Sunday, December 28, 2008

Benjamin Button: Life Begins at 86

Even though Brad Pitt couldn't overcome his ex-wife's dog movie during the post-Christmas weekend, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is still a very good fable about life, and how it should be lived, even if you're born as a baby with the body of an 86 year old man. Putting Brad Pitt as an old man in a boy's body is a neat technical trick, but it doesn't get in the way of the story, expecially after an hour. Pitt portrays Button as ageless, someone who wants to live what life has to offer, even if his body is doing it backwards.

Before this year, I had no desire to see Brad Pitt movies, and not just because he and his wife, Angelina Jolie, are constant gossip fodder. Despite their high-profile life, they are good actors. We just forget it when we heard about their adopted kids and such. If you see Pitt in action, he can put together god work. He was hilarious in Burn After Reading as a dopey gym worker who gets in over his head. In Button, he's also great as someone who lives under unusual circumstances. The fact that he has his "childhood" in an old-folks home helps him transition to adulthood, while turning younger.

Of course, there is always a woman, and her name is Daisy, played by Cate Blanchett. While Button looks wise beyond his years, she enjoys her youth as she works as a dancer. Yet the older she gets, the more interesting she becomes. Before Daisy, Button has an affair with a married woman played by Tilda Swinton. She was more interesting than Blanchett, when she talked about how she wished she could change things she did in the past, while he says it isn't too late. How she deals with something she nearly did as a teenager shows what kind of impression he makes.

The other key woman in Button's life is Queenie, a maid who takes in Button when he's abandoned by his father. Taraji P. Henson is very touching as someone who looks after Button despite his unique condition.

As for the film itself, it's a very interesting fantasy inspired by a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. As far as the Best Picture race goes, Pitt shines best here, but the overall movie doesn't shine enough. So far, Slumdog Millionaire would be my choice for Best Picture, although Wall*E would actually be a close second. That will still get Best Animated Film. As far as the Best Actor race goes, I am still eager to see what Mickey Rourke does in The Wrestler. I have liked the trailer, and the praise he's gotten so far. Whether Oscar voters would actually make him their top choice is another matter. The signs seem to suggest Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon, but we should know more in a couple of weeks.

Now, for the future: I saw two trailers I really hated. One was Bride Wars, whose only purpose is to see Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson turn into UFC fighters because only one of them can get married at a swanky hotel. If Hathaway gets snubbed for Best Actress for Rachel Getting Married, it may be because she made this movie, which may make some voters question her judgement.

It could be worse...she could be in The Proposal, which will be Sandra Bullock's last movie ever because no one will ever hire her again after this "film" bombs next summer. She plays a cruel boss who forces an underling (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her so she's not deported to Canada. Now, the said underling could have waited until she is deported, and not have to do this at all. But it has to be done, or there's no movie...which is a better idea. The trailer shows Bullock at her worst, which means unsuspecting movie goers will have no sympathy for her coming in. I mean, a cruel boss forces some guy to marry her, which leads to them falling in love and getting married for real? I'd rather believe Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz dressed in wedding gowns fighting in the Octagon than this.

I also want to announce my website will get a new look. Let's just say I have made my own version of a very special solar system. You'll see New Year's Day.

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