The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) Directed by David Fincher
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button is really not curious at all. Predictable and condescending are words I would use to describe it. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was disappointed. When I saw the trailer for this film years ago, it reminded me of Forrest Gump. Seeing the whole film now confirmed to me that this was supposed to be a new version of the 1990s sentimental classic. Benjamin Button just failed to be a touching character, like Forrest once was (I can still sing the opening melody and see the feather fall from the sky).
It was surprising actually, how The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button could tackle so many touching human issues (death, birth, deformity, lost love, romance, war, hurricane Katrina), but remain distant and unfeeling. In its long run the film also employed many narrative devices, but here their multiplicity seemed glued-on rather than being an enriching factor in telling a story. I'm afraid there lies the weakness: the story is not very interesting and engaging. The bottom line is: being born a baby and then growing old and dying is pretty tragic, isn't it? Is it any different if you go from old to young and end up dead? I sometimes have script ideas for films and maybe I should write them out next time, because I think they are better than this one.
Brad Pitt is still not a great actor by any means. I did write a song inspired by him once, but it was from a nasty angle rather than an admiring one. Luckily he won't care what I think of his acting or anything because he has made a lot of money from his kind of acting and he is married to Angelina.
I like Cate Blanchett generally, but even she appears miscast here. Her ballerina scenes make me feel embarrassed and her old dying mother scenes are impossible to understand without putting on the hard-for-hearing subtitles. Of course the successful conventional romance takes place when Brad and Cate look like their movie star selves. I did not like The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button much, yet one evening we'll probably revisit it. It's that kind of bland stuff that is sometimes all we can take.
How preconditioned have we become? Last night as the day was ending, horrific attacks were being carried out in Norway. First, bombs in Oslo then shootings on the small Island of Utøya. At first we were told through various news agencies this was a terrorist attack, perpetrated by some Norwegian Muslim group. I wake up this morning to find out it was a lone Norwegian, a possible Neo-Nazi supporting individual who was responsible for both tragedies. Was the media pandering to our preconditioned expectations? One thing for sure it demonstrated a still fond need to blame the outsider before admitting it could be one of our own responsible for such atrocious actions. I've just returned from England where the media furor surrounding News International's phone hacking had reached fever pitch. The media reacts in indignation at underhand reporting amongst its own fraternity, sensationalist analysis about how Rupert Murdoch handled his questioning by British MP's. Ladies and gentlemen, a rare insight into the kind of idiots who trawl the wings of high power which effects so much of our lives. Oh, and isn't Murdoch's wife feisty and ever so young, guffaws the media!
So, amongst all this real drama, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seems so gentile. This film patronizes us in the same way that Forrest Gump left some of us so astounded all those years ago. You expect more from Fincher, whose pictures usually display a slight hint of disdain for all that Hollywood bullshit. Here he dives right into that pile. Cate Blanchett seems destined to become the one great impersonator of modern Hollywood. Amongst the CGI, she's a passable dancer who wants to ultimately wait for the ugly duckling of Benjamin to grow younger and become the shag-fest prince that is, wait for it... Brad Pitt. Fincher is the one director to have used Pitt intelligently in the past, but here he indulges in the worst aspects of the Pitt mythology. Pitt oozes the class of a hick from a Marlboro Man clothing catalog. Perhaps the adage of 'run Benjamin run' doesn't quite have the same ring about it.
Amongst the CGI trickery of making actors who are glamorous look younger or older than they really are, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button manages to seriously bore me. The emotional depth this film aims for never hits home, the characters on screen seem so unreal in constantly unreal settings. This film supposedly heralded Pitt as a serious actor. I mean, seriously? Vacuous and preposterous, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button panders to the worst aspects of Hollywood excess. Just stick some good looking superstars playing themselves on the screen and some serious special effects and that should be enough to pacify the masses. It's unfair to the The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to be wrapped up in my most negative state of mind. On a day when I despair for human intelligence and compassion, I just think we need more than this.