be the film Brad Pitt is remembered by. (I still prefer Fight Club). I cant really understand the cold thing, this movie touched me very much. and I thought all 3 of the Oscar hopeful actors are deserving of any praise thrown at them

pspeary said...

I've seen it twice-- first time appreciated it but found it overlong- second time loved and found it poetic, finely integrated with great poetic resonance and deeply moving-- it is the thinking person's FOREST GUMP

Hayden said...

I know I kind of discontinued my blog to contribute to InReview Online (inreviewonline.net), but I just posted a lengthy writeup on the acting in Benjamin Button.

Enjoy!

eric y said...

I actually really enjoyed the movie, even though I do have issues with Brad Pitt's performance and some aspects of the writing. I understand the common complaint of "cold and distant," but I think it's just due to the movie's specific stylistic and philosophical approach. For every part of the movie I don't care for (i.e. all those scenes with the captain and B.B. on the ship...blah), I can cite others that moved me (i.e. Daisy seeing Benjamin again in her dance studio).

Hayden said...

All those women had to pick up slack for Pitt's lazy performance. The dance studio scene particularly bothered me...Blanchett did all the facial work while Pitt just stood there and looked young.

Dom said...

Glenn, your review mirrors my thoughts exactly.

Also, Tilda Swinton is both those things and more :)

Bryan said...

Uninvovling as far as I'm concerned. All the Julia Ormond/old Daisy scenes really killed it for me, plus too many self-consciously quirky characters for it to ever seem as true as good poetry.

NATHANIEL R said...

bryan i'm with you on the wet blanket that the Ormond/Blanchett framing device was. I was okay at the beginning assuming it was mere framing device but it is actually more like a window device because we keep going back to it. zzzzz

i like the rest of hte movie much more.

Casey F said...

Nathaniel, how do you grade the film without the Katrina/Daisy's death framing?

Arkaan said...

So, does The Curious Case of Benjamin Button strike anyone as being this year's Aviator at the oscars? The nomination leader, and a tech destroyer (art direction, costume design, visual effects, score, cinematography at least) but it cedes most of the major awards elsewhere.

NATHANIEL R said...

casey f --maybe B+/A-...

but there is so much of that dull "telling" exposition window which is totally C ;)

also i still can't figure out why kris & sasha thought Blanchett would totally be in the best actress race.

is it the acting under prosthetics? I just don't really get the enthusiasm. I'm also not sure that Blanchett/Pitt have real chemistry BUT they do look sensational together. They both so purty.

Button Holed said...

There are moments in the picture that come close to greatness – moments that feel profound, in the way that the very best work of Resnais feels profound. It is the presence of these significant moments, most of them in the film’s last hour, that make me hate the movie all the more because they hint at what might have been. When I walked out of the screening I remember saying, “Well, it ain’t no Zodiac.” The framing device, Katrina’s irrelevant and forced topicality, the alarmingly retrograde black caricature that is Queenie, the faux-folksy Americana, basically all of the Hollywood stuff, made me sick to my stomach. I actually think that Roth’s screenplay is lesser than his work on Gump. For me, the film Button most resembles is Amelie, but without the Jeunet’s charm. People, this movie is crap. Pitt does little; Blanchett less; Taraji P. Henson gives the year’s most dreadful performance, while Tilda Swinton’s scenes are all among the film’s best. She’s absolutely magnificent. There are just so many limp, year-end turds that I find myself struggling to stay awake through – Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Milk – all earnest things that one could never accuse of being, dare I say it, cinematic. Please, somebody, make a movie for fuck’s sake.

Ian said...

I think the beauty of Blanchett's performance was that she could have made it a showy, overacted "wow, look at me age (and act)!" kind of thing, but instead it was subtle and restrained, yet still convincing in each phase of Daisy's life. A lot of detail- i.e. the dancer's elegance (Blanchett was an ideal choice for this because she fits that description naturally, but where she could have coasted on her natural elegance, in the same way that Pitt did with his looks/star charisma, she made Daisy a real character with added nuances as she got older. I think it was a surprising perf. too because Blanchett has showboated before but resisted acting on any impulse to do it here. Predictably lost in the shuffle because it isn't Mannered Meryl the Dragon Lady or Kate's Transparently Meticulous Study in Despair (both fascinating to watch, but ultimately easier to respect than be moved by, I think).

I guess Blanchett made it look effortless too, which is sort of the point, right? Because I don't think it was. I haven't always loved her but I really liked her choices in BB.

Ian said...

Also- any word on a release date in the U.S. for "Julia"? Tilda for Lead in '09?

Daniel Armour said...

Although I HATE the old person telling a story framing device in any movie and wasn't completely in love with it here, it grew on me as the film went along. As for my feelings on Benjamin Button, it grabbed me emotionally - I'm still thinking about it - and the technical aspects were really good. However, I found some of the characters too over-the-top (such as Queeny and the ship captain) and I thought the narrative went on too many tangents.

Overall, I would say the film was pretty good but I wasn't blown away by it. If it comes down to it and Slumdogs for Best Picture, though, I'd much rather it win than Slumdogs.

Glenn said...

