No matter if it turns out to be a hit, is bombed by critics and audiences, or falls somewhere in between, one thing is for sure, The Great Gatsby, the reimagining of the great F. Scott Fitzgerld American classic novel by the king of glitzy stylized film aesthetic Baz Luhrmann, is one of the most anticipated movies this year. Anyone who has read the novel can contend that it is a story that smartly delves into the complexities of love, obsession, betrayal, financial status, and social appearances. While we wait for the wide film release, here are some of the best novel to film adaptations starring the cast of The Great Gatsby:
Leo DiCaprio (Jay Gatsby)
Revolutionary Road (2008) It was the movie that reconnected Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet after the massive cinematic hit Titanic. Based on the 1961 novel of the same name written by Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road depicts a married couple, the Wheelers, clinging to what is expected of them regarding ideals of family and career in the American society of the 1950s. We watch as their marriage slowly comes apart at the seams as they come to realize their hopes and dreams of an exciting life which once fueled their love are slowly becoming lost to them. Becoming the embodiment of a man unhappy in his marriage and career, restless with his own dissatisfaction, DiCaprio gives us his interpretation of the character of Frank Wheeler. And as Frank becomes defined by his many affairs and big talk of changing for the better, Leo DiCaprio showed us he can bring a sort of dignity to an otherwise undignified man. Though most of the accolades for performances that year went to Winslet (as wife April Wheeler) and Michael Shannon (as their mentally-disturbed yet surprisingly astute son of their neighbor John Givings), Leo DiCaprio did earn a Golden Globe nomination for his efforts.
*See also Leo DiCaprio’s take on another literary character, U.S. Marshall Daniels, in the great psychological thriller Shutter Island (2010) directed by Martin Scorsese.
Happy Thanksgiving (weekend)! I’m sure everyone is stuffed from having holiday dinner with their family or friends (as in my case). I’m presently stuff from eating some great food especially dessert which is my favorite. I made an caramel apple cheesecake that I think turned out quite great (I had two slices; you can make it too). And now that the main part of the eating is done (though there will be lots of leftovers for the weekend!), there is enough shopping sales to engorge ourselves on for Black Friday. Yeah, so Black Friday is my OTHER favorite holiday because… you know… i like to shop. See you out and about in the stores. Oh, and when you’re not busy with family, friends, and store deals, here are a few film-related links around the web and other fun stuff for you to enjoy….
So, I started my first little blogathon last month that asked people to connect two random actors I selected through the movies that they liked in six steps or less. I thought it would be an interesting game to gain perspective on the movies that people enjoy, note the different and interesting paths people would take, and test just how much people know about movies and the actors in them.
To remind you again, below are the random pairs of actors whoever wanted to participate had to choose from. I have included the responses I received with special attention given to my favorite from each.
James Marsden -> Denzel Washington *Running Reel(James Marsden -> Ryan Gosling -> George Clooney -> Vera Farmiga -> Denzel Washington) gmanReviews (James Marsden -> Halle Berry -> Spike Lee -> Denzel Washington)
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?
