Archive for the ‘Baz Luhrmann’ Category

Lavish, Lustful Long Island…

The Great Gatsby

great_gatsby_ver6

The much anticipated glitzy remake of the 1974 film, The Great Gatsby by Australian director, Baz Luhrmann is spectacular to watch, wonderful to marvel at, yet ultimately flawed much like its central character, Jay Gatsby.  Based upon the American classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby published in 1925, chronicling America and specifically New York’s Jazz Age, Prohibition and the excesses of wealth prior to the Great Depression in 1929, Luhrmann expertly captures the era with gorgeous costumes designed by Catherine Martin and supplied by the Italian Luxury Fashion House Prada along with suits by Brooks Brothers, the 21st century film version of Gatsby is brash, excessively long and gorgeous to look at, with fabulous over the top parties, superb music and lots of creative divergence as expected from the director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet.

At the centre of the 21st century version of The Great Gatsby are three fine performances and that is the ménage trio of Jay Gatsby, played with a slightly Howard Hawks neurosis by Leonardo di Caprio, (The Aviator, Django Unchained, Romeo and Juliet), the Louisville heiress Daisy Buchanan played with a slight childish melancholy by the ever charming Carey Mulligan (Wall Street 2, Money Never Sleeps) and then her brutish, polo playing husband Tom Buchanan, an outstanding performance by screen newcomer Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Animal Kingdom).

great_gatsby_ver2

Luhrmann and costume designer Martin do a superb job of luring the audience into a decadent world of the bootlegging roaring 1920’s New York with the lavish excessive parties, the ensuing deviance that prohibition encouraged and naturally the modern jazz age. The film is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin and neighbour to the initially enigmatic Gatsby, played with the usual awe and wonder of Tobey Maguire, of the original Spiderman Trilogy, who facilitates a meeting between Daisy and Gatsby over tea in one of the film’s more memorable scenes with flowers and decadent cakes at his Long Island cottage.

The Long Island-Manhattan social scene becomes more intricate as Tom’s mistress Myrtle wonderfully played by Isla Fisher and first introduced at in a raucous party at a Manhattan apartment hinting at the excesses which the sexually ambivalent Nick Carraway is seduced by both in terms of drugs, alcohol and loose morals, yet it is really Carraway’s enchantment with Gatsby himself which really plays into the subtext of such a fascinating portrait of lust and decadence, that eventually leads him to later write the story of the huge influence Gatsby had on his now destroyed life. As Carraway is drawn into the opulent world of the super-rich and of the myriad possibilities, betrayals and affairs that this affluent society leads him to witness, it is Gatsby himself who leaves Carraway with an impressionable dream of “You can do anything if you set your mind to it”.

great_gatsby_ver19

Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is flawed and uneven, especially noticeable in the second half of the film as he goes beyond the spectacle of the age and grapples with the deceit and lies that his main characters are capable of. The infamous scene at the Plaza Hotel, where all is revealed is really expertly played by Joel Edgerton as the jilted yet scheming