Add to Queue 87: The curious case of shiny vampires

Media | A2Q Archives | The Author on Twitter | A2Q #87 | May 5, 2009

[[image:090505_ben.jpg:The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:right:0]]David Fincher is an incredibly talented director of cinema. Coming from the world of music videos, Fincher had an ignoble start in features with the much maligned Alien 3. Since then, we’ve learned just how much the studio meddled with the film, and most Fincher devotees don’t consider the theatrical release reflective of what Fincher’s vision for the film actually was. Still, if all he was known for were a terrible Alien sequel, no one would discuss his work today with any reverence. Luckily, his next movie put him on the radar of film fans the world over; Se7en was helped by a solid premise and even better actors, but it was Fincher’s technical mastery behind the lens that elevated it to instant-classic status.

His next film, The Game, disappointed more than a few people who were looking for more of the same. Fincher wasn’t eager to rehash him work, though, but The Game has come to be well-regarded — even if it’s not held on quite as high a pedestal as some of his other works. He followed it up with an incredibly divisive film that didn’t make much of a splash at the box office. Still, Fight Club had an enormous impact on pop culture. Working from Chuck Palahniuk’s incredible novel, Fincher brought to screen an adaptation of the novel that reinforced its themes and, to my mind, improved them — the film’s Tyler Durden does a better job of getting across his anarchic philosophy than the same character in the book. Fincher’s deft hand with the material made it easier for me to identify with both the narrator and Durden for the first half of the film, which made seeing how far Tyler ended up taking things that much more effective.

Next came the thriller Panic Room, a decent ride that’s ultimately unremarkable outside of how it’s shot — unusual for Fincher, and quite a contrast from his next work. Zodiac is the true story behind the still unsolved case of the Zodiac killer, and while it doesn’t necessarily work as a traditional crime genre film — the lack of real closure on the crimes something you probably couldn’t get away with if you were making a fictional film — it does work incredibly well as a character study of the people whose lives were indelibly touched by the events portrayed.

Fincher is a filmmaker whose work is always interesting regardless of his subject matter. So… why haven’t I taken the time to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? I’ve had several opportunities to see the film but let them all slip past. Fincher has had a strong partnership with Brad Putt, and I’m confident that Button is well-made and features strong performances. I’ll probably see the movie now that is on Blu-ray, but the fact is that the trailers did nothing for me. Worse, some critics compared the movie to Forrest Gump, a movie I detest. In other words, it’s a film I’m only going to watch because of the director. Were a different name attached to the film, I’d pass it over without hesitation.

[[image:090505_blu.jpg:5.5.09 BD wrap-up:center:0]]
I don’t hate Twilight. I don’t love it either. Truth be told, I find I don’t have very strong feelings one way or the other. I can’t be too mad at the kids of today for liking this stuff — after all, is it any more shameful than the Anne Rice books I read when I was an impressionable adolescent? Still, I can’t recommend you go out of your way to see the film. Unless, that is, you know about the wonders of Rifftrax. Having witty smartasses commentate on the film as you watch offers a definite improvement in my book.

Long-time readers of this column are already well aware of my love for Dexter. I’m happy to see the second season of this friendly serial killer drama hitting my favorite home video format. I’m also happy to have an excuse to revisit Dog Soldiers, a surprisingly good low budget horror film from a few years back. Neil Marshall, the director of Dog Soldiers, went on to create the completely insane Mad Max-meets-King Arthur genre picture Doomsday, so check it out if you liked that one.

Thanks for reading Add to Queue, GameSpite’s weekly round-up of US Blu-ray release highlights. Sorry, rest of the world; region locks are the industry’s way of saying they still don’t understand the Internet. Happy Cinco de Mayo! Cover art courtesy of Amazon. Follow Levi Tinney on Twitter, or add him to your PSN or XBL friends list: VsRobot. You can also contact him via e-mail via levivsrobot [at] gmail [dot] com.

28 thoughts on “Add to Queue 87: The curious case of shiny vampires

  1. The problem with Benjamin Button is that its fascinating premise, with all its possibilities, was ultimately squandered and made mostly incidental to just another sentimental story about a guy capering throughout the twentieth century. The script was indeed written by Eric Roth, the man who did Forrest Gump, and apparently, Fincher couldn’t do anything to dispell or redeem that fact.

  2. You realize that you’ve just publicly admitted to liking Twilight more than you like Forrest Gump?

  3. Neil Marshall also made the totally awesome horror flick “The Descent.”

  4. Dang, I forgot about Descent! I’m adding that to my Netflix queue, because now I really want to see that again.

  5. I don’t know, it might of been the marijuana affecting me, but I cried at the end of Benjamin Button, that shit was pretty sad.

  6. I really wanted to see Benjamin Button, but the day I had planned ot see it my friend sent me a video ( here’s the link ) that really made me change my mind.

