The Unseen Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
By Robert Dixter Dec 23, 2008, 20:55 GMT
"I was born under unusual circumstances." And so begins "Benjamin Button," adapted from the classic 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards. A man, like any of us, unable to stop time. We follow his story set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the twenty-first century, following his journey that is as ...more
What a perfect story to tell on film. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is actually based on an old F. Scott Fitzgerald story but if you think about it, the story of a man who ages in reverse should be a great visual masterpiece told on the big screen, especially in today’s age with the use of CG effects.
This sounds like the first film where CG effects are actually warranted (and not just used to correct Meg Ryan’s face after destroying it with plastic surgery) and can help tell the story properly as opposed to directors just sticking in effects because it’s easier or they want to be flashy (I’m looking at you Michael Bay).
The film is already picking up Oscar buzz in the Best Picture category. I don’t really tend to believe such things and honestly with the recent Oscars being awarded to films I would not necessarily consider Best Pictures (Crash, No Country For Old Men) I think there is too much emphasis placed on the award itself as opposed to the merit of the film. But in a busy holiday season filled with everything from Transporter 3 to Valkyrie, buss and critic’s kudos will definitely help propel this film. Now if I could only get some buzz going on bringing back the turtleneck for men I wouldn’t have to change my wardrobe.
The real reason to see this movie is because of its director, David Fincher. The man has slowly and steadily built himself a reputation as that of a perfectionist and brilliant director. I would argue he is the closest thing to Stanley Kubrick we have working today. Take a look at some of his old movies, Zodiac (a whodunit that held your attention even though they never catch the killer), Fight Club (essentially a big budget indie film with a great ending), and Seven (the most upbeat and happy ending I have seen since Sleepless in Seattle – NOT!) and check out how he composes his shots. Each frame can stand on its own.
The way he shoots and lights his films shows how much effort and time goes into filmmaking. He also manages to bring out great performances from his actor’s. Watch Morgan Freeman’s subtleness in Seven, Jake Gyllenhaal’s determinedness in Zodiac or Jodie Foster’s panic in well, Panic Room. I would even line up to see one of Fincher’s commercials on the big screen. He’s a smart man who came out of the video director school, but never sacrificed his look for story like most of the others did. And now he has a massive canvas to tell a huge story dealing with a great topic, the passage of time.
The film stars Brad Pitt who usually only stars on the covers of tabloid magazines. Now, I don’t think Brad Pitt is a great actor but he is a game actor, meaning he’s always up for the challenge (like chipping his own teeth in Fight Club). From the few short scenes I’ve seen in the trailer it looks like Brad does a decent job in the movie. I think he’s lucky to have found a partner in David Fincher (this is their third film together) and Fincher is lucky to have found an A list actor that can get his big budget art films greenlit.
Every year there is one film that shoots for a topic that is bigger than just what we see on the surface. Most fail, but I’m betting with Fincher behind this one he’ll knock it out of the park.