Thursday, March 5, 2009

The "Surreal" Case of Benjamin Button

I watched "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

In some way, the movie is quite nonsensical and yet at the same time it sets you thinking about a few things.

First of all, a story based on reverse ageing is far from real. However, no one in the story seems to be starked by how a person could possibly be born old and then grows younger. Other than gawking at the ever more handsome face of Benjamin Button, played by Brad Pitt, the characters in the movie accepted the phenomenon as if it is not uncommon.

Their nonchalant manner makes the movie surreal.

I am aging. You are aging. We all are aging right from the time we were born. However, Benjamin Button was born with a 90-year old body. As the years pass, his mental age grows but his physical age reduces. So, he grows into a wise and mature youth and later into a little boy with dementia.

The whole idea is pretty confusing as Benjamin's mental age and physical age do not go in tandem. When he is 7 years old, his body is 83. When he turns 14, his body becomes younger at 76. So, his mental and physical age only coincide when he is 45.

I asked myself if I would like to be in the shoe of Benjamin Button. I could not come up with a prompt answer.

On one hand, looking younger each day without the use of any costly (but bogus) age-defying cream is too great an idea to dismiss. On the other hand, having a childhood with wrinkles and cataract seems like a very cruel start of life.

I am still confused and undecided. I guess I will leave the matter alone for now. It is not as if my choice will make a difference in my aging direction.

I noticed that Benjamin does not speak very much. I commented that Brad Pitt had a great deal as he did not have chunky lines to deliver. I was only partially correct.

What he did not say in many words, Pitt had to compensate with nuances of body language and complex emotions. However, that was not enough to win him the 'Best Actor' Award.

The movie received 13 Academy Award nominations but took home only three: Art Direction, Visual Effects and Makeup.

I suspect that the movie won the 'Visual Effects' and 'Makeup' awards without having to put up a fierce fight with the other nominees. I am convinced when I see the 45-year old Pitt being morphed into an old man then into a teen. The technicians have done a great job there!

In fact, the first visual effect that caught my attention was right at the beginning before the story begins to roll.

I was looking at the all-too-familiar 'Paramount Pictures Presents' and I couldn't help but noticed that the usual animation featuring a mountain in the back is now modified with the use of colorful buttons. Clever!

In his love life, Benjamin goes after Daisy, but in opposite directions. As he gets younger, at least outwardly, Daisy grows older. Their paths only cross when they are both in their 40s.

When a car accident ends Daisy's career as a ballerina, Benjamin shoots a string of 'If' questions which suggest that in life, one thing leads to another and it can get quite frustrating and helpless if we keep asking ourselves the "What If" questions.

What if the man did not forget to keep his alarm at 10? What if the taxi was not late? What if the driver did not have his cuppa? What if...

In the dialog, one phrase gets repeated "You never know what's coming for ya."

Indeed, the future is uncertain.

That gives some people the fear to look ahead but makes the rest wanting to look forward to the next day. In either case, time still moves forward and brings us to see things and people which cross our path.

Even if we feel that we are always on top of things, many of our life encounters remain unplanned and unplannable. Some will bring pleasant surprises but some otherwise.

I do not always like what I see everyday but I allow myself to choose between 'let it spoil my day' and 'trash it and move on'. I often choose the latter.

I reckon that if we are to walk down this finite path, we might as well enjoy every sound and sight along the way for we are never going to back to the same spot again.

For those who have watched the movie, I share my thoughts with you. For those who have yet to catch it, take this as the prologue to the 165-minute movie. For those who has no intention to watch, here is the plot.

Boring ? Thought provoking? The line can be thin. You decide.

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