- Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Born to be Different

"I was born under unusual circumstances."
And so begins "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards. A man, like any of us, unable to stop time. We follow his story set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man's life can be. Directed by David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a time traveler's tale of the people and places he bumps into along the way, the loves he loses and finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tells the haunting, existential fable of a man, born at the close of World War I, who ages backwards while those around him age forward, the old-fashioned way. Where others are born unformed and unwrinkled, Benjamin comes into the world a decrepit old man; where others wither, he dies in a pink and creaseless state of infancy. For Benjamin, love is inextricable from loss since his path runs counterclockwise to nature. This unsettling, melancholy notion is attached by the thinnest thread to its original literary source, a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But in the hands of director David Fincher, and with Brad Pitt as Benjamin, this Button is a curious case indeed: an extravagantly ambitious movie that's easy to admire but a challenge to love.


A remarkable and splendid movie. Beautiful, I must say. I wonder why some think it's boring and UN-entertaining, like a review as such:

Unfortunately I'm not a professional movie critic and belong to a small group of people who come to a movie theater to enjoy the movie as a whole. I really don't care about who directed the movie, what are the names of actors, what are the special effects in the movie or how wonderful are costumes or light. I want some entertainment from the show, some story that touches me somehow. And as you can guess this one was not entertaining at all. It was plain boring. Everything was so unnatural and predictable. The original short story was probably indeed too short so it was a challenging task for writers to fill 2+ hours of the movie. Of course they connected the dots and filled the gaps but no, it didn't bring any value to the movie. Everything from this movie was seen so many times before.

Of course this is not 1 out of 10 movie - 3 out of 10 is probably a more realistic grade, but I'm sick with the rating distribution so biased toward 10 (check for yourself).

And please don't tell me about Gold Globes or Oscars. "No Country for Old Men" was also nominated but it didn't make it any better as a movie. And no, I'm not a person enjoying stupid action movies with car races and meaningless violence.

The bottom line - it's not a masterpiece but a very average ordinary movie. Not entertaining at all. Sigh.

Review gotten from IMDB.com

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is indeed a masterpiece in its own. While many may refute such a statement and pass this movie off as being boring, I say that it in its simplicity is not close to being boring at all, but more than entertaining and definitely thought provoking.

While watching this issue, I wondered: what does it feel like when you're growing old and you are about to die. You know you are going to leave, sooner or later, you just don't know when and how. You wish you die a certain way, but we all know you don't get to dictate the form of your death. You may suffocate, you may go while asleep, you may faint and knock your head against something sharp, you may lose consciousness while crossing the street, you may be staring into your beloved's eyes but suddenly find your world dark without realizing any transitions... But what does it feel like?

I wondered: what does it feel like to hold your beloved and look into his/her eyes without remembering him/her? When he/she asks you his/her name, you stare, trying to remember but that special name, that very special name that you have been saying and thinking about so many times, perhaps as familiar as yours, but you just simply can't remember that special name?

What does it feel like to look into your beloved's eyes and ask him/her your name but that person just can't seem to remember. He/she may stare into your eyes, may look elsewhere, may try to remember, but all you got was silence. How does it feel like?

How does it feel like to be different from everyone else? While others are jumping about, while others have beautiful, perfect skin, you have ugly, wasting, deteriorating, wrinkling skin, and you can't even walk and jump with them! How does it feel like?

What does it feel like when you know you are different, you desire for somebody who is not like you, you can't help it but you know you will be alone? Do you give up? Do you persist? Do you insist that there is surely a way to get what you want, because somehow you deserve it? Do you believe in the sow and reap theory; the more effort you put in, the harder you work, surely you will get your prize - which is getting someone who is so different from you, when a normal person would have just given up?

What does it feel like to love somebody but you know that if you stayed longer, you will be a burden to that somebody? What does it feel like to know that you are someone's burden? What does it feel like to think that perhaps loneliness is meant to be for you?

