Director Baz Luhrmann had a vision for The Great Gatsby; a fact that can not be denied. What can also be said is that Luhrmann chooses to overwhelm the senses rather than caress them. Gone is much of the carefully paced momentum that allowed us to fall into the rhythm of the words of the wonderful F. Scott Fitzgerald and in its place is heavy-handed interpretation that is more spectacle than substance. Luhrmann and Gatsby become one and the same - men with vast imaginations that have trouble fitting into the confines of reality and overtaking even the best of intentions. My Grade: C
The story itself is one that has been revisited in many film forms. It describes the attitudes and atmosphere of the 1920s New York City through the eyes of Midwestern-born aspiring writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) who moves to fictional West Egg in order to learn the bonds business and make a decent living. It is there that he reconnects with fellow Yale grad, the old-moneyed Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) and his beautiful wife Daisy (Carey Mulligan) as well as meeting some new people in the New York City elite, including Daisy’s good friend, golf pro Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki). Soon, Nick becomes embroiled in the affairs of his neighbor Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), an enigma who first enters Nick’s life as a shadowy figure outside on the docks and then through widespread talk of the extremely lavish parties that Gatsby has a tendency to throw.
“Gatsby? What Gatsby?” No one really knows who Gatsby really is, not even the hundreds that flock to his mansion to take part in the parties and debauchery. For most, he is more myth than man, residing as the star of colorful tales in the minds and hushed gossip of the people around him. But Nick comes to know him like no other, becoming a pawn in Gatsby’s quest to relive his past and win back Daisy from the cruel and unfaithful Tom. You see, Gatsby has always strived to build the wealth and prestige for himself he dreamed of as a boy; it becomes somewhat of an inconvenience five years prior that he met and fell in love with Daisy before she met Tom. Now, being with Daisy is the motivation for everything he does, spurning on an obsessive hope that threatens to consume him.
My experiences with the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 though my camera lens:
1. Sunday brunch at Southern Hospitality, a BBQ joint in Hell’s Kitchen co-owned by Justin Timberlake; 2. Sam Rockwell and his (odd) poses for the photogs before the premiere of A Case of You; 3. The cast of A Case of You at the post-screening discussion 4. Alice Eve and Neil LaBute discuss Some Velvet Morning; 5. Justin Long on the red carpet; 6. A glimpse at Kiefer Sutherland pre-screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist;7. Both Mira Nair (director) and Mohsin Hamid (novelist) discuss both mediums of The Reluctant Fundamentalist;; 8. Cast and director of The Reluctant Fundamentalistfield questions from the audience; Kate Hudson looks great!
» Aaron Paul: From me, the admiration started with his recent, more serious turn into indie film with the 2012 Sundance hit Smashed (which recently ended its theatrical run) and it continues as I make my way through the seasons, by way of marathons, of the critically-acclaimed TV show Breaking Bad. Let’s just say I’m coming to understand the Emmy win. I hope to see more of him in the future.
» “Pride & Prejudice” (2005): I adore it, which is evident by the fact that I have rewatched it at least 20 times since Christmas. Yeah, yeah, many people feel that this one was inferior to the 1995 BBC miniseries with Colin Firth, but I wholeheartedly disagree. It stands as a brilliant modern interpretation of the story yet still retains that beautiful romanticism, innocence and decorum of the time. Sure, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy take on slightly different characterizations; Knightley doesn’t hide her dislike behind polite smiles but harbors alittle more hostility, and MacFayden (who has been given a bum rap; he’s so great in this, just pay attention to all his subtle movements) captures more vulnerability of the character. It all works for me though. Couple that with the stunning score that heightens the emotions of the tale and the beautiful direction by Joe Wright as the camera effortlessly moves through rooms to capture looks, interactions and exchanges, and you have a masterpiece. As this year (specifically January) marked the 200th anniversary of the publishing this Jane Austen work, I think this film deserves some recognition.
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”
[A young Pakistani man is chasing corporate success on Wall Street. He finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family’s homeland.]
Has anyone read the book that this movie is based on by Mohsin Hamid? I haven’t but I’m really curious whether I should before I see this intriguing movie. The film co-stars Kate Hudson as the man’s American girlfriend (anyone else thinks she was miscast by the looks of the trailer?), Liev Schreiber as his boss on Wall Street, and Kiefer Sutherland as an American journalist capturing this story. It seems take a very humanistic approach to remind us there are there still exist a huge clash between American cultural and religious beliefs and those of the Eastern world. The Reluctant Fundamentalist recently opened the Venice International Film Festival in fall 2012 and is set to get theaters soon.
