The Great Gatsby - Review




Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Joel Edgerton and Carey Mulligan

I had expected this film to either be mind blowing or awful. After watching it, I feel somewhat underwhelmed as The Great Gatsby is neither impressive nor disappointing; it's somewhere inbetween. Baz Luhrmann's vision brings Gatsby alive for the 6th time and has certainly stamped his creative visualisations all over it. However the razzmatazz feels like it's getting in the way of the story, even though said razzmatazz is the most enjoyable bit.

It's hard to review a film that's based on a book (especially one as highly regarded as this) because film should be reviewed in its own right, it seems wrong to judge a film by unfavourable comparisons to a book. With that said, the plot of The Great Gatsby is almost incidental to the success, and the same with the film. People love the twenties era, the music, decadence, clothes. The film is beautiful, fun to look at and I wanted to be there but it largely ignores the subtleties of the book (maybe because the themes can't be translated well onto film...) The Great Gatsby as a book embodies the Jazz Age of the twenties in such as way that makes it one of 'the great American novels' and that's why people only started to really love the book when the twenties had passed; because it is a great impression retrospectively of a lost Age. In this sense, the film stands up very well in comparison to the book.

The film is remarkably decadent and fun to watch. The cars, costumes and parties zing off the screen with a freshness and excitement that is reminiscent of the originality and newness of the twenties. The  hip-hop soundtrack was to us what Jazz was to them, modern and innovative. Jay-Z does work well with the film, it is non jarring and adds to the over all appreciation. 

It is an interesting method of narrative to place Nick in an asylum as a recovering alcoholic. It echoes Holden Caulfield's position in The Catcher In The Rye; however in the film version of The Great Gatsby, it doesn't work as well as it does in J.D Salinger's magnus opus. It seems that Tobey Maguire was either miscast of misdirected possessing too much of a childlike demeanour, as there is nothing wrong with him as an actor. Also, the prose that appeared as if written on the camera was heavy handed and gimmicky and almost detracted from the themes that were trying to  be conveyed. The main ideas of the book however were translated well. The Great Gatsby isn't a tragic love story, it speaks of the elusive American Dream, aspirations and illusions of youth and brutal social politics.

Carey Mulligan is notable as Daisy Buchanan - boring yet intriguing, hollow and ethereal; it is easy to see why Gatsby fell for her but equally easy to see her always being a weak and vacuous woman. Her husband, Tom Buchanan is played remarkably well by Joel Edgerton. One of the few scenes that is standout is the heated exchange between Tom and Gatsby in the Manhattan hotel room. It showed that when the actors were allowed space to breath, unencumbered by confetti cannons, they could truly enact the tension and apprehension as contained in the book. Ultimately, Leonardo Dicaprio was made to play Gatsby. This has been his most impressive portrayal for a very long time and it was easy to find yourself lost in the character and believing him to be someone real and not just Dicaprio putting on an act. The direction of the core actors is Lurhmann's greatest achievement. 

Rating 6.5

Cannes Film Festival - Coverage

Been loving the coverage coming from the Cannes Film Festival this past week and have collated some of my favourite pictures from some of the events. There looks to be some amazing films premiering this year so keep it locked for discussion on some of the buzz films that reviewers are getting excited about!

In Competition (Jury chair: Steven Spielberg)
Only God Forgives, dir Nicolas Winding Refn
Borgman, dir Alex Can Warmerdam
La Grande Bellezza, dir Paulo Sorrentino 
Behind the Candelabra, dir Steven Soderbergh
La Venus a la Fourrure, dir Roman Polanski
Nebraska, dir Alexander Payne
Jeune et Jolie, dir François Ozon
La Vie d'Adele, dir Abdellatif Kechiche
Wara No Tate, dir Takashi Miike
Soshite Chichi Ni Naru, dir Kore-Eda Hirokazu
Tian Zhu Ding, dir Jia Zhangke
Grisgris, dir Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
The Immigrant, dir James Gray
Heli, dir Amat Escalante 
Le Passe, dir Asghar Farhadi
Michael Kohlhaas, dir Arnaud Despallieres
Inside Llewyn Davis, dir Ethan and Joel Coen
Un Chateau en Italie, dir Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
Un Certain Regard (Jury chair: Thomas Vinterberg)
The Bling Ring, dir Sofia Coppola
L'Inconnu Du La, dir Alain Guiraudie
Bends, dir Flora Lau
L'Image Manquante, dir Rithy Panh
La Jaula De Oro, dir Diego Quemada-Diez
Anonymous, dir Mohammad Rasoulof
Sarah Préfère La Course, dir Chloé Robichaud
Grand Central, dir Rebecca Zlotowski
Fruitvale Statio, dir Ryan Coogler
Les Salauds, dir Claire Denis
Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan, dir Lav Diaz
As I Lay Dying, dir James Franco
Miele, dir Valeria Golino
Omar, dir Hany Abu-Assad
Death March, dir Adolfo Alix Jr
Cinefondation (Jury chair: Jane Campion)
Special Screenings
Weekend Of A Champion, dir Roman Polanski 
Seduced And Abandoned, dir James Toback
Otdat Konci, dir Taisia Igumentseva
Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, dir Stephen Frears
Stop The Pounding Heart, dir Robero Minervini
Midnight Screenings
Monsoon Shootout, dir Amit Kumar
Blind Detective, dir Johnnie To
Homage To Jerry Lewis
Max Rose, dir Daniel Noah
Out Of Competiton 
All Is Lost by J.C Chandor
Blood Ties by Guillaume Canet

Star Trek Into Darkness - Review




Directed by JJ Abrams

Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana

After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

It has to be said, my knowledge of 60's TV Star Trek is rudimentary at best and leaves a lot to be desired. Nonetheless, in comparison to the previous films of the franchise; this is one surpasses the previous offerings (naming no names, Star Trek Nemesis...)

Abrams consistently trades off vengeance versus justice and instinct against logic in a very smart way. A comedic tiff becomes a reflection on fear and it's utility - and this happens in a non jarring way. It's his ability to amalgamate comedy, drama and heart pumping action with ease that makes Star Trek Into Darkness so entertaining.

From the opening scene, we're thrown into the action during the climax of an exploration of a stunning scarlet planet with a spewing volcano. It becomes clear that Abram's is aiming to maximise the fun and not alienate new comers with too many back references to Star Trek of past. Sure there are fabulous cracks that the Star Trek veterans will enjoy, but for the most part this film requires no prior knowledge. Despite being futuristic, the themes are thoughtful and relevant to the society we live in. Which by no means should be a predicate of an action movie, but The Dark Knight Rises has shown that this can add level of credibility to a film.

Cinematically beautiful, Abram's captures all the high-tech, futuristic exterior and interior shots with clinical precision but at the same time the world he has created feels inhabitable and warm.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays and looks like a convincing leather clad villain. He struts around the Enterprise with an air of ambiguity that is chilling in the same way that Silva was menacing in Sky Fall. Chris Pine is flawless as Captain Kirk and shows great humility whilst still being the slick and cool ladies man that we expect. Star Trek Into Darkness is fun, entertaining and exhilarating. So many franchises these days lack heart and substance but Star Trek is bursting with it in ample abundance.

Rating: 7

Met Ball Gala Photos

It's been a while but Amateur Reviews is back and blogging, sorry for going AWOL (assuming people actually had noticed hahaha). Was having a trawl around online and decided to collate the photos of all of the actresses who attended the Met Ball in New York City last night. Which took me a surprisingly long time as I sometimes struggled to ascertain who was an actual actress worthy of inclusion on a film blog! Anyway, here are some of the ones I found, enjoy the Punk Couture-ness!