The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the story of a man who is born old and slowly digresses in age until he dies as an infant. Brad Pitt plays the main character, and he embarks on an oddball romance with Cate Blanchett, who plays Daisy. They meet as children, but their lives never seem to totally match until they reach their 40s at the same time. I liked the acting in the film a lot; Pitt and Blanchett do a great job of making this unreal situation seem believable. Critics agree that the performances are outstanding, and they have called it an epic fantasy. The film felt too long, though. Once you know the secret of Benjamin Button, and you realize that Daisy is his true love, the wait to see the story come to its conclusion seemed to take forever. With a run time of two hours and forty-six minutes, I felt like many of the longer montages in the movie could have been cut without sacrificing any of the story. Overall, it was a good film that just felt a little long.
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Frost/Nixon is a behind the scenes look at the preparation for and the taping of the David Frost and Richard Nixon interviews. Originally it was a Broadway play. Many in Hollywood have said that this film is the best of director Ron Howard's career, even better than his Oscar winning film, A Beautiful Mind, and I would agree. At first glance, the plot doesn't sound like it would make an interesting film, yet Howard takes the wrangling and manipulation on both sides of the famous interview and turns it into a tight, tense thriller. The acting by Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, both of whom played the roles on Broadway, is some of the best of the year, and their clashes onscreen give Frost/Nixon the dramatic edge that makes it a great historic film.
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Critics have rallied behind Slumdog Millionaire, a film by Danny Boyle that was filmed in the streets of Mumbai, India, as the best film of the year. It is the story of a young man, Jamal, who grew up on the streets and, against all odds, makes it to the final round of the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Accused of cheating, he is tortured and grilled about how he knew the answers, and as he tells the story of his life, we see how his life experience as a child of the streets gave him the answers. The film keeps you guessing about whether Jamal will make it through the final round and reunite with the love of his life, Latika. Slumdog Millionaire is one of the most hopeful films I've seen in many years. The adversities that Jamal faces are beyond the comprehension of most North Americans, but to watch someone who is unsure where his next meal will come from remain optimistic about the future is a great lesson. The sharp editing and clever script keep the story moving, and when I saw the film, the audience cheered and applauded at the end of the film. If you're unfamiliar with the rich culture of Bollywood, Slumdog is a wonderful introduction to that style.