Yeah, I'm not understanding the Taraji Henson love. It's like a stock african-american part from the black and white era. I didn't really get anything from her other than she's a sassy black momma.

ryan said...

button holed i admire your fearless take down even though I disagree with some of it (I am a huge Tilda admirer but I thought her scenes here were among the weakest... the movie had so many tangents and i know he was trying to pull it all together in the end but it didn't work for me.

still many moments of beauty.

as for "somebody make a movie!" well, people have been making those all year long but it's the precursors --they're my new scapegoat ;) --that convince oscar that movies only exist if they're trying to win Oscars (i.e. the December releases)

Anonymous said...

Loved it. Loved it so much I watched it twice in the same day. Pitt was the heart and soul of this and deserves an oscar nomination. He doesn't have any showy scenes but made me fall in love with Benjamin almost from the beginning. Also Tilda, though she didn't have a lot of screen time deserves a BSA nod. Benjamin and Elizabeth was so much fun to watch. I wish she'd get more love for what she did here. This definitely makes my top 5, probably top 3 for the year.

Button Holed said...

It doesn’t strike me that there is anything subtle or sophisticated about Blanchett’s performance. All of the hospital stuff is unbearable and certainly nothing we’ve not seen before -- a British actress under tons of latex, expiring all too slowly, and speaking in an insufferable and false southern accent. As for her bohemian scenes, those where we’re to believe she’s a great dancer, I think the character is barely written and the performance is mostly posing. I understand that Button is supposed to be something of a cipher but I can’t figure out what he, or anyone else for that matter, would “see” in Daisy.

Button Holed said...

And, yes, Ryan, I’ve seen some movies this year — Gomorra, Happy-Go-Lucky, Hunger, The Wrestler, Mister Lonely, In Bruges, The Dark Knight, Waltz With Bashir, A Christmas Tale, W., The Edge of Heaven, The Reader, The Headless Woman, Let the Right One In, and, yes!, Slumdog Millionaire. Who’d ever thunk it? Boyle trumps Fincher. I can’t possibly be alone on this, can I? In 20 years, Button is going to look as dated and clichéd as Dead Poets Society.

Kamikaze Camel said...

The screenplay is, I'd argue, the film's major undoing. But, still, I really liked the movie.

Anonymous said...

I loved "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and Cate Blanchett should be mentioned more than she is for best actress.

Jer said...

I really liked the movie (so very pretty), but I am so happy to learn that other people had a problem with the framing device of Julia Ormond and old Daisy in the hospital. I feel like Fincher thought if he set the movie in New Orleans, he had to acknowledge its recent history and I just found it sloppy and unnecessary. I audibly groaned by the third time it flashed back to Daisy in the hospital.

I also HATED the visual element of the "lightning strike" stories. I thought it reeked of an arrogant director wanting to show off some more cool "this looks like an old photo" effects.

But overall, I thought it was a well-built house of a film, even if I disliked some of the furnishings.

Anonymous said...

"Button Holed"... Cate Blanchett is not a British actress. She is Australian.

In answer to your question, Tilda Swinton's one of the last true artists. Whether that makes her an alien or a goddess I'm not sure.

munzz said...

Titanic could explain the faith of this film, not the movie titanic, but the ship itself. A big production with a lot talent and big names behind it, but not being able to deliver its potentials; it didn't quite transfer its audience where it could have with all its promise and potential.

The film was beautifully shot, with amazing lighting and composition. The cinematography was the only thing that could keep one from falling asleep.

The premise of the film is of an unusual one, and it begged the question of how it was going to work. I personally thought that this could be a vehicle on delivering a very profound message on life and death. I thought it was going to touch on the absurdities of life and death and the reasons behind our existence. Or maybe touch on how one would appreciate his/her young hood much more if they aged backwards; because who can deny that a man with a young body and the wisdom of an old man could achieve anything that he wants to. But it didn't at all focus on those philosophies about life; instead it was about a very usual and at times boring love story, with all the clichés that we have all heard from our kindergarten teachers when we were 5.

The film seemed sappy and sentimental. The only times that it tried to have some sort of message on life and death it ended up being so cliché. Lines like: nothing lasts forever, everyone dies, no one is perfect, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us, etc… delivered no refreshing outlook on life. Normally movies tend to steal a few clichés and run with it in the hopes of not getting caught but it was surprising how the decision was made to put all those clichés in the film and still the film begged the audience to take it seriously.

There was no depth to the main character, Benjamin. In a character driven film like this, the main character's depth and complexity determines the depth and complexity of the film, without it the whole movie would fall flat as it did in this case. It was unclear what Benjamin liked in life, what his passion was, what were his hobbies, what made him happy, what made him sad, etc. his motivations were unclear.

At the end of the film, I wondered what his special condition of aging had to do with the film's message and its ultimate goal. I don't think the film would have been that much different if Benjamin was a normal person with no special condition but still went through the same journey. In other words, his special condition didn't add anything profound, as it could have; to the plot other than fooling the audience into thinking they are witnessing a very unique film.

The reason behind the film's relatively good reviews could be (beside the hype and Brad Pitt being in it) because the plot seemed interesting and unique enough to get someone to go and check it out. But after walking out of the theater I couldn't help but thinking that what a genius marketing strategy this was to generate all that enthusiasm about a film that delivered nothing new, and something so mediocre that could have been delivered by any other film that comes out on any Friday throughout the year.