[This sequel to Sin City (2005) weaves together two of Frank Miller’s classic stories with new tales in which the town’s most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more repulsive inhabitants. Dwight is hunted down by the only woman he ever loved, Ava Lord, and then watches his life go straight to hell. Chronologically, this story takes place prior to some of the events in Sin City and explains how Dwight came to have a dramatically different face.]
Have you ever compared the visuals of Sin City to the graphic novel source material? If you have, you would understand how brilliant this film is. Frame by frame, Robert Rodriguez took Frank Miller’s vision from the page to the screen. Sin City is dangerous. It’s modern film noir. It gets under your skin and makes you uneasy. It’s irresistibly compelling. It’s a star-studded piece of great filmmaking. I can not WAIT to revisit this world again I will miss Clive Owen though in the role of Dwight, but I’m interested in seeing how Brolin chooses to play a pre-Owen Dwight. Sin City 2 is set to hit theaters October 4th.
If I had to name my one cinematic moment of 2012 that was my absolute favorite, it would have to be the 5 minutes of Anne Hathaway singing this song in the 2012 film version of “Les Miserables”. It is a breathtakingly beautiful moment when amazing direction, acting, and singing all came together. I tear up everytime. I love all the emotion and that “what has happened to my life” whisper through song. Oscar gold, Hathaway.
If you’re not familiar with the famous French novel by Victor Hugo, the musical, or the film, let me set it up for you. Hathaway plays Fantine, a poor factory worker who relies on her wages to take care of her secret illegitimate daughter Cosette, who was sent to live with an inn keeper and his wife. Her daughter’s father abandoned Fantine after a short affair; it’s up to Fantine to make ends meet. When she her secret is discovered, she is fired and is forced into prostitution to make money. In this song, Fantine reflects on her broken dreams, the state of her life, and her lost love.
[From the uniquely imaginative mind of writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann comes the new big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, which follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of thehis cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super-rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.]
I’m still crushed that this movie was pushed back and that I have to wait until May 2013 to see The Great Gatsby (starring an impressive cast headed my two of my favorites - Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan) but I will have to contend with this newly released still from the movie to go along with the great stylized trailer that marries contemporary pop culture and music to this classic work of literature (see: Baz Luhrman’s other works including Romeo+Juliet). Anyone who has read the book (I can say that now as I read it a few months back in anticipation for the film; it was such a great read) can contend that the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy is one that smartly delves into the complexities of love, obsession, betrayal, financial status, and social appearances. Truly, love is blindness.You can also see a first look photo of the cast here.
Last week I was flipping through the channel and landed on the film Never Let Me Go on HBO. I’d seen it before when it was released in theaters back in 2010 and thought it was such a beautifully sad and touching film. Of course, the longer I remained on the channel, the more I was sucked into watching it again. The story is such a brilliant one, I wish I would have read the book first, and based on the caliber of the movie, I’m sure it would of made my list of my favorite books to film adaptations. Based on the critically acclaimed book (one of books of Time’s Best 100 Books of All Time) by Kazuo Ishiguro, the story centers on an alternate timeline where humans are able to live well beyond the current lifespan. This is possible through the use of clones who donate their vital organs to those they are modeled on. And in this world, special boarding schools care for these clones until their reach adulthood and the donation process begins. Through this narrative, we meet Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightly) as children and follow them as that get older and move closer to their ultimate fate of “completion” (It’s not even called dying, as if this is too human of a word). As we do so, we as the audience are left to wonder exactly what gives those the right to play god and just what makes us human. Is it friendship? Jealousy? Curiosity? Compassion? Duty? Love? Within the relationship of these three and how they interact with the world, there are all of these emotions and societal forces. They created a community with each other and others like them; they formed relationships, manipulated them, cared for others, enjoyed the beauty of life, longed for redemption, and were moved by grief. In the end, however, it isn’t enough to prove just how human they were.
The irony of this is heavily apparently in the last words of the film, spoken by Kathy:
“…What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
I have never wanted to read a book after seeing the movie but I may have to in this case. Watch the trailer below if you’re not familiar with the movie.
Have you seen this film? Read the book? What are you thoughts on how this story speaks to humanity?