Benjamin Button, Criterion Collection’s #476, gets released tomorrow both as a two-disc DVD and two-disc Blu-ray. But a lot of people seem to be up in arms over Mr. Button getting “the Criterion treatment,” mostly because it’s a new movie that hasn’t had a chance to stand the test of time. Why does it matter? I love the Criterion Collection and it amazes me how people get pissed when they realize a mainstream movie is being put on the Criterion label. What’s more, who cares?
David Fincher has proved himself as a director, not to mention the fact Criterion previously released Se7en and The Game on laserdisc the SAME YEAR they came out. In fact, CC released several laserdiscs that coincided with their release date in the 1990’s, so it seems strange that every time a new film gets picked up by Criterion, people act like such elitists. These are the same people that praise Robocop and The Royal Tenenbaums for having a Criterion spine number, but turn around and shun the fact that Armageddon and The Rock were also released (okay, they should’ve probably thought that one through more), but the point remains that Criterion has a pretty good track record and they’re eventually going to run out of classic and foreign films. I think there are plenty worse choices than Benjamin Button to complain about. I’m not saying Criterion hasn’t put out some questionable titles, but I doubt someone could collect their entire catalogue and not be completely satisfied for having such an extensive and important film library.
Also important, Benjamin Button is a pretty damn good movie. The directing was great, the story and screenplay were excellent, and the acting was far superior to some of the fodder most people go to see at the movie theater on a weekly basis. I think an important reason CC released Benjamin Button was because of their relationship with directors like Fincher; just like other directors that are still living and have a film on Criterion, most have the label that say “Director Approved” on the packaging. Criterion takes good care of the movies they inherit, so I have faith they’ll do a good job; I bet some of the whiners might even be taken by surprise.
The two-disc Criterion Edition DVD and two-disc Criterion Blu-ray include the following special features:
- Interviews with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett
- Audio commentary featuring Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher
- Never-before-seen footage revealing the innovative techniques behind the Academy Award–winning visual effects and makeup
- Step-by-step examination of the motion-capture process aging Brad Pitt
- In-depth exploration of David Fincher’s creative process on the set
- Interview with acclaimed composer Alexandre Desplat about the score
- Featurettes on the film’s storyboards, costumes, and Academy Award–winning art direction
- Stills galleries, including costume design and candid behind-the-scenes production photos
- Optional French- and Spanish-dubbed soundtracks
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, and optional French and Spanish subtitles
- PLUS: An essay by film critic Kent Jones
Based on F Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, the film is an excellent tale with excellent characters who provide an excellent performance. There aren’t many movies like Benjamin Button, which is probably why Criterion choose it as one of their rare inductees into their elite collection so soon.