Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Great Gatsby


Old Sport

9.0 out of 10 | MOVIE, DVD

Rated: PG-13 Some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Runtime: 2 hours 22 minutes

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce, based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki

SYNOPSIS:  A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor.

REVIEW: Baz Luhrmann, famed screenwriter/director of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and Strictly Ballroom, returns to feature films in a big way after a string of short films. Re-teaming with longtime writing partner Craig Pearce, they adapt the frequently remade story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire, Brothers) stares out the windows of a sanitarium, morbidly unhappy with his life. When the doctor tries to coax out of him a memory of a better part of his life, Nick reminisces about a man he once met that was filled with hope and vigor. That idealistic young man was named Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained). Carraway describes Gatsby as being of the new wealth, meeting him in the summer of 1922 on Long Island, New York. Throwing more than lavish parties at his home for the greater populace, Gatsby holds a mystery close to his vest that Carraway wonders about. Carraway rents the smallish cottage next to the Gatsby estate where both of them are able to look across the bay at Carraway's cousin Daisy Buchanan's (Carey Mulligan, Drive) house. Spending most of his time trying to become a decent stock and bond broker on Wall Street Carraway soon finds himself swept up with the extravagant parties that Gatsby throws. Where did this man named Gatsby come from? What are his motivations? What are the mysteries behind the man who some say is a relative of the German Kaiser, an assassin, or a secret agent? And what is his fixation on the lovely Daisy Buchanan, wife of old money heir Tom (Joel Edgerton, Zero Dark Thirty)

Baz Luhrmann, known for his inventive interpretation of Romeo + Juliet, takes on one of America's most treasured pieces of literature. Robert Redford and Alan Ladd have made their mark in versions of The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann uses his unique style of directing to weave an original tapestry of his own. Using the backdrops of the heady days of the early 1920s Luhrmann creates the gorgeous locales of Long Island and New York City, adding in wonderful costumes, and all the glamour and glitz that the Roaring 20s provided.

The cast is spectacular, spectacular! Although DiCaprio's Gatsby doesn't appear right on away in the story he does steal the show as the title character. With every slick back of his hair, every reference to his friends as 'Old Boy', and every glance or glare speaking volumes more than the elegant Fitzgerald dialogue, DiCaprio proves again why he is an A-lister. Joel Edgerton holds his own as he Errol Flynn-esque Tom Buchanan who Gatsby battles against for a specific treasure that he owns. Edgerton is both imposing and charismatic as a heir of old money. Tobey Maguire is the perfect choice of the young man 
Carraway trying to make his way to world caught between these two titans of wealth. The female cast is equal to the task as objects of affection and of objectification by these men and their boys club. Isla Fisher (Rise of the Guardians) is Myrtle Wilson, a kept conquest of Tom Buchanan who knows how to party to excess. Carey Mulligan, a busy young actress, sparkles with innocence and a secret knowledge of how the world works as the object of affection, Daisy. And rounding of the main cast is Elizabeth Debicki as the golf starlet Jordan Baker, poised and postured as if made of porcelain. 

As one who was never forced to read 'The Great Gatsby' in high school literature class I was able to go into the viewing of this film with complete innocence. Like Nick 
Carraway I was wide-eyed with wonder at the decadence and debauchery that came with money. I could go on about The Great Gatsby as a literary allegory for the 20s and the gateway to the Great Depression of the 30s, but I am more impressed with what I enjoy onscreen. From the cinematic spectacle of it all, to the musical score and use modern rap, pop, and R and B, to an incredible cast roaring with the 20s, The Great Gatsby enthralls with mystery, misdirection, lost romance, and the excess that preceded a depression that proved greater than Gatsby could ever become.

Old money or new money, it doesn't matter. No matter what social and economic circles we travel, there is always drama that exceeds our great expectations. The Great Gatsby is one of the best dramatic and visually appealing films so far this year.

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