The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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rain Bard
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Postby rain Bard » Sat Dec 27, 2008 4:28 pm

Another technology theatres might want to install is a microphone and an electric current at every seat. Then, when a patron's decibel level rises above the rustling of a popcorn bag, the microphone will detect it and automatically trigger a debilitating electric charge to the occupant.

They could debut this technology for the release of the new Tingler remake, and see how audiences like it. If it proves popular, it could end up conserving one of the nation's most valuable resources: ammunition.

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Postby Penelope » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:47 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I have often wondered, Pen, why theaters don't employ those...it could be anonymous so people don't get mad at you. It would also allow people to report projector problems and other issues without having to get up.

I suspect they think people would abuse it, especially if, say, it was every seat. But if they had it at a specific location in the theater, it could be useful.
"...it is the weak who are cruel, and...gentleness is only to be expected from the strong." - Leo Reston

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Postby MovieWes » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:06 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I hope that little article makes some national news...no one was killed, so I kinda hope it happens more often...maybe then people will take this as a sign NOT to talk during the movie.

Amen. :D
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Postby OscarGuy » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:05 pm

I have often wondered, Pen, why theaters don't employ those...it could be anonymous so people don't get mad at you. It would also allow people to report projector problems and other issues without having to get up.
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Postby Penelope » Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:44 pm

What would be nice is if there was a "service button" that somebody could push to get an usher into the theater to shut up/confiscate the cell phone of the offenders.
"...it is the weak who are cruel, and...gentleness is only to be expected from the strong." - Leo Reston



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Postby rain Bard » Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:38 pm

Perhaps a solution to make everybody happy would be to equip ushers with silenced weapons. That way it won't be left to the customers, who may or may not have a loud gun, to shoot disruptive patrons.

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Postby OscarGuy » Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:27 pm

I hope that little article makes some national news...no one was killed, so I kinda hope it happens more often...maybe then people will take this as a sign NOT to talk during the movie.
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Postby rain Bard » Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:26 pm

My big pet peeve is people firing guns inside the theatre where I'm trying to enjoy the movie. The talking I find easy to ignore, but those loud "bangs" can really make it hard to understand every line of dialogue. I wish people could find a quieter way of settling their disagreements at the cinema.

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Postby MovieWes » Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:26 pm

I hate it when people talk during movies. It's so rude and disrespectful to everyone in the audience.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby Penelope » Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:18 pm

Phila. man shot because family talked during movie
By Barbara Boyer

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

A South Philadelphia man enraged because a father and son were talking during a Christmas showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took care of the situation when he pulled a .380-caliber gun and shot the father, police said.
James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29, of the 1900 block of Hollywood Street is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations.

"It's truly frightening when you see something like this evolve into such violence," said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.

Police were called to the Riverview Theatre in the 1400 block of Columbus Boulevard about 9:30 p.m. where the gunshot victim, a Philadelphia man who was not identified, told police a man sitting near him told his family to be quiet and threw popcorn at his son.

After exchanging words, Vanore said Cialella allegedly got out of his seat to confront the family when the father got up to protect them. That's when the victim was shot once in the left arm, sending others in the theatre running to safety.

Cialella then sat down to watch the movie. Police arrived a short time later and arrested Cialella and confiscated his weapon, Vanore said.
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"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster

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Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:30 am

The film is outwardly apolitical. It's basically riddled with homilies, each one more and more vacuous.

I can't hate Forrest Gump for its ideology as problematic as it is, but I can form an evaluation of it. Clearly, they are saying something which is that tradition and old-fashioned values can serve as compass to the greatest and the smallest, and compounded with the fact that the film is basically a satire that (d)evolves into melodrama is to its credit. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button teaches us that life is to be lived, changed, shifted, perenially work-in-progress...I like that. But it's almost fundamentally irresponsible like few films this year and it must be lovely to life your life like Benjamin and Daisy did for as long as they did. Benjamin Button has as little place in the world as he does in this film. Nobody knows what to do with him here and he doesn't seem to do a damn thing in the movie. There are ages spent doing god knows what. When he mentions what he does with his business, I asked myself "Oh, he was working there?" This film is an overlong commecial and if I dislike Slumdog Millionaire for its failure of Screenwriting 101, I have no choice but to nearly flunk Benjamin Button. Admittedly, this story is tough as hell to tell and Eric Roth is not the guy by a longshot.

