When did the passive protagonist become desirable? I mean, Beowulf didn’t know interesting people; he was Beowulf!, that’s why they named the story after him. A hero’s job is to act. It’s the mass of humanity that lead lives of quiet desperation. That’s why we don’t (or didn’t use to) sing their praises. Be somebody – then be a protagonist. The problem with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is that – aside from aging backwards – its hero is as memorable as an envelope. He waits his whole life for a girl and then he turns into a baby. If he were a Viking they’d have fed him to something interesting. Illness does not make him charismatic.
T.S. Eliot once wrote that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood; whenever Bob Dylan spouts poetry in I’m Not There, it’s like the opposite (you understand he’s talking bullshit the moment you hear it). For those not there back when Dylan was Dylan, this new movie confirms your every doubt about the wheedling, wheezy 60s-era Woody Guthrie. The movie is like a badly told lie; it wants to convince you of some guys’ mystique, but all it succeeds in is sophistry. It’s like divining meaning from fashion magazine covers. Even as I try to write about it I get Dylan-y (adj. to speak in gnomic utterances; to put the sound of words before sense).