May 15th-26th marked the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival, pretty much the most famous and exclusive film festival in the world (the only one not opened to the public at large, only press and local residents). Maybe one day I’ll be able to go and simultaneously take in the splendor of the south of France in springtime and a brilliant comprised list of film programming. A girl can dream. Here are some of the highlights from the 2013 Cannes Film Festival including photos, trailers, a summary of critic reviews, and the winners of the top prizes.
The 2013 Jurors
In order words, the award decision-makers…
Steven Spielberg (director), President of the Jury Daniel Auteuil (actor) Vidya Balan (actor) Naomi Kawase (director) Nicole Kidman (actress) Ang Lee (director) Cristian Mungiu (director) Lynne Ramsay (director) Christoph Waltz (actor)
Some of high-profile films which represent some of our most anticipated and some which garnered a high profile after its Cannes premiere.
The Great Gatsby (opening selection) Opening night selections are usually the films with a certain cache behind them, ones that have been anticipated by many and have built in excitement. In this way, it was no surprise that Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby was chosen at the opening film. Recent Cannes festival openers have included Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. However, open selections are also usually world premiere but the scheduled US release of Gatsby ahead of the festival didn’t deter the programming committee given into the spectacle that is Gatsby, which hasn’t been garnering much critical response either in the US or abroad.
Critical response (including my previous review for the US theaterical release): “Having watched this fantastically unthinking and heavy-handed adaptation, the opening gala of this year’s Cannes festival, I feel the only way to make it less subtle would be to let Michael Bay direct it. As it is, the task has fallen to Baz Luhrmann, the director of Moulin Rouge! and Australia, a man who can’t see a nuance without calling security for it to be thrown off his set.” - Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
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.” - Shala Thomas (Life Between Films)
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.
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.
Here is a list of mainstream but mostly independent releases that represent the films I most want to see and/or the films I would recommend to others. As always, check back in my Film Calendar section to see related blog posts on these films after I see them.
The Great Gatsby: The reimagining of the great F. Scott Fitzgerld American classic novel by the king of glitzy stylized film aesthetic Baz Luhrmann. One of the movies of 2013 I have been really waiting for. Anticipate this.
[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.