Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Curious Gump of Benjamin Un-Buttoned

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Baby

“I hope I die before I get old.” – The Who

The only curiosity in question in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is how filmmakers can adapt a 32 page short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, about a man who is born old and ages backwards, into an epic 3 hour movie. Perhaps David Fincher, who may be one of the few directors to successfully (unlike Lucas) dazzle and revolutionize Hollywood’s new digital technology, and Eric Roth, who may be sadly responsible for teaching most of us our pop culture history through Forrest Gump, got too caught up in their own acclaimed reputations as they ditch F. Scott’s fable tacking on only his name for credibility and protection from plagiarism as they rewrite the “precious” life of Benjamin Button.

GollumThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button Old

Though Fincher succeeds in a beautiful technically shot fable he fails in constructing a plot with the help of Eric Roth’s famous Gump motifs and overdone flashbacks as we are constantly drawn back to a current day hospital room of some old dying hag reading Benjamin’s diary, who’s voiceover makes Forrest’s sound like a rambling auctioneer’s. With this implementation of reality (along with modern setting of Hurricane Katrina looming) one is drawn away from this quirky fairytale. The film quickly loses F. Scott’s touch as it turns into a rather banal love story of how Old Man Ben (Brad Pitt) and Little Daisy (Cate Blanchett) fall in love and cross paths in the middle of both their aging process so that it’s neither misconstrued as pedophilia or oedipal. But before they finally do shag and settle down on Revolutionary Road we follow Benjamin growing up in New Orleans in the early 20th century, fittingly at an old age home, brought up by his adopted Mother, Queenie (Taraji P. Henson). However this tale doesn’t get going till he goes off to sea on a tugboat (not to catch shrimp) that we are introduced with a new engaging cast of characters. It’s also during this time on shore leave Benjamin takes the old skin boat to tuna town with lonely, Elizabeth Abbot (Tilda Swinton). While this affair is short-lived, Tilda succeeds in playing her first likeable role as an unhappily married woman who senses something of a kindred young spirit in Benjamin as she spoils him with caviar and a nightly nightcap with no strings attached.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Brad & Tilda

It’s only when Daisy is reintroduced as some beatnik skanky dancer whose every whim is catered to by Benjamin that Fincher and Roth’s tale turns into a full on drama as F. Scott’s humor of a backwards life from old Pops’ Wingman to a College football Jock raised by his (Benjamin’s) own Son is lost in the adaptation. Cate Blanchett reprises her Kate Hepburn attitude and inflections as she views herself to be the greatest modern day actress (ironically this was all Hepburn had to do as well) but only prevails in looking like an arrogant bitch with too tight of a face. Pitt’s character is also lost as he leaves the love of his life fearing his youth will taint his ability  to act as a father – allowing for the first time his malady to control his life when we all know, as does F. Scott, it would of been cougar Cate’s constant desire to be in the spotlight that would chase Benjamin away. More useless plot time is then used up as Benjamin does some soul searching like Caine in Kung Fu and just walks the earth thereby giving Fincher an excuse to show off pretty images in exotic locations.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Travel

 

 

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Baby

“My Momma always said, “life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”‘ – Forrest Gump

Except in this case we do because in the end the minute you are born you are one day closer to death and this holds true for this story as well so what’s the point? Even in Benjamin’s youth he is plagued with a case of Alzheimer’s but what’s really ironic is hopefully I can skip all that and leave before the final curtain falls in the sanctum of a cozy dark theater, the only refuge in this absurd world – almost like this fellow moviegoer. The Real Curious Case

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Bahhh good grief, Charles Schulz.

Sad Charlie Brown

Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas has never failed to be the gift that keeps giving – not to the needy but to an estate that garners more than 32 million since his passing adding to his 1.1 billion. If Charles Schulz can’t practice what he preaches then how in God’s name can you expect the rest of us to. Quoting the gospel of Luke ain’t gonna cut it with friends and family. They will just think I’m being a cheap fuck. It’s very disconcerting when at every DVD store around this time of year there are copies selling for 15 bucks along with Charlie Brown Tree’s and Linus Blankets. When did Charlie Brown ever have more than a bag full of rocks to spend?

