Thursday, January 8, 2009

Button Up For the Long Ride!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

After watching this beautiful new flick starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, I drove directly to Borders and picked up a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, Six Tales of the Jazz Age and Other Stories to read this story for myself.

Like many others, when I first saw the trailer for this movie I thought it was an adaptation of Andrew Sean Greer’s 2004 novel The Confessions of Max Tivoli, but it’s not. This film claims to be adapted from a short story written by Fitzgerald in the 1920’s. After comparing the movie and story, I’d have to say the similarities hang by such a short thread, you wouldn’t have enough to sew on a button!

In the short story, the father of Benjamin Button owns a button factory. Oh and the title is the same. That is absolutely where the resemblance ends. The tone of the story is quite bitter and it’s more of a looking glass into an oddity. The reader never even knows how this character really feels. The film and story are so vastly different I have no idea how you can say adapted…maybe inspired or loosely based?

How does this compare with the Max Tivoli book? Well, I not only read and recommended this book, I even had the pleasure of meeting the author at a reading. The love story aspect is most definitely the same and the time frame is closer than the Fitzgerald story. Greer, however, is not crying foul and rightly so. He is an author on the rise. His latest novel, The Story of A Marriage is once again a top-notch piece of fiction. He is an author with a Pulitzer in his future. If he makes a big deal out of this he will be forever connected with this rumored situation and take notice away from his great writing. Personally, I really have to question the source aspects, but in the end, it’s better for Greer to take the high road and hope that the controversy attracts more readers to his fine work.

Now, all this aside, this truly is Best Picture for 2008. It’s exactly what we go to the movies for. A fantastical story that draws us in, makes you believe the unbelievable and has you leaving the theater teary and satisfied.

This hits superior film making on all levels; interesting story, fine performances, beautiful cinematography, special effects and direction. This is how you make a great movie.

Brad Pitt is perfectly cast as Benjamin Button. As he morphs from shriveled old man/baby to a middle aged man, then younger and younger still, he is increasingly more beautiful. His physical appearance truly transcends personal taste. He is a modern day Newman or Redford; he may not be “your type” but no one can deny his powerhouse looks. Good looks aside, Pitt brings the acting chops to the role. His look of awe and child-like wonderment is vital in believing the storyline. Blanchett delivers her role well, but it’s more difficult to connect with her character. The supporting casts of characters do a superb job with moving the three hour drama along and adding to the rich story. This film does feel three long, but it’s a trip you’ll love going on.

Although the competition will be tough, I do believe this will pick up the Best Picture Academy Award for 2008.

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