December 2, 2008

All about the Benjamin

I've been lax in my blogging duties lately. I apologize. I think it's partly because I knew this post would be my 200th - would it look more momentous if I spelled it out: my two-hundredth post? No, I guess not.

The point is, I was trying to save up for a high-quality update worthy of this mini landmark in blogging. But it turns out this is the best I could come up with:

Yeah, it's expensive as all get out to live in L.A. But it's worth it because (1) the weather is close to perfect and (2) free movie screenings, baby!

Last year, somehow, I got myself onto a list to receive email invites to screenings, and for whatever reason, those invites are picking up heading into the end of 2008. Last night, my indescribably beautiful wife and caught a sneak preview of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (high-def trailer here), which doesn't even open until Christmas! Now that's a preview. Next up is a freebie of Defiance, later this week. Don't worry, I'll report back on that one.

(Last night's screening was held at the Directors Guild of America's headquarters on Sunset Blvd. We'd driven by the building about 100 times before and never noticed it, which is strange because it looks like this.)

As you may know by now, TCCBB follows the life of Pitt's character, who is born a tiny old man and ages in reverse.

The title of the film comes from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story on which it's based - well, very very loosely based (really the only leftovers from the original text were the character named Benjamin Button and the idea that he grows younger). So the title made sense. But I kept wondering if they considered renaming it to something like "In Which Brad Pitt Just Keeps Getting Better Looking For The Better Part of Three Hours."

At one point, when Pitt comes on screen having un-aged a few more years, appearing now to be in his early 20s, two women sitting behind me just laughed. I'm postive that what made them laugh was the absurdity of watching Brad Pitt's rugged good looks improve right before their very eyes. Unquestionably, they figured they'd already seen the guy at his most movie-star handsome: How much gorgeouser could he get? This isn't like a weird male crush observation - I'm just giving you the cold hard facts, people.

As the movie went on, I kept thinking that it reminded me an awful lot of Forrest Gump, and when the movie was over and the screenwriter came out for Q&A, I figured out why. Said screenwriter was Eric Roth, who also wrote Gump, and a few other pretty memorable flicks. Gump and Button are definitely not the same movie, but they share several major elements - the short moment-in-time episodes, the way they use a narrator and flashbacks, a star-crossed love story and, in the background, the evolution of American culture throughout the 20th century. (Or twentieth century, if, again, you find that kind of thing more momentous-sounding.) Which is to say that if you liked Forrest Gump, I think you'd probably be safe with a trip to see the Button.

Two more quick asides before I get to my patented Six-word Movie Review.

1) For no apparent reason, the movie had a weird scene that involved Teddy Roosevelt watching some blind clockmaker (the guy was blind, not the clocks) install a big clock in a train station. The clock worked backwards, which matched the theme of the movie, but the whole storyline, which set up the movie, seemed pretty extraneous. Why am I telling you this? Because Ed Metzger, the dude who played President Roosevelt, has apparently carved out an interesting career playing dead famous guys, including Einstein (at least five times in different TV shows and movies!) and George Washington. Weird, I know, but cool.

2) Most of the movie takes place in New Orleans. But Fitzgerald's story and - according to Roth himself - the original screenplay were set in Baltimore. The Cajuns offered the filmmakers a better financial deal, so they took the production down to the bayou. Nice goin', Charm City: You could've had Brangelina and Cate Blanchett hanging out at Bertha's Mussels and Ravens games! Opportunity missed.

Good god, this post is almost as long as the movie itself. Before I overdo it, ladies and gentlemen, your Six-word Movie Review!

The film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The six-word review: Reverse in story love Gump-like melancholy.


JBhumitra said...

you must tell me what website it is that you joined to get invited to all these free screenings.

i actually went to the forest gump premiere. i was little, and somehow my dad got tickets. i met everyone in the cast, and it was very cool. tom hanks stole my pen when i asked him for an autograph.

Your escalator operator said...

Awesome story about Tom Hanks!! I'll email you abou the group.

bugs said...

good 200th blog. ahhhhh....brad pitt. lovely lovely looking man. there are other cities that host movie premieres, jack.

Your escalator operator said...

Yes, but did I mention we get to go for FREE?