I’ve been out of the country for a week at a time when I am anticipating many movies being released so I have some catching up to do. Expect many more posts on double features this week because of this. In honor of the 4th of July, I did two of my favorite things - watched movies in the early afternoon and ate a whole lot of great BBQ (and burgers, and mac & cheese, and pork & beans… you get the point) with friends in the evening. Where movies were concerned, I wanted to mix it up so I picked one family drama sure to pull at my heart strings (People Like Us) and then the quintessential comic book movie with some action (The Amazing Spiderman). Read on for my thoughts on them…
Do See:People Like Us (Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Pfeiffer) I never claimed I wasn’t a sucker for sentimental films, and this one rightly appealed to me. I absolutely loved this movie which follows Chris Pine’s character Sam, a slightly sleazy yet totally lovable saleman whose troubles have come to a head - he is in terrible debt, he has made a huge mistake at work that could cost him his job, and he has just discovered that his estranged father has died. He is a guy that makes a habit of running away from his problems but situations forces him to deal with the fall out that arises from his father death - the discovery of his father’s secret family that includes an alcoholic sister named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and nephew that he never knew about, uncovering his mother’s involvement in these past secrets, and decisions on how to move forward in his relationship with his girlfriend (Olivia Wilde) and fully let her into his life. We are right there with him as he becomes “more of a person”, developing a relationship with his sister and nephew (without her knowledge of who he is) and coming to understand his mother and her motivations of wanting to protecting her family with secrets. The most beautiful part of the movie is watching the siblings interact and bond and learning about their separate but eerily similar situation of being their father’s children. The movie is crafted so that we come to want them to be in each other’s lives, that these were two people that really need and bring out the best in each other. It is the father who we never see but who seemingly pulls all the strings as his actions and decisions so impacted the lives of everyone on the screen. Yep, I teared up alot at this one, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I would also like to say that Chris Pine is on my short list of underrated and under-appreciated actors that are really versatile and amazing to watch, and this film further proved that for me. I saw him in a play The Lieutenant of Inishmore out in L.A. a couple of years ago which he was excellent in; that was when I really looked at him as a great actor, and I hope he continues with a few more independent movies in order to show his acting range.
Do See:The Amazing Spiderman (Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone) This short review has a caveat. Do see this film… if you haven’t seen or didn’t like the last franchise with Tobey Maguire (to which I ask, what is wrong with you?!?!?). Otherwise, you don’t really need to bother with it so much. I know alot of folks about there feel the same way that I do, that this movie came too soon after the last franchise. I think I went in to this alittle biased; I loved the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire versions (sans the third movie which was God awful. The second one made up for it though which I consider one of the best contemporary superhero movies), and I thought this one was alittle unnecessary. Is it a prequel? A remake? That feeling stayed with me the whole time I watched. Don’t get me wrong - I adore Garfield and Stone, two of the best young actresses we have right now (see: Boy A and The Social Network for proof for Garfield’s talent, Easy A and The Help for Stone’s) and they did some pretty great work here (though was all that great acting wasted for this movie? I wonder…) For me the chemistry between Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy was some of the best I’ve seen between love interests in superhero movies. It bordered on sexy. I loved it. Stone and Garfield both brought their characteristic lovableness that I enjoyed in all of the small moments they had on screen together. Other than that I didn’t love or was excited about this version of Spiderman. Peter Parker at many times came off too arrogant which didn’t for me meld with him being a nerdy outsider. The quest of discovering his destiny and his living up to his responsibilities, though core to the Spiderman story, was nothing really innovation from what we had already seen in the Sam Raimi version. The villian, The Lizard, wasn’t villian-y (is that a word?) enough for me. There was no real bravado or sense that he matched the wits and abilities of Spiderman. The action sequences? Yawn. Some some moments got me to sit up alittle straighter in my seat but that’s it. All in all, I’m not seeing the improvement on the last franchise that explains the quick reboot. What I will say about it is that I laughed so much at Stan Lee’s cameo in this one; it was so cute and funny. I love Marc Webb; he has given me one of my favorite movies (500 Days of Summer) and maybe because of his experience with that, the relationships between the lead characters were so good. I think they it suffered from not being original enough when it set out to be original. It would have been better off if it was a straight up prequel and ended where the 2002’s Spiderman began. What I want to know now is, what is going to happen to the only great thing about the movie (Garfield + Stone) when they kill off Gwen Stacy (if they follow the comics)?
I have to say I have only seen one maybe two movies in the theaters in the last two months or so, an absolute rarity for me. It have been pretty much due to the lack of new movies I have been interested in enough to see. Well that is all about to change next month with the slew of summer releases that are on the horizon and I couldn’t be happier. Actually, I’m ecstatic. Thanks to the good people over at EW who continue to publish awesome movie calendars so people like me can plan their theater outings. With almost 15 movies between May and August, this will be my busiest summer yet:
The Avengers: Yep, I’m planning to assemble with some friends and see this. I will just miss seeing it at Tribeca and will but in Europe on opening weekend but I’m rushing back to see this. If you are like me and missed some of the origin movies like Thor, AMC theaters are running a Marvel movie marathon on May 3rd!
