Tuesday, December 19, 2017

1044. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Directed by David Fincher

I knew the premise of this story (who doesn't?) and I thought I could pretty easily map out the plot. It didn't seem worth it to sit through a nearly three hour movie when I knew what was going to happen, but hey, Brad Pitt is hot and the List told me to.

Benjamin Button was born with the appearance of old man, but thankfully not the dimensions. His mother still dies giving birth to him, and his father abandons him on the doorstep of a nursing home. He is taken in by Queenie, a woman who works at the nursing home. He ages backwards and is unfortunate enough to fall in love.  You can imagine how well that turns out.

It is super strange to me that this was adapted to be such a serious drama. It's like if Gogol's The Nose or Roth's The Breast were made into epic romances. The somber mood is not entirely successful. I felt like the movie was trying to come up with some great truth that could be observed from Benjamin's story when really, there wasn't one. I mean, aging is the one thing that unites us as life forms; no one is immune to its horrifying progression. What could a character removed from that possibly teach us?

Anyway, it's still a beautiful movie. The performances are incredible (I love my girl Taraji Henson) and I was properly impressed by the special effects. Still, I don't think it deserves a place on The List.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Brad Pitt has said it took five hours every day to put on the make up on required for the role.

Originally was going to star John Travolta. Well, that's a relief.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

1043. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Directed by Joel Coen

Finally, a Coen Brothers film that I am on the fence about. Usually I either love it (who couldn't love Fargo?) or hate it (The Big Lebowski...White Russians are disgusting by the way). I'm still not sure about this one, but at the very least it was interesting.

Three convicts, Ulysses, Pete, and Delmar, escape from a chain gang. Ulysses claims he hid stolen loot in the area before it was flooded. They set out to find the treasure, meeting many colorful characters along the way, including a one-eyed bible salesman, a young black man who claims he sold his soul to the devil, and Baby Face Nelson.

When this movie began, I was convinced George Clooney was miscast. That man belongs in a suit, dammit! But as the film progressed, I became more and more charmed by the characters. Certain moments of the movie were more effective than others; I loved the Siren scene and the Klan meeting was genuinely frightening. Other scenes like the one with Pete's cousin felt unnecessary.

I guess my main problem with this is that it didn't feel cohesive. It was hard to know where we were in the story but I suppose the Odyssey was episodic. Sidenote: am I the only one who inwardly groans when John Goodman shows up in a movie?

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The Coen Brothers admitted they never read the Odyssey. Well, that figures.

George Clooney's singing voice was dubbed by Dan Tyminski. I knew it was too good to be true.