The wonder of opulence, the sadness of greed. – The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Great Gatsby – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann (screenplay) and Craig Pearce (screenplay), F. Scott Fitzgerald (based of the novel by)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, and Jason Clarke.

Who is Gatsby? The question that haunts and taunts throughout the novel and throughout Luhrmann’s film. Firstly, I have to admit that I love Fitzgerald’s writing but hate the story of Gatsby. It took me a long time to pick it back up after reading the first chapter and I struggled to get through it because I despised the characters, even Nick Carraway. Their selfishness, opulence, disregard for life and love, and use and abuse of the people around them made me sick. But that is what Fitzgerald intended to some degree. He slowly reveals our darkest secrets and shows us our reflection in each of the characters features and flaws. I was anxious going into the film. With Baz Luhrmann’s reputation for over the top theatrics and in your face metaphors it was hard not to be really, especially after watching the trailer for the film. And yet, from the moment the lights dimmed in the cinema and that title sequence began I knew it would all be okay.

The Great Gatsby is a film that transports you back to the mid-20s whilst keeping your feet firmly planted in 2013. The atmosphere, the light, the music, the sounds, everything screams at you with a haunting whisper of our reality. Gatsby (DiCaprio) is the ever hopeful and Carraway (Maguire) is the witness to the demise of hope and innocence. DiCaprio is brilliant. He shines so brightly and broods so grotesquely that there is rarely a moment that you can not believe that he is Gatsby. He is the lost soul who is trying to grasp something he never had a chance of possessing. Carey Mulligan is teamed with DiCaprio like the second side of his coin as the foolish Daisy Buchanan. Her flittering eyes, constantly on the verge of tears, and vacant looks convey the truth of Daisy.

But the man who really steals the film is Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s racist, bigoted, cheating husband. The slow brewing act of Tom is built throughout the film until the moment he takes Gatsby down in a small room of a hotel in New York. Edgerton’s performance is stunning. You are both repulsed by and drawn towards him like Daisy. You want to hate him but you know that in some small way that he is right about Gatsby, and you can’t fault him for that. Everything else, sure, he is a douchebag 100%, but he is right about Gatsby, and Joel Edgerton plays the balance remarkably.

The trailer to this film shows the opulence, the extravaganza, the pomp and ceremony of Gatsby, but what it fails to show is the great moments in between which make this film fantastic. It is the moments of slowness, the moments of Carraway’s reflections, the glimpses of Gatsby’s past, the brokenness of life in the world, and the calm before the storm that make this film great. Baz Luhrmann has managed to give life to Gatsby and Carraway’s friendship and to provide a film that shows both the wonder of opulence and the sadness of greed.

4/5

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See it in 3D – The Hobbit

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh (screenplay), Phillipa Boyens (screenplay), Peter Jackson (screenplay), Guillermo del Toro (screenplay), JRR Tolkien (story)
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis.

When the Lord of The Rings films first came out ten years ago they really blew me away as the first epic adventure film that I had seen on the big screen. I still remember sitting through them, watching Legolas swing around that horse and climb up the oliphaunt and shot an arrow through its head. It was an adventure story and wondrous to behold on the big screen. However, in the opening scenes of The Hobbit my jaw dropped as the landscape and action came alive on the screen. Seeing this film in 3D is essential. Mainly because the story is padded out so much that there are moments when you can sit back and enjoy the visuals. Don’t get me wrong, sure the story of the Hobbit is great, but three films is a little excessive.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gives the back story to Bilbo Baggins. It is Bilbo’s story, but Jackson and his co-creators decided that they needed to give it context within the Lord of The Rings films, this is so very unnecessary even though I love seeing Elijah Wood as Frodo again. The story of Bilbo is exciting and adventurous in the book, and Jackson has brought it to life visually, but instead of making it fast paced and exciting like we are now used to, he has slowed the pace in between the big action scenes. I’m really not sure whether them stretching the short novel out into three movies is a good thing or it will just be laborious when it comes to the end of the third film but I have very mixed feelings about this first installment. I both enjoyed the ride and the visuals but also felt the length of the film and knowing there are another two to come over the next few years gave me a sense of tedium as I sat through the last half hour. The Hobbit as a story is meant to be a tale of adventure and discovery of what it means to belong for children but it hasn’t been treated this way and it loses it’s childish charm in a lot of ways because of the slowness of the telling of the film. Martin Freeman is brilliant, as is the rest of the cast, but all in all Jackson should have gone back to Tolkien’s original ideal in The Hobbit rather than trying to make it The Lord Of The Rings again. Jackson has overlooked the difference in Tolkien’s writing and purpose from The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings.

3/5

Heartbreakingly Beautiful – Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012)

Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writers: Stephen Chbosky (novel), Stephen Chbosky (screenplay)
Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller

Kids nowadays have it as rough as they did generations before ours. And as it has done before, film and literature tries to tell the hard stories of our lives and culture. Perks Of Being A Wallflower, based on the novel by Stephen Chbosky – who also wrote and directed the film – brings to life the story of a group of teens who try and survive their messed up and complicated lives. The film delves into how Charlie (Logan Lerman), Sam (Emma Watson), and Patrick (Ezra Miller) deal with the awful hand that life has dealt them. Each of them has a past, even at the age of seventeen they are dealing with the consequences of other people’s actions upon them. These young actors portray characters that are full of complicated emotions in such realistic ways. There was never a moment in the film when I didn’t believe their story. They gave heart and soul to the characters and created a passionate and powerful portrayal of the modern teenage life.

Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t simply a coming of age story, it is a story of how awful things happen to young people and they have to deal with them given limited support and the pressures of school and peers. It is full of dorky awkwardness and beautiful, innocent youth but deals with matters that are far beyond what you would expect of a teen flick. From issues of homosexual to depression to death, it handles these issues with a grace and honesty that I hadn’t expected and shocked me to tears. When people look back on this film in years to come it will mark this generation in the same way that The Breakfast Club marked the 1980s.

I felt completely and utterly spent after the film. It was so powerful that there was more than one person in the film who was sobbing by the end. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and was a reminder that we can transform our lives even in the most awful of circumstances. It was also a reminder of how important the support of people who love us are. The way we treat each other can either destroy or restore us.

Make sure you take a box of tissues with you as well as your laughter because it will make you both laugh and cry.

4.5/5