Tag Archives: Cate Blanchett

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

David Fincher directs this Oscar-nominated tale of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) — a man who was born old and wrinkled but grows younger as the years go by — with a screenplay adapted from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The plot throws linear conventions upside down to explore love, loss and memory from the perspective of a character living under incredibly unique — and unexpectedly difficult — circumstances. Cate Blanchett co-stars.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Every once in a while there is a director who comes along who is so special that we’re lucky to have been alive when they were creating films.  The first time I saw “Seven” I knew a new genius had arrived.  His name was Robert Paulson…err… David Fincher (If you’ve seen Fight Club, you’ll understand the joke). He has since gone on to do the underrated “The Game”, “Zodiac”, and “Fight Club” (One of the top 10 best films of the 1990’s;  I’ll do that list soon).  So, it was with little hesitation that I saw this movie despite its boring trailer.  Well, I was not disappointed.

Fincher is a marvel with a camera.  There is a visual style to his work that is completely identifiable and unique.   Every shot almost looks like a painting.  If that wasn’t enough, his work with actors and storytelling is equally good.  He was always known as someone who could make a gripping tale but rarely an emotional one.  Benjamin Button proves he’s adept at that as well.  There is an aura of originality to this film that is almost otherworldly, like a lucid dream.  You become involved with these characters and when their hearts break, so does yours.  It takes a talent to pull off that feat.  If there’s one criticism I’d point of this film, it’s that it does take a long time getting to the end.  I suppose it’s hard with a film like this where you could fall in love with every shot to leave some of it on the cutting room floor.

Robin Hood

In 13th century England, Robin “Hood” Longstride (Russell Crow) and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. And whether thief or hero, one man from humble beginnings will become an eternal symbol of freedom for his people. “Robin Hood” chronicles the life of an expert archer from his service in King Richard’s army in the crusade to Richard’s death. Robin travels to Nottingham after assuming the identity of a dead knight. Nottingham suffers from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation. Here he meets Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett). With their country weakened from decades of war, embattled from the ineffective rule of the new king and vulnerable to insurgencies from within and threats from afar, Robin and his men heed a call to ever greater adventure. This unlikeliest of heroes and his allies set off to protect their country from slipping into bloody civil war. Directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator).

Rating: 7 out of 10

This is not your grandpa’s Errol Flynn, swashbuckler in green tights. In some ways, it should have been a little more of that romantic, idealized character.

Instead, we’re given a very gritty Robin Hood who steals the identity of a dead knight, assumes his role as husband and son, and stumbles into heroism rather than a planned, gallant effort. We’re given the origin story of a soldier-for-hire, working his way through the crusades for King Richard (Danny Huston) as an archer. We’re given a little too much violence, which is odd for me to say because it normally doesn’t bother me, but there are a lot of battle scenes that get in the way of this picture and slow the story down.

The back story of Longstride is nicely woven into the story, and Crow gives a solid performance in a physically demanding role. This film has a great cast with Max von Sydow and Blanchett in strong supporting roles, and Oscar Isaac is delightful as the villainous Prince John. But the movie is bogged down by too much action and moves slowly at times. It’s 140 minutes long, and I’d bet that a good half is fighting which could have been cut way back and, streamlining the picture.

Check out the trailer for the Errol Flynn Robin Hood here: