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Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Alternate Title: Tempus Fugit

Story: It is rare when a movie can make me both think and feel but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button directed by David Fincher did just that. How a man lives his life in reverse by being born old and aging backwards towards infancy is the premise of this film. Written by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald we get a unique entertaining cinematic experience.

How often have you said 'if I only knew then what I know now...' is part of the surprise of this magical film. Here is an old man who has the wonder of a child and as he ages towards youth, has the wisdom of old age. His life, his loves, his losses are seen in vignettes tied together in the reading of his diary.

Everything worked in this film. Claudio Miranda, director of photography gave us sumptuous visual treats, and the production values were top notch. The spectacle of CSI is something I do not want to fully understand - I just want to sit back and be entertained by the end product.

The film develops at a slow pace but if you have patience you will leave the theater a little better for watching. The reading of Button's diary happens as Hurricane Katrina bares down on New Orleans. I could not help but think, a storm is coming - carpe diem.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L6K3fkwr-Y

Acting: It was difficult to wait until Brad Pitt actually aged backwards to become the public face that we know and love and when he did - you could hear an audible sigh from the audience. Both men and women sigh when they see Brad Pitt. He was terrific in this role, regardless of his age. Sigh. Cate Blanchett as Daisy was ravishing. She is an amazing actor, can do no wrong and can play any part. Taraji P. Henson as Queenie was priceless. Kudos to her. Julia Ormond as daughter Caroline was underutilized but is interesting to watch. The ensemble cast were all terrific including Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas, Tilda Swinton and Jared Harris.

Trivia: Director David Fincher has been close friends with Brad Pitt ever since working together on Se7en (1995). While growing up in Marin County, one of his neighbors was George Lucas. He later worked on the special effects crew of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi by Lucas. After completing work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the role of Galadriel, Cate Blanchett kept and bronzed her elf ear prosthetics. Four of her five Oscar nominations are for playing real people (Queen Elizabeth I, Katharine Hepburn and Bob Dylan). Julia Ormond starred in three consecutive films in which she is caught between two or more men: Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, and Henry Thomas in Legends of the Fall (1994); Sean Connery and Richard Gere in First Knight (1995); and Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear in Sabrina (1995). The Congolese pygmy, Ota Benga, featured in the film, is a true story. He was a resident in the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo in 1906. For more details on this story go here. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/06/nyregion/thecity/06zoo.html

Predilection: I like Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt.

Critters: A hummingbird, a mouse and a long lived dog.

Sex Spectrum: Sex plays a role in the film but always done tastefully with rarely a body part displayed.

Soundtrack: A lot of piano tinkling throughout the film.

Opening Titles: None. All credits are at the end. There is an interesting opening segment about understanding time.

Visual Art: Splendid production values throughout. The flavor of the decades were marvelous. There was even a flashing moment when my famous corner of the world, the Flatiron building, was shown during the first half of the 20th century and they got it right. My apartment building was not shown but the building that was at this spot, before it burned down in 1968 was shown instead.

Theater Audience: A packed Christmas day crowd. But so silent you could hear a pin drop. When the few laughs were expected, they all came as one.

Weather: All kinds of weather is shown. Even the impending Hurricane Katrina.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: Anything with the word 'curious' in the title demands at least a 1 for a quirky factor.

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: It could have been edited down by at least 20 minutes. That might cause some people to drift. I did not drift at all.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: I wept like a baby even though I knew exactly what was going to happen.

Oscar Worthy: Yes

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure.

Length: Overly long at 2 hours and 47 minutes. Bladder alarm.