| Note: Two Movie Reviews submitted below for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttont" by Keith Cohen and Jolene.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4 Stars (Out of four)
Review by Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"
It is hard to resist the charming appeal of classic storytelling in this dramatic epic that ranks right up there with "Gone with the Wind," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Titanic."
It is also no coincidence that this movie resembles the structure and magical realism of audience favorite "Forrest Gump," since screenwriter Eric Roth is the genius author responsible for both cinematic treasures.
Roth loosely adapted the screenplay from the 1921 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man born in his 80s who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences. Fitzgerald drew his inspiration from a Mark Twain observation that "it’s a pity the best part of life comes at the beginning and the worst part at the end."
The story is set in New Orleans. It opens in late August 2005 with Hurricane Katrina bearing down on the city. Daisy (Cate Blanchett), an old woman lying in a hospital bed, has her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) read from the diary of an unusual man named Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt).
He was born on Armistice Day (Nov. 11, 1918), which marked the end of World War I. His mother died while giving birth. His father, Thomas (Jason Flemyng), the owner of Button’s Buttons, intended to drown him, but instead left him on the steps of an old people’s home wrapped in a filthy blanket along with $18.
He is scooped up by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), who becomes his mother for all practical purposes. She gives him the name Benjamin.
He is a very ugly baby who is prematurely old at birth. The doctor tells Queenie that "some creatures are not meant to survive." Queenie delivers the key line of the movie when she says "You never know what’s coming for you."
The key word of the title is "curious." It defines the guiding principle of Benjamin’s journey of self-discovery. The movie contains many memorable lines about life, love and death. You get ensnared in this captivating story, which is full of surprises.
It is about timing in life where things happen when they are supposed to. Benjamin says it best, "Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we missed."
The movie magnificently illustrates the domino effect of how a series of intersecting lives and incidents out of anyone’s control shape our destiny.
Rather than an emotional bond, there is a cool detachment to the main character since his cycle of life has a reverse order. He meets interesting characters that include a tugboat captain (Jared Harris), the wife of a British diplomat who attempted to swim the English Channel (Tilda Swinton), a pygmy and a red-headed ballet dancer (Blanchett).
This is a prime example of why movies are so contagiously attractive with a mesmerizing power over us. This excellent story rivals a page-turning novel that you can’t put down, building anticipation to a fever pitch.
The magical technological advances of the digital computer, including motion capture technique, made the wondrous visual effects possible.
Director David Fincher ("Zodiac," "Panic Room," "Se7en"and "Fight Club") has crafted a romantic fantasy masterpiece where life is measured in special Kodak moments rather than years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes.
This movie flies by and its nearly three-hour running time seems like the blink of the eye.
Pitt, who was raised in Springfield, Mo., and is two credits short of graduating from the University of Missouri, has never looked more handsome. His dreamboat face and chiseled physique make him the most attractive guy in the world.
Blanchett gives an acting tour de force. Her exquisite face and bodacious body are to die for. The chemistry between Pitt and Blanchett is sizzling hot.
The real standout in the cast is Henson. She is the even-keeled emotional backbone of the entire undertaking. She instills Benjamin with his personality characteristics of being kind, gentle, trustworthy and loyal.
This massive production will have an intense impact on mainstream moviegoers. It should garner more Oscar nominations than any other film released in 2008. It is the cream of the crop in the categories of cinematography, editing, art direction, sound mixing, costume design, special visual effects, makeup and original musical score. It ranks as my personal No. 1 favorite film of the year.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
3 1/2 Stars (Out of four)
Review by Jolene Mendez
The fuss of this holiday film week is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, an interesting tale of a man who is living his life in reverse. Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is born with an interesting disease where he is born a healthy baby, but with external and physical attributes of someone in there nineties. As time goes on Benjamin slowly becomes younger, physically that is. When Benjamin is born his mother dies. His father becomes horrified at what he sees and takes him to a retirement home where he leaves him to be cared for. Queenie (Taraji Henson) is a caregiver at the home and she takes Benjamin in to raise him as her own. There Benjamin meets a young girl who he befriends for many years to come. Her name is Daisy.
Eventually Benjamin begins to walk and comes to a point in his life where he is strong enough to work and joins a ship crew, where he helps man the ship. Many years pass while he is away and he eventually returns home. Benjamin comes home a young and attractive man, at least on the outside. His mama Queenie does not even recognize him at first. Once home with Queenie for some time he is also reunited with a grown up Daisy (Cate Blanchett). The two have now aged and take an interest in each other. Daisy has been away in New York City studying ballet, while Benjamin has been away at sea. Daisy shows Benjamin she has feelings for him, but being the gentlemen he is he refuses to act on them right away.
When Benjamin does finally feel ready to reciprocate Daisy’s feelings he travels to one of her recitals in New York City and meets up with her afterwards, only to find Daisy is living a life he is not familiar with. Feeling he has made an error in judgment he returns home. Benjamin learns during this time who is father is. As disgusted as he may be, he feels it is his father and he must not let him slip out of his life. The two share many days together, even a special one at the lake during the final days. This is a very touching part of the story. Daisy and Benjamin do finally reunite and there story takes another dramatic and bizarre turn.
Brad Pitt steps up to the lead role again and receives much kudos for this act. He handled Benjamin Button flawlessly with such grace. Kate Blanchett let her talent shine through with her stellar scene stealing moments. Not to be left out is Taraji Henson, as Queenie who offered nothing but the best to this film, a great addition to the mix. As unusual as this storyline was it was fascinating and entertaining. I have to admit it was slow at first and that is not a great thing to say when it is a three hour film, but once the storyline picked up you found yourself yearning to find out more. Benjamin Button is a heartfelt and loving film that is meant to help you remember to not take life for granted and treasure every moment.