Killer Joe: When a debt puts a young man (Emile Hirsch)’s life in danger, he decides to hire a contract killer, Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), to kill his evil mother in order to collect the insurance money. No trailer yet but this dark indie comedy premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival to good reviews, and I think it would be worth seeing.
Safety Not Guaranteed: This is my sweet and genuine comedy pick of the summer. The film is actually inspired by a real internet meme of a newspaper classified ad by a person seeking a companion for time travel (so how can this NOT be funny?). In this, three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed this classified ad. One of my favorite up-and-coming actors Mark Jake Johnson (New Girl) stars.
To Rome With Love: The next Woody Allen movie focusing on people’s experiences in Rome starring Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: A magical story of a 6-year old girl who lives with her father in a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. When her father contracts a mysterious illness which threatens the balances of nature, Hushpuppy goes on a quest to find her mother.This was not a film on my radar at this year’s Sundance as I usually avoid anything remotely close to fantasy films but after it won the big prize there, I have to check it out.
Update (5/5): The trailer is here, and its beautiful fantasy film indeed:
Magic Mike: Male strippers without shirts but with plenty of dreams in Steven Soderbergh’s latest starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey
The Amazing Spiderman: I still think its too early for a spiderman reboot (or is this a prequel? really?) but I can’t fault them. They had my money at Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
Savages: I think Oliver Stone is on the right track with this new crime drama starring Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Benicio del Toro.
The Dark Knight Rises: I have to see the next and last entry in the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise. It doesn’t hurt that Inception castmates Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-stars. Am I the only one still not 100% sure of Anne Hathaway at Catwoman? Watch the official trailer or see a (much better, in my opinion) fan-made trailer. A new official trailer is suppose to premiere before The Avengers so keep an eye out for it!
The Bourne Legacy: In this 4th Bourne film, there is more to the Treadstone project: Jeremy Renner!
The Odd Life of Timothy Green: This is my family film pick of the summer. A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. This characteristics are personified with the appearance of Timothy Green, but all is not as it appears. I’m curious to see the gentler side of Joel Edgerton (have you seen some of his past films?).
Premium Rush: A NYC bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city. I actually don’t think this is going to be anything more than just a cool looking action movie on a bike but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it… so… you know… gonna go see it. I actually stumbled across the film set last year so curious to see what they do with it to give it some substance.
Lawless (formerly The Wettest County): Three brothers (two of which are played by Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy) find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. No trailer yet but I’m already pulled in by the cast which also includes Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain.
Update (4/24): The trailer has just been released and it looks pretty damn good. I barely recognized Guy Pearce. Anyone thinks like I do that Shia LaBoeuf was born to play an outlaw?
“We didn’t have to look into your souls, we had to see if you had souls at all.”
Never Let Me Go
The Amazing Spiderman/Here it is. A new trailer for the upcoming movie The Amazing Spiderman. In terms of my reaction to this, let me go back to the beginning when it was first announced that they were developing a new spiderman movie only a few years after the Sam Raimi franchise. Plus, it supposed to be a prequel of sorts (huh?). Yes, the 3rd installment was far from good but as a whole I thought the Tobey Macquire triology was endearing. Cut to the announcements of the lead actors and the months that followed with press-released film photos and the teaser trailer. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as leads? Point-of-view shots of Spidey swinging? I have to say, I was starting to jump on board. Then I saw this trailer. Now, I do see that this movie will indeed have a different feel. It’s darker, brooding, and has a more technical, marital arts feel. Parker in some ways is more passionate, aware, and outspoken. However, I couldn’t put my finger on it but by the trailer, the beats of the film seem all wrong. As alot of the Peter Parker story has to do with his inner struggles, I’m not getting that here. The “Untold Story of Spiderman”? We’ll see. I’m starting to get the feeling that alot of people will go see this but it won’t be reviewed as well. What are your thoughts?