Peanuts Charlie Brown Rock

Even in 1965, before Santa was sticking his ass into back to the school specials, Charlie Brown struggled to direct a non commercial play and produce a tree where not only does he lose his Snoopy to twinkling lights and a display contest but Schulz too, as he continued to make a Holiday special for every calendar event.

Good Grief Charlie Brown

‘Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Where have I gone wrong?” Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.'” – Charlie Brown

 

Truer words have never been spoken as every time a bell rings and an angel gets it wings same can be said for everytime this special is aired the Schulz gets another mill.

Peanuts Nothing Last Forever Strip

So on that note:  Merry Christmas and God bless us, everyone!!

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No doubt. God loves homos.

Doubt Meryl

Finally Oscar buzz proves itself worthy as the eagerly awaited Doubt opened this weekend. John Shanley succeeds in faithfully adapting his 2005 Pulitzer winner to the big screen almost verbatim with the divine helping hand from the Coen Bros’ DP, Roger Deakins, and as always – performances by Streep, Hoffman, and Amy Adams delivered.

 

Set in the tumultuous year of 1964 as the country deals with the aftermath of the JFK assassination, the civil rights and feminist movements, the escalation of the war in Vietnam, and the race to the moon, the second coming, (who would go on to be more popular than Jesus) The Beatles, were making their debut at the Ed Sullivan theatre while just a few miles away the Bronx St. Nicholas Church School also struggles to keep up with the times by accepting there first black student (Donald Miller). Dictated by principal/gate keeper, Sister Aloysius Beauvier, (Meryl Streep) whose name itself reflects a Dark Ages ball buster, is set in her old ways of defacto disciplinarian that pits bunched granny pantied nuns vs. students. But while Sister Aloysius tries to hold the reigns by putting the fear of God into every boy and girl and scrutinizing every gesture and flirtation, in contrast, young Sister James (Amy Adams) joins the fold of old cripples, bringing her innocent and amenable teachings. However it is the new Father Brendan Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who challenges Sister Aloysius’ seemingly wicked ways with his compassionate, amiable progressive approach towards the impressionable students by sermonizing subliminal messages of doubt and faith. But this cool Priest image is soon shattered as we discover that his real interest in relating to students may really be to show them the light where the sun don’t shine. Sister James raises suspicion as she reports to Sister Aloysius of Father Flynn’s particular interest in Donald Miller, whom he has called out of class for a personal head to head confession while sucking down wine and probably some kneeling in the pew.  Sister Aloysius with no solid proof except for her keen sense of sniffing out a perv plays mother hen as she sets out to bring down Father Flynn at all costs and to protect Donald Miller. But the real twist to this tale is that there is no doubt that Donald is a homo too! Go figure…

Doubt Streep & Adams

 Meryl adds a New Yawkish (hawkish) accent to her resume as her austere performance with a cold calculated comedic timing – keeping her the center of attention. Soft-spoken Amy Adams, who still finds enjoyment in Frosty the Snowman, plays a believable new naive teacher believing these constrained preteens’ only desire is to memorize Franklin D. quotes when really they are sneaking in ballpoint pens and suffering from self-induced bloody noses to escape. Phillip Seymour Hoffman appears to have finally showered since his last unkempt roles in Synedoche, New York, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and The Savages, but still hasn’t found the time to trim his nails. Yet even with them clean claws to snatch up little boys he remains likeable, sympathetic, and idealistic.

Doubt Hoffman & Boys

Dirty HoffmanHoffman Dirty 2

But perhaps Doubt’s biggest surprise is the performance by Viola Davis as Donald’s mother. It would appear that all those Law & Order victims taught Davis a thing or two about crying on cue as she steals a scene from Streep with a supporting actress nom by displaying drizzling snot as she fights for her son to stay in St. Nicholas where his care under Father Flynn may be a bit too hands on but is less harmful than facing his Father’s fists at home. But for me personally, I’d rather be punched in the face than to be fist fucked. 

 Doubt Viola Davis

With the year coming to an end it looks as though Doubt will be taking home a few prizes leaving all us sinners condemned to hell for stealing some of God’s umpf by exposing his philandering Priests (and Michael Jack) and nose pickers yet again.

Hoffman Nose Picker

(Hoffman’s vice leading him to become a Priest)

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