According to my notes, I read The Time Traveler's Wife early in 2005, just shortly before this blog began. (grin) So no link to an earlier "review". TTTW is something of a polarizing book -- people either are enchanted by it or hate it or got bored by it. To me, it was a fascinating riff on time travel and a lovely romantic love story. And a very unappealing way of living. (grin) But if you could accept the premise, the story follows itself to a logical and rational conclusion.
Then there's Forest Gump, both the book and the movie. The book is satire and unrealistic. The movie has some neat features and performances, but it is (a) sanitized from the book and (b) still pretty damned unrealistic. Neither is my cup of tea. Tom Hanks got a lot of accolades, but for my money Gary Sinise was the best bet. Otherwise I have no desire to ever watch the movie or read the book again.
Which leads us to Friday and heading off to see...
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [PG-13]
Celebration North, Theatre #2, 1:30 pm
When I first saw this trailer, I thought "This is a film I want to see." Not particularly a Brad Pitt fan -- I still think his best work was in Twelve Monkeys -- but I love Cate Blanchett. And twisting around time (aging) and romance in a way which made me think of The Time Traveler's Wife is something I wanted to see. Or maybe the idea of someone "youthening" as King Arthur's Merlin was alleged to have done had an appeal. This morning I was reading part of the review in the Grand Rapids Press and we decided that if we were going to see a movie this weekend, it would have to be now on Friday before the weather turned bad.
We both liked this movie. A lot. Much like Fried Green Tomatoes or even Titanic, we have a romance and a mystery (of sorts) told through the eyes of a wrapper story -- this time set in a New Orleans hospital on the eve of Katrina -- and with lovely and long period segments. The casting is superb and running a lot of people through a lot of years, both forwards and backwards (grin), is quite successful.
I love period pieces. And the device of using the old age home and its residents and staff, instead of making a tabloid-type spectacle of Benjamin's condition, gives us a comfortable home to operate out of. I've hung with artists, actors and dancers, and the Manhattan dance scene even in an earlier era rings so very true to me. And while we worry about exactly what has happened in Paris, we are treated to a recitation of a convoluted chain of events, complete with a recap, until we are finally faced with the inevitable result. Fun.
And yet this is not your conventional romance. It can't be. There are choices made in several instances, which in hindsight are probably the right choices, but that doesn't make it easy. It doesn't make it as your basic storybook romance. And that's all right with me.
Some people have criticized this film as another Forest Gump, mainly because the screenwriter is the same guy. Roger Ebert's review goes on about how Benjamin's condition determines everything, much as in Forest Gump. He also couldn't deal with the lack of life experiences for Benjamin. I don't buy either argument. Explain to me how someone with Alzheimer's gains from their life experiences. But you can still make a profound film about that -- see Iris. And if this is Forest Gump just because it covers a life and has some weak links to historical events, then you can't make ANY film about somebody's life without it being Forest Gump.
This film is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The full text is available from the University of Virginia. I read it and frankly the Fitzgerald story is the Forest Gump here. Unrealistic and biting. Much like Bladerunner, I'm not sure how the hell they got from short story to film, but I'm not complaining. Had they done the movie literally, I'd have hated it from the get-go.
Thank goodness they didn't make that movie.