Friday, January 23, 2009
Wow... that's a shocker. Thirteen Oscar nominations for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The Academy has reached a new low in its quest to appease the Studio titans.
How do I detest Button? Let me count the ways. How do you take a fascinating (if awkward) premise about a man who ages backward from birth, fraught with metaphysical implications and time-bending potentialities, and turn it into the dullest and most decidedly un-curious tale Hollywood has ever blown $150 million on?
You start by turning Brad Pitt's character into a slackjawed simp incapable of contemplation, only allowing him to speak in terse, one sentence obsequities - and only then in response to the most prosaic observations of the other characters. Then you take Cate Blanchett, cast her as Pitt's lifelong love interest, package her in the most formulaic "talent tragically cut short" role, and edit her screentime into something too annoying to be engaging, too constricting to be developmental.
Then, as if you haven't already created an overly dramatic story arc, you frame the entire narrative in a flash-back voice over, read outloud by Cate's daughter on Cate's deathbed. And just to squeeze in some extra tension, you puts Cate's deathbed in a New Orleans hospital in the last hours before Hurricane Katrina makes landfall. Will she die before her daughter finishes the story? Will Cate, her daughter, and the diary be swept away in the hurricane? Do we care?
Hats off to the Academy. Really guys, great work.