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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

January 28, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Curious about “Benjamin Button”

Of the five Academy Award nominees for best picture, only one has found a wide audience: “The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button,” all three hours of it, has earned over $111 million domestically. (The numbers for the others, in order: “Slumdog Millionaire” $56 million; “Milk” $21 million; “Frost/Nixon” $12 million; “The Reader” $9 million.) It’s gotten the most Oscar nominations this year; at 13, it’s just one shy of the record held by “All About Eve” and “Titanic.” And, of the five top nominees, it’s the most polarizing.
I’m always fascinated by the way a movie (or, for that matter, any work of art) can affect different people in different ways. As a reviewer, you can only write about your own reaction — anything else is dishonest — and for me, “Benjamin Button” worked on every level: technically, emotionally, artistically. But I’m hearing, directly and indirectly, from a lot of people who didn’t like it, and am intrigued to know why. Was the length off-putting? Were the effects distracting? Was the very idea of a fairy tale that’s essentially about death just too depressing? Was it, as I’ve heard from a few, “too Hollywood”? And what does that mean, exactly?

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