#301- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Quick recap: Benjamin Button is born an old man and ages backwards, from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

 Fun (?) fact: There are several nods to the concept of ‘backwards’ in the film- a hummingbird, which is the only bird able to fly backward, and a hurricane which spins in the opposite direction depending on the hemisphere.

Even if I had hated this movie, I’d watch it again and again for young Brad Pitt

My thoughts: Before anyone else says it- logically,I know that 32 isn’t that old. I’ve never wanted to be one of those people that lied about my age or tried to ‘stay’ 25 until I was 50. But a few weeks ago, while in a hotel room getting ready to go out, I had a freak out about aging. I was blow drying my hair and noticed a (to me) huge patch of gray that had definitely not been there a couple of weeks ago. It was such a sudden change to my body and it took me by surprise. I don’t feel old but there was something about seeing myself age that terrified me. I’ve seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button before, back when it was in theaters, and at the time, all I remember was being impressed by the special effects. Had I watched this movie two months ago, I would’ve felt the same. But seeing it now, at this weird time in my life, it just means so much more.

By my estimation, the first 2/3 of the movie is largely forgettable. It’s not bad, but it’s also not profound. My main motivation for continuing to watch was to see how Brad Pitt would look next and when he would finally stop looking so old. The movie picked up towards the end as I finally understood the importance of the relationship between Benjamin and Daisy, his true love. I had grown tired of their ‘will they, won’t they’ issues and when they finally hooked up, I kept waiting for the shoe to drop and both to realize that this would never work. But that’s not what happened. The last 1/3 of the film explores the true consequences of aging- the fear of being a burden and the regret of missing out on life. The way Daisy cared for Benjamin in his last few years, until he was just a tiny infant was beautiful and spoke to the longing most people have-for someone to love them no matter what. Aging isn’t going to stop, nor should it, but it also shouldn’t keep us from opening up to those who truly care.

 

Final review: 4/5

Up next: Braveheart

#275- No Country for Old Men

Quick recap: Llewelyn Moss is caught in a deadly cat and mouse game when he stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong.

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But, like, more violent

Fun (?) fact:  While filming in Marfa, Texas, shooting was halted for the day when a cloud of dark smoke came into view. It turned out to be a pyrotechnics testing for the movie There Will be Blood, which was filming nearby.

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Only the Coen brothers could find the most perfect haircut for a maniac

My thoughts: It’s no secret that I love the Coen brothers. Or maybe some people don’t know,but that would be a totally lame secret to have in the first place,tbh. Anyway, I love them and they can do no wrong, not even with Burn After Reading, which I think is underrated. No Country for Old Men is a different monster, though. Many of the same trademarks are there, but this film just feels different. It’s darker, more violent and less funny than their previous projects. And it is perfect.

I don’t use the word ‘perfect’ lightly, except for all those times I’ve used the word ‘perfect’ lightly. But that’s just what this film is. I can’t find fault in it, not that I’ve tried really hard to do so. Take the music, for example. There is none. At all. And with most other movies, this would bother me. Not this movie, though. No music really heightened the feeling of dread I got anytime Anton Chigurh was onscreen, and it felt as though he could be outside hunting me too. The scenery is another home run for me, not just because it’s in Texas, but it’s the most gorgeous part of Texas. I’ve been talking about a road trip to Marfa for years now and maybe subconsciously I’ve been thinking about this movie and that’s why I haven’t gone. It’s so desolate out there and perfect for just the sort of thing that played out onscreen.

But really, just like any good Coen brothers film, I’m in it for the characters. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, but there doesn’t need to be. I still don’t really understand the ending but I also kind of like that. It is what it is and it always will be that way. That’s good enough for me.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: the Sins of Lola Martès

#252- The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Quick recap: A train robber, bounty hunter and really bad guy are in a race to find buried treasure.

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He may be bad, but oh my god is he gorgeous!

Fun (?) fact: Although the movie is somewhat of an homage to spaghetti westerns, it more closely resembles a genre of Korean films called  a’Manchurian western’.

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My thoughts: Seeing as how The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of the best films I have watched lately, I was really interested to watch this one. I expected it to be somewhat of a parody with nods to the original version, but it’s really not. The two movies have a similar structure and plot, but, and I know this is blasphemy to some, I enjoyed this one so much more.

My favorite aspect of this movie is how complex the characters are. The Good guy isn’t all good, while the Bad guy is bad, but with reason to be. And The weird guy is funny and klutzy but also amazingly savage when needed. And these traits are seen mostly through the actions of the characters because there isn’t a ton of talking. There is a ton of violence in this movie which I loved watching because there is great mix of guns and martial arts. There were some ridiculous moments, but I think that is in line with the genres this movie was paying tribute to.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird is set in 1930s Manchuria but there is beautiful mix of modern elements as well as elements from the Wild West. The music is also amazing and blends everything together perfectly. Basically, I loved this movie from beginning to end and I’m a little disappointed more people don’t know about it. It’s kind of like the Amelie phenomenon, where that’s the only French film many people know so it automatically becomes their favorite. For Korean films, I think many people could identify The Host, but this one deserves just as much credit.

Final review: 5/5 of course

Up next: 12 Angry Men

#241-Good Bye Lenin!

Quick recap: After his mother emerges from a coma, a young man tries to keep her from learning that her beloved country of East Germany has collapsed, out of fear that the news will kill her.

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Fun (?) fact: The story is loosely based on the last couple of years of VI Lenin’s life. Josef Stalin was afraid that excitement could caused serious health problems so he censored all media about the political issues of the time.

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My thoughts: Good Bye Lenin was all over the place for me: I laughed, I cried, I drank Coke. Seriously though, the Coke advertising was ridiculous. Was there some Coca-Cola invasion I missed learning about in History? I know that Texas can be sort of hit and miss about important facts children should know, but you would think this would be the sort of thing I would’ve paid attention to.

All joking aside, watching Good Bye Lenin made me realize how little I knew about the fall of East Germany and how complicated the whole thing was. I know about the wall and I could probably name some important figures, but what I never thought about were the people. Not just the fact that families could finally be reunited but how hard it must have been to transition to a democracy after having little to no choice before. These kinds of governments are awful, of course, but they provide a sense of familiarity and calmness, whereas a Westernized country is overwhelming. It made sense why the son, Alex,would try to shield his mother from all of it because he was having a hard time on his own.

Alex’s love for his mother was to me the most important part of the film. There were several funny scenes about the lengths he took to keep his mother from knowing about the fall of her country- from paying boys to sing Socialist songs, to creating fake news reports so his mother could watch tv. It was all done out of a fierce protection, but it was also done as protection from his own feelings. His mother was everything to him, but she also represented safety. In turn, I think Alex’s mother knew the country had changed long before he told her (which he never actually did. He created a fake story about East Germany letting West Germans in because they hated capitalism) but she too loved him so much that she let him continue the charade. The ending, which I won’t give away, was also beautiful and really tied the whole film together.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: One Upon a Time in China