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THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, 2008
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THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Movie Review
Directed by David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Kate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Taraji P. Henson, Jared Harris
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

Tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences.

REVIEW:

There will be a lot of comparisons with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Forrest Gump. Button could easily land the Best Picture Oscar just like Gump did as it's a certainty to be nominated. The Academy loves movies like this. Grand epics that tell a story of someone's life and within that life perhaps a few answers about our own life could be dealt with too.

Eric Roth, the writer of Forrest Gump is also the writer of Button, both adaptations from previous works of literature. Both films use plenty of CGI to progress the story along and a long list of makeup people were hired to age (or de-age Benjamin Button) the performers as the story progresses. And both main characters voice-over the movie along while background radio/TV or whatever clever way they do it, tells the viewer where we are in the 20th century. And it's almost always in a very significant historic moment.

What makes the two films different is that Button deals with the early 20th century as Gump dealt with the later. You can even say that Gump is a much lighter story and that Button is more subtle. Benjamin Button is a wise man who is a quiet/observer type of person as Gump was a not so smart person who liked to talk and talk and talk. Therefore the voice-over mechanism is used much differently in the two films. Gump's voice over was the punchline to the scene as Button's was more of a setup to a moment as the viewer makes up its own mind to what to feel.

But both films really have the same thematic that drives the story along. And it's all about CONNECTION. That seems to be what life is all about: the connections we make with people. And there is a circle of life approach to its theme where both characters seem to end up exactly where they started, except they are much wiser because of their travels.

Benjamin Button has seven major connections in his life:

1) His Mother/Caretaker
2) The Poet/Father Figure
3) The Artist/Captain of the Tugboat
4) The Comedian/Introducer of adulthood
5) The Father/One with regrets
6) The Swimmer/The other woman
7) The Dancer/Love of his life

With these connections, we learn who Benjamin is. Benjamin is not the type to express himself, so these are the characters in the movie that really drive the story along.

Director David Fincher is a very talented person. He has the ability in this film and all of his previous films to make us really feel and like all of the characters he presents. They always seem to have those emotions needed for the audience to like them no matter how flawed or even bad they are. That's a talent not many directors are able to do. Fincher is a master collaborator, and whoever he works to pull this off, he seems to alway pick the right person for every single job of the film.

What you learn in the CONNECTION theme of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is that it's all about TIMING and PATIENCE. To not force things but let the universe set you up to make the connection with the person you need to connect with.

Because Benjamin Button is living his life backwards, he looks at life in a completely different perspective. It's really a nice scientific experiment we wish we all could do. Perhaps we would take advantage of life more and learn to not be so fearful. Benjamin knows where he's going and that must have a calming effect.

And I guess that's the point of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. For us to really think about who all these people are who come in and out of our lives. And who are the special ones that we should be paying extra attention to.

I am a romantic in nature and I also do believe that we have that special one that we are destined to be with and perhaps procreate with and bring another person into the world. All epic films seem to have that epic romantic storyline attached to it. It's almost turning into an obvious cliche. But I don't mind it at all and I'm pretty sure almost everyone else doesn't mind either. It seems to be an instinct we all have to connect with that special one and that's the extra layer to this movie. We get another version of a great love story.

I really liked this film but I didn't love it. Loving a film for me I guess is one that I want to watch again right away because I observed it so inwardly. Meaning that I get so emotionally involved in the movie, I don't look at it from a movie-maker perspective. I got caught a few times in the misstep transition shots, the obvious make-up jobs on the performers and the even more obvious CGI in Button. But that's just me. Ever since I began to really study films and started to make my own, I don't see movies the same way. But there's always a few films a year that turns me into a child again.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button almost did it for me. Almost.

But this is a must see film for film fans and filmmakers. There is so much to learn from it. And I won't be surprised at all if the Academy selects it as the best picture of 2008.

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