Monday, May 23, 2011

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The official DVD cover
Brad Pitt's latest movie "The Tree of Life" just won the top prize in Cannes, but slow as I am when it comes to films - I do  have a child and a business to take care of, I only recently got to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (released in December 2008).

It has been a week since I saw it and it is still in my mind. Directed by David Fincher ("The Social Network", "Fight Club", "Seven"), it is loosely based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The only similarities between the two are the title, and the fact that the main character is born as an old man and ages in reverse. 

Brad Pitt stars in  the main role and  reminds that despite his over-publicized personal life, he is indeed a brilliant actor. His performance includes heavy make-up and computer-generated imaging for the largest part of the movie, but he still manages to portray his character with continuity and depth.

Cate Blanchett is the female lead starring as Daisy, Benjamin's childhood friend and love interest. Her performance is charismatic like almost everything she has done through the years. She graciously pulls the line of her character from a spoiled young prima ballerina to an understanding, albeit stricken by life woman.

I really enjoyed watching Taraji. P. Henson as Miss Queenie, Benjamin's surrogate mother. Queenie is a tough, hard-working lady, whose explosive character and warmheartedness make you love her from the moment she appears on screen. 

Tilda Swinton is also to be seen with a beautifully nuanced cameo appearance.

How it feels watching it
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" runs for over 2 hours and 40 minutes, which makes it rather long for today's standards. It held my attention for the whole time, and one week later still makes me ponder on its themes and characters. While the story is totally unbelievable by itself, it is still captivating and catapults the perception to a reality of its own.

Digital Effects
One thing I couldn't get while watching the movie, was why it got an Oscar for Visual Effects - it did not look as if they were used at all. Only after watching a few "making of" videos, did I realize how Brad Pitt 's character was built. At first I thought that Benjamin was played by actors at different ages, with Brad Pitt arriving sometime around the end of the first hour. The truth was miles away from it, because although body actors were used, it was still Brad Pitt who shaped the character - with some help from a studio of digital effects wizards. 

Below are the You Tube videos I watched:

Making of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"


Ed Ulbrich: How Benjamin Button got his face - This video is especially intriguing, as it describes and explains the whole process in detail (and I actually watched it till the end:-).

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