What does it feel like to be left alone because that person believes he/she is different and he/she is a burden when you think it is not now? You can't tell the future, you certainly would try to predict it. And in all your foolishness, you come to a conclusion that things will be under your control, but can and will the future be so? What does it feel like to trust in someone but that someone is just going to leave you, and you are all alone to face the harshness of your reality alone? The reason you told someone your secrets is because you know that at least someone knows and understands what you are going through, and that person can be your pillar in times of need. But what if that person leaves? Won't you be alone all over again? And you have to go through that cycle of trustable-friend search all over again?

What does it feel like to discover your parent didn't want you because you were ugly? Will it horrify you? Will you plunge into a state of deep self-pity? Will you be sad? Will you cry? Will you accept it and nod your head while saying, "Yes. It's true. I'm ugly"?

What does it feel like to discover your parent left you because your parent didn't want to be a burden and claimed that it was for your good when you had no power over the situation and no say at all? What if one day, after years of not knowing your parent, you see postcards of how much he/she wished to spend time with you, or tell you not to be involved in a relationship, or tell you how much he/she wished he/she could spend time with you, to joke with you, to call your name, to you he/she loves you... how does it feel?

What if everything you are is everything you hate? You may tell yourself that there is surely a chance for change, but do you have that faith?

I wouldn't say this movie is slow-paced. It had its fair share of suspense, thrill, and romance. I wouldn't say this movie is boring. It was very interesting. Only if you knew how to watch. On the other hand, I find no entertainment in watching movies like "Meet the Spartans" or "Epic Movie". First of all, there is no sense of originality. You just take someone's original idea, turn it and give it a little twist, change the actions, try to join all of them together in a (so-called) creative way, rename it, add stupid lines so that you are consistent in your comedy (or rather, stupid movie), and call it your own... Don't they just show how shallow-minded you are? I would rather go for something original, different...

How often do you find a movie that is very different than other normal, cheesy story? The hero fights all evils, good triumphs, the hero gets the girl, kisses (and maybe have sex) and lives happily ever after... the end. Wow. Life must be pretty predictable, eh?

I can go on, but personally, I think this is one heck of a beautiful movie. While I don't feel emotional while/after watching it, I did do some thinking. Speaking of which, some may tell me that thinking makes one's life complicated. But I disagree. Yes, on the surface that statement is true, but doesn't the absence of thinking make one's life meaningless?

You hear about people saying, "Life is harsh; you're going to get hurt anyway, so why not get hurt and move on?" or "When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade"... Don't all these come about because of some thought? You evaluate the consequences of not handling the harshness life brings, you think of your current situation, you analyze yourself and your personality and how it might be if things were to be handled differently, and you come to a decision. If thinking didn't bring about such quotes, then they must have appeared through a series of mutation. Ah, the process of evolution. Let's get education.

So does it make one's life complicated? Whose life isn't complicated in its own way? A struggling husband who finds it extremely tempting to sleep with another woman? A student who can't pass his/her exams? A child from the countryside who finds his mother ill and has to work to support the family? A doctor who can't save his family members from cancer? A boyfriend having a girlfriend just to cover his inner pleasure of wanting another man? A pastor who worships himself? A judge who bribes? Whose life isn't complicated?

Maybe life in its complicatedness is simple after all. After all, all is perception, eh? So who is to say whose life should be less complicated and who is to say whose life is complicated?

Here are some quotes I find very meaningful in the movie:

"Some people were born to sit by a river, some get struck by lightning, some have a ear for music, some are artists, some swim, some know buttons, some know Shakespeare, some are mothers. And some people dance."

"It's not about how well you play, it's about how you feel you play."

"We're made to lose people we love. How else will we know how important they are to us?"

"You can be mad as a mad dog at the way things went, you can swear and curse fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go."

Awards won:

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Makeup

Here are other reviews you might be interesting in:
Here is an interesting website about the movie you might want to look into: The Science Behind The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

For a clearer idea what it is all about: Wikipedia: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The verdict? Good.
Rating? 8/10


Suit Lin said...

sigh you have to wonder what it takes to have such a good story written, told and acted. :)

ah^kam_koko' said...

I think that this movie is a must watch mainly because of the lessons one can learn from watching someone start life the other way around.
I think this movie has enriched my life.

Jon Chu said...

YA! I agree!
But then, I don't know why many find it boring. ~.~