Spanning from WWI to the 21st century Eric Roth’s screenplay (based loosely on a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald) tells the unique story of a man named Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt). He is born in New Orleans as a very old baby the equivalent of a man in his 80s who then ages backward into youth over the better part of a century. The film is told in flashback by a very old dying woman Daisy (Cate Blanchett) who recounts her tale to her daughter (Julia Ormond) from a hospital bed during Hurricane Katrina. Left on the doorstep of a retirement home one night by his father (Jason Flemyng) Benjamin is brought up by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) who runs the place. While there he meets a young girl Daisy who will become a key figure -- romantically and otherwise -- in his life. Ben does have some grand adventures: He goes to work on a boat sees sea battles during WWII finds love with an older married woman (Tilda Swinton) -- and gets progressively younger as the decades fly by. It all manages to be alternately haunting romantic funny epic emotional and incredibly moving and will likely to stay with you a lifetime. Brad Pitt manages to deliver a thoughtful and subtle performance through all the special effects makeup and CGI. He does so much just by using his eyes. Cate Blanchett is equally fine as she plays Daisy from a teenager to an old woman and matches Pitt in bringing an entire lifetime skillfully to light. Her aging makeup is completely natural and she’s very moving in the hospital scenes opposite Ormond. Henson is just marvelous as Queenie a warm and understanding soul. Swinton is elegant and memorable in her few crucial encounters with Ben and plays beautifully off Pitt. Jared Harris (TV’s The Riches) as the colorful Captain Mike who hires Ben on his tug boat and Flemyng (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) as Ben’s father are also effective in their brief screen time. Interestingly Benjamin Button has been gestating for decades in the Hollywood firmament but needed time for the proper technology to catch up to it. Director David Fincher (Zodiac Fight Club) with his early background at George Lucas’ ILM proves to be the perfect choice to marry a compelling story with spectacular visual effects achievement. He did not want to do the film unless the technology allowed one actor to play the role throughout the course of the film. Remarkably they were able to achieve this superimposing Brad Pitt’s face and eyes into all the incarnations of Ben Button. In one sequence Pitt looks just like he did in Thelma and Louise. It’s an amazing feat. He has seamlessly created a unique universe without ever bringing attention to it advancing the art of screen storytelling leaps and bounds ahead of everything else that has come before. Benjamin Button is a plaintive and provocative meditation of life death and what we do while we are here. It’s the stuff of dreams.
It seems television viewers are getting a little tired of their old favorite shows, and are not enthused about new ones.
Across the board, viewership for returning shows' season openers, including Friends, Frasier and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, all fell way below expected numbers, The Associated Press reports.
The audience for NBC's Friends season premiere last week was down by 28 percent from last year's season opener, while CBS' CSI: Miami was down 25 percent. NBC's Frasier fell 31 percent from last year, with NYPD Blue trailing with a 22 percent decline. Even the nearly 27 million people who tuned into television's most popular show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, saw a drop of 12 percent from last year's premiere, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Declaring a catastrophe at this time would be a bit premature, but if the trend for some of the most popular shows continues, it would be cause for concern with the major networks, Steve Sternberg, a television analyst for the ad firm Magna Global, told AP.
"These shows are aging," Marc Berman, an analyst for Media Week Online, also told AP. "People are getting tired of them. And they're not finding new shows that are intriguing them."
Overall, viewership for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox was down 3 percent from opening week last year, down 7 percent among the prized 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Much of the decline can be tied to Fox, which is holding off most of its premieres until after baseball season, AP reports.
Some of the new fall shows have shown some promise. ABC's Hope & Faith, the new sitcom starring Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford, had a strong start, rallying numbers for ABC's family-oriented Friday night lineup, as did CBS with its potential Friday night hit, the spiritual drama Joan of Arcadia. Also doing well for CBS was their own forensics drama offering Cold Case on Sunday.
NBC's Whoopi has faded, however, after a strong preseason start, while the network's new sitcom Coupling, as well as CBS' The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H. and ABC's Threat Matrix could already be in some serious trouble.
Sternberg told AP competition from cable networks is hurting the networks more than ever before. Over just the past two years, the number of channels available in an average home has jumped by more than two dozen to more than 100, he said.
"That is finally starting to have an impact where it hadn't over the past few years," Sternberg explained.
Somewhat surprisingly, FX's critically praised series, Nip/Tuck, scored its best ratings ever last Tuesday when competing against the season premieres of three broadcast dramas, AP reports.