You will not see a film with a less clear point of view this year than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Nobody is telling this story. If there was a clear point of view, I would know one of these people instead of none. The screenplay is problematic in ways I can't begin to describe and the solutions are so mind-bogglingly elemental. Is it a failure of imagination on Roth's part or intrusion on Fincher's to do some makeup fx-work on Blanchett? Fincher's greatest successes are Fight Club (in which his lead was perenially delivering snarkily expository v.o..) and Zodiac (in which everyone was cramming as much raw information into every scene as possible). He does not work in this mold.

I said it months ago and by God, do I believe it today: Slumdog Millionaire for Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay (ARGH!), Original Score and/or Song, and Film Editing. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup, and Visual Effects. It's The Aviator w/out acting nominations. If it gets acting nominations, then it's really The Aviator. I can easily see this film coming up bupkiss in the acting department. Pitt and Blanchett are basically perfume ads for their own sex appeal, and Henson never gets a good scene to really excel.
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:00 am

what a magical film. i say magical because that is what the film wanted to be. a fairytale, a fable, a poetic epic of storytelling. what it did not want to be was cute, or cloying, or maudlin. i understand the complaints of it being cold and distant, but i found myself wrapped up in the story even if i did not ever emotionally connect with the characters. the only person in the movie i actually cared about was queenie. her death was far more sad than benjamin or daisy.

in the end, i admired the film more than i connected with it. i would still say it offers competition to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE just due to its likelihood of dominating in the nominations and taking away the lion's share of awards on oscar night.

awards it is almost assured of winning--
costume
set
cinematography
score
fx
make up (if they allow it to be nominated)

awards it could possibly win--
best picture
director
screenplay

nominations without wins--
taraji henson
sound
editing

i honestly was not all that impressed with brad pitt's performance. i do not think it was bad, but he did not capture your attention like hanks in FORREST GUMP. as the main character, he seemed far too passive. i think the academy will probably not nominate him.

the film will have 12 nominations and 6 wins, but i think best picture, director, and screenplay will go to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.
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Postby Penelope » Thu Dec 25, 2008 9:34 pm

The thing that struck me--and somebody offer a differing opinion if you think otherwise--is that whereas Forrest Gump was praised in some quarters and eviscerated in others for its conservative ideology, Benjamin Button has none whatsoever. It's apolitical: Button just sails through 60 years of history without ever really commenting on it or even, it seems, being impacted by the ideologies of the era--the Roaring Twenties don't even exist (and this is New Orleans, the birthplace of the blues and jazz); the Great Depression makes no impact, it seems, on the old folks home where he lives; World War II makes for a single moment (and, sorry, but as a tugboat sailing the convoy route to Murmansk between 1939 and 1941, the entry into the war seems anachronistically delayed); the Cold War/America in the 50s has no impact either. We're left with nothing but touchstones: Carousel on Broadway, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

In a way, Brad Pitt is perfect for this piece: a perfunctory movie star playing a non-entity. Cate Blanchett is luminous, but the character has no depth. I've seen many comments that state that the Tilda Swinton section is the least satisfying, but, like Sabin, I found her to momentarily lift the film above its mere goodness. Taraji P. Henson is a delight, and, surprise, Julia Ormand gives possibly the most emotionally satisfying performance in the film.

After seeing this, I still think it's Slumdog Millionaire for the win.
"...it is the weak who are cruel, and...gentleness is only to be expected from the strong." - Leo Reston



"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster

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Postby Sabin » Thu Dec 25, 2008 9:15 pm

David Fincher doesn't really do "beats" does he? He doesn't really do scenes? To relish in Zodiac is to hurtled back into a different time and through editing tricks, sweeping camera movements, and an abudance of information feel a sense of thrill and awe. The same is rather true of all his films. It's true of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button but for the first time in his career, it's all wrong for the material. Button resembles Big Fish in a way, in that there is an emotional distance between myself and who can only be described as the ostensible protagonist Benjamin Button (in truth, the film has a rather splintered POV that is obonoxious; Hurricane Katrina is the new - pardon my phrasing - retard-on-a-bench). Both films work but they fail to rivet. I don't like the politics of Forrest Gump and a lot that goes with it but I was moved. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I was astonished at how unmoved I was outside of my own doing. The raw ideology of the film is so perfect for my current mindset, so sad, so hopeful, so romantic...so...so...so diametrically opposed to all that is Fincher-esque that it served its purpose for me as a special film.

But the beats, ah! The beats! Had no one mentioned to me that Fincher was the director, I would have assumed any number of filmmakers whom I do not admire. Underneath the surface is a welcome emotional restraint that I'm now attributing to the fact that Fincher is just too enamored with surfaces to get to the meat of the scene. The moments. WHEN someone decides to do something. WHY someone decides to do something. When Queeny tells the house doctor she will be taking dear little Benjamin, there is no why or when. When Benjamin rebukes the advances of gorgeous Cate Blanchett as she dances atop the stage, they are beautifully shot...but emotionally distance. He is mysterious. He is silhouetted. Why does he make what choice he does? This film is confused, maddeningly confused. Why do we need a framing device such as this? Whyever in a thousand years outside of convention? Following David Fincher's radical choice to eschew conventional scenework in Zodiac would lead one to at least assume that he would forgo something as easy as a framing device or no less than three actors used for voice-over. Why complicate things? It is as if Fincher learned all the wrong lessons from Zemekis' Forrest Gump.

The film's thesis believes profoundly in the power of the moment, the opportunities provided by life as we do that cradle-to-the-grave thing. So interesting is it then that the film's moments are the weakest thing in it. The supporting characters are all sub-Gump-ian as they notch off homilies one by one save for Tilda Swinton. Why she hasn't picked up one notice is beyond me. She is luminous and shows up the entire puppy-ish cast. Blanchett and Pitt are always serviceable and make for an attractively picaresque couple and in their scenes together one sees the film's (and humanity's) frustration at the unwieldly finite nature of life and time. It must be said then that Brad Pitt's Button is blank and whereas Hanks' Gump (last citation, I promise!) was an object of directed satire and that McGregor/Finney was a rambling story of self-deception unexplored (let's be honest? That guy fucked A LOT of women), the film never entirely knows what to do with the gentleman. It's certainly easier early on but as the film develops and the struggle of maintaining this admittedly fascinating conceit within the constraints of Hollywood product begin to show seams, the film starts to veer into a vague sense of destiny that it doesn't know what to do with any more than Slumdog Millionaire preaches to.

Ultimately, I felt as though David Fincher was using this project to convey different things than I necessarily want but in doing so and forgoing easy emotion for a distanced throttle through time. Do emotion and convention have to go hand in hand then? Does a film of such vast canvas need to take place in the past?
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Sabin » Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:34 pm

Armond White weighs in:


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Fincher should have rejected Benjamin Button for better Gatsby
By Armond White

It takes almost three hours for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to wind down and approximate the climax of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick’s fascinating image of a gigantic embryo floating in space and contemplating the Earth—then the audience—combined absurdity and magnificence. All mankind’s historical experience and scientific knowledge was distilled to a cosmic joke. Director David Fincher covets it, but Benjamin Button’s banal survey of big-L life—culminating in a hero’s return to an embryonic state—can’t top it.

The incredible story of a man who is born old and ages backward into infancy brings Fincher closer to his idol Kubrick. But it also exposes Fincher’s facile imagination. If Fincher was a socially responsive filmmaker, he would have rejected F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and, instead, adapted “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” a classic fantasy appropriate to satirizing the unquestioned materialism that Fitzgerald—while formulating his Gatsby vision—thought was key to America’s post-industrial-boom mentality. Fincher could have addressed contemporary economic/class divisions. But for a technocrat fanboy, Fitzgerald’s bizarre death-to-birth fantasy had more appeal: self-importance.

In this cinematic oddity disguised as a coming-of-age story, Fincher dodges any social or spiritual significance in Benjamin Button’s sojourn through the 20th century. It’s a tall tale with no sense of the fantastic. Solipsistic to the extreme, even its love story—Benjamin connects with Daisy (Cate Blanchett) midway through both their lives—is morose. Kubrick was a misanthrope, but Fincher’s fashionable nihilism means he’s made another movie celebrating nothingness. There’s no philosophy about living or dying. It’s all a somber, pointless technical exercise—or “process,” as Fincherheads defended last year’s celluloid void, Zodiac.

Indifferent to Fitzgerald’s ideas about society and ambition, Fincher falls back on Hollywood cliché—reworking both Titanic and Forrest Gump. Starting with Daisy in wrinkly old-lady make-up like Titanic’s Old Rose, the silly narrative is complicated with unnecessary flashbacks. Fincher’s hero passively inhabits decades, observing the father who abandoned him (Jason Flemyng), a sad adulteress (Tilda Swinton), the unattainable Daisy, a salty sea captain (Jared Harris) and other minor characters. Forrest Gump screenwriter Eric Roth must have been a little bored with another innocent hero, so the story emphasizes Daisy’s rootlessness (recalling Forrest’s beloved Jenny). This blatantly commercial framework disastrously unbalances the fantasy concept, emptying-out Benjamin’s idiosyncrasy and leaving Fincher’s assorted exercises in film technique as the main purpose. Like Benjamin, we can only sit back and watch the dollars being spent.

Fincher isn’t excited by the chronological cavalcade; each sequence becomes a technological set piece—on clock making, shipping, a caprice about fate that rummages De Palma’s Femme Fatale and a running gag about a man (not Benjamin) struck by lightning seven times—nodding to P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia. Apparently, Fincher is speaking in fanboy code while Roth’s insipid love story pacifies the rabble. Hard to imagine who’ll have the least fun.

Brad Pitt has none. With his head digitally placed on various bodies, Pitt displays less character than did Marlon Wayans’ CGI tour-de-force in Little Man—which hilariously said more about man’s stages of life. Benjamin’s a cipher. Watching him de-mature—or shrivel—into an embryo is a terrible movie idea. Pitt never ages into the sex god you expect; he devolves into an incurious, calf-eyed dweeb. The 20th century bores him. It’s just “process.”

Yet, because Pitt does consider himself a socially responsive film actor, he’s packed Benjamin Button with semi-topical references to Hurricane Katrina: It’s full of deprived Southern Negroes (especially Taraji P. Henson overdoing Benjamin’s Mammy). These superstitious but solicitous blacks don’t waken Benjamin’s awareness of Jim Crow; rather, they’re inconsequential—corny remnants of old Hollywood stereotypes.

It’s Cate Blanchett who gets star treatment. Horning in on Benjamin’s personal epic, unmagical Blanchett is the wrong actress to play an enchantress. Daisy, a quasi-Zelda Southern Belle, channels the worst Fitzgerald sentimentality. Vapid, imperious, hammy and off-putting, Daisy’s a ninny who name drops high-culture celebrities to justify her ballet-dancer aspirations. Shots of a ballet body double would be risible except Fincher keeps cutting back to Blanchett who’s heavy and graceless—a deadweight art-movie icon. Blanchett’s the perfect embodiment of Fincher’s pretenses. Benjamin Button’s real love story is between these apathetic aesthetes.

Their brazen self-involvement negates Brad Pitt into extinction. By the end, Fincher literalizes Kubrick’s iconic “starchild” as a zygote.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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