Benjamin Button’s Travels in Time

Despite its 13 oscar nominations (or perhaps because of them) we did not expect The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to be so enjoyable. It isn’t overly sentimental and it isn’t Forrest Gump in reverse. In fact only Benjamin’s World War 2 adventures on a tugboat border on the preposterous plot of that popular epic.

Brad Pitt is very good. He holds his own in a very talented cast. However, he doesn’t warrant the academy award for best actor ahead of Mickey Rourke or Sean Penn. He would have had more chance of a supporting actor oscar for Burn After Reading.

It is hard to suspend disbelief in the early parts of Benjamin’s life. It seems a bit too much like Bilbo Baggins in old age. It’s easier after he leaves home as a fully-grown, if wrinkly adult. Later we are in familiar Pitt territory until his youthful James Dean persona becomes too young for his motorbike.

Cate Blanchett as Daisy gives her usual competent performance but is less than convincing as a ballet dancer. Eric Roth’s screenplay cleverly intersects their lives at critical moments for both characters.

The strongest of the female actors are Taraji P. Henson as Button’s mother Queenie and Tilda Swinton as his wartime lover Elizabeth Abbott. Henson (and Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler) is far more deserving of the supporting actress academy award than Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Elizabeth’s long distance swimming is a nice twist. There is a touch of irony in their younger woman/older man romance which is echoed by Benjamin and Daisy’s older woman/younger man encounter later in the film.

The psychological aspects of Button’s experiences are far more engaging than his physical metamorphoses. I wonder what Jonathan Swift or Oscar Wilde would have made of all this. Our society’s quest for eternal youth and the perfect body are the stuff of social satire. Burn After Reading is a good example. At times The Curious Case takes itself too seriously. It isn’t funny enough given its subject matter.

The reading of Benjamin’s diary as narration for the story is a tired device. However, the clever use of Hurricane Katrina as background to the unfolding episodes in Benjamin’s life overcomes the shortcomings of this cinematic cliché.

Don’t be put off by the inevitable preconceptions created by the film’s publicity. It’s worth seeing on the big screen.

Kevin Rennie

Midweek Mayhem

And what mayhem it has been today.  I do not have much time to put much in here – so be nice, and talking about other things that are of interest, or that you think may be of interest.

And here is a bit of self promotion. Mardi Gras is coming up, and I am one of the organisers for the Amnesty International LGBTQ Networks group for the march on the 7th of, um, March. If anyone is interested in joining us just let me know on here and I will foward details. And we do not wear outlandish costumes – just a simple t-shirt with our message (which is top secret at the moment). I will try and get the poster that we have created up on here later – just a bit busy now.

Breaking News: Opposition to oppose $42 Billion package

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has dropped a bombshell this morning by announcing the Coalition will block the Government’s $42 billion economic rescue package.

More on this later as the story develops. Back to you in the studio.

Costello as Lazarus, Turnbull as the Hollywood star?

Last night, the greatest PM that never was, Peter Costello made a spectacular and hilarious appearance on Lateline. Well, when I say hilarious – Peter laughed at his own jokes.

My favourite part was when Costello made an aside that Rudd’s essay in Monthly Essay will lift the sales. Now – I wonder how Peter’s biography is going?

Anyway – the point of this post is – are we seeing the return of the un-annointed king to the political spotlight? Does he think that he should be the rightfull leader of the Liberal party?

I wonder if we are heading for a Howard/Peacock type of power struggle where Peter is playing John (ex-treasurer, unloved by his own party) and Malcolm is playing Andrew (suave, rich, believes his own publicity).

Anyway – let’s keep all of the comment about Costello in this thread.