    “If you see one version of ‘Forrest Gump this year, make it ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’. It’s exactly like ‘Gump, except no AIDS. Playing at a theatre near you… again”


  7. I should really watch Roxanne. It has Daryl Hannah and Steve Martin in their respective primes, and the gist of the story is endearing to me.

  8. I can’t comment on Stephenie Meyer’s literary prowess as I have pretty much NEGATIVE desire to actually read any of the Twilight books, but I’d argue that Rice still has a significant edge over Meyer in that she actually writes about vampires. For as much as she turns them into rock gods, at least Rice’s vampires can still, largely, only go out at night for the purpose of drinking the blood of the innocent. Meyer’s “vampires”- from the impression I get from the movie, at least- are just teenagers that are more surly than usual and addicted to body glitter.

  9. I have not seen it in a while, but Roxanne was great the last time I saw it. If you don’t watch it, at least go back and watch one of the film versions of Cyrano de Bergerac. The best scene in any of them is when Martin/de Bergerac insults a man for insulting his nose so feebly.

    I had no idea Aliens 3 was maligned. I have enjoyed all of the Aliens movies *shrugs*.

  10. Did Twilight really just come out on Blu-Ray officially this week? I’ve got no interest in the film, but stores around these parts have had it on the shelves since around the same time as the DVD release.

  11. I can’t hate too much on the Twilight series, as it’s actually getting my teenage niece to read. She doesn’t know it yet, but she has Terry Pratchett waiting on her for Christmas. Yes, it’s in a drastically different vein, but she has a sharp sense of humor.

    I tried to read the first Twilight book, and got about three pages in. It was just horribly written. Bland, uninspired writing does not equal teen fiction, people.

  12. TheSL – until this week Twilight on BD was a Best Buy exclusive product. If you saw it somewhere other than Best Buy they were breaking the street date.

  13. Man, I usually never comment here, but I gotta stand up for Twilight. My fiance is a teacher and it’s getting all of her students to read who don’t normally read. And that is a good thing.

  14. Wait, I thought Harry Potter had already gotten kids to read. Did they lose the habit as teenagers, so that Twilight pulled them back in?

    It’s also a good thing if reading Twilight leads them to seek out better, and more diverse literature. If they don’t grow past it, and go on thinking it’s the best thing ever, then it’s just tragic.

  15. You’re right to avoid Button if you didn’t like Forrest Gump, Levi.

    God, Season 2 of Dexter is amazing. I can’t wait for Season 3 to come out.

  16. As someone who’s seen Benjamin Button, it makes me sad inside that someone at Criterion spent time on this.

  17. I second that emotion, Nich. To think of the time they spent on “Button” when they could’ve been working on a “Rushmore” set instead. Bah!

  18. I guess coming after Se7en, The Game would disappoint some people. But I thought it was fun and well-paced.

    Then again my friends say my taste in cinema is terrible.

  19. I think Nicolia nailed it, the idea had so much potential but fell rather flat on its face. You never get a sense of what it is to go through the whole aging-backwards deal other then in the context of an occasionally tragic romance.
    You could call it the Curious Case of Benjamnin…BORING.

    On that cut of my razor wit, not even a mention of Ferris Bueller? Perhaps the best breaking of the fourth wall ever.

  20. >>Mudron
    I’m pretty sure that there is a Criterion Collection version of Rushmore already released..

    Hehe, “Brad Putt.”

  21. Yep, there’s a Criterion version of Rushmore on DVD (it was the first Criterion disc I ever bought) but it’s one of the few movies I would look forward to seeing Criterion knock out a new Blu Ray edition of. (Well, maybe that and Seven Samurai.)

  22. Nich posted: “As someone who’s seen Benjamin Button, it makes me sad inside that someone at Criterion spent time on this.”

    Did anyone read the essay at Criterion on Benjamin Button? Holy hell, what was that author thinking? I’ve seen several defenses recently, none of them convincing me this is the second coming of Welles or Ford.

  23. Any movie that has any creative relationship to Forest Gump whatsoever is not a movie that will be seen by me.

    I will never understand how people can watch that movie.

  24. re: Voytek

    I’m not convinced reading drivel is better than reading nothing at all, but ok.

  25. I think it is! At least 1% of those kids will move on to other good books when they might not have picked up a book before. Kind of like how 1% of people who listened to Blink-182 would then move on to Fugazi and the Clash. Or 1% of people who saw the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie would move on to Alan Moore books. Etc. etc.

  26. Benjamin Button was a brilliant movie with an absolutely amazing setting. I live in LA and think they nailed it. I could have lived without the Katrina nonsense, but the story was filmed beautifully and made me shed a tear, and it’s a CRITEREON disc for crying out loud, so why not.

  27. Every time I reread Terry Pratchett’s “Nation”, I think “now this is what young adult literature is supposed to be.”

    Then I remember that it’s shelved next to the Eragon series and Twilight and I cry a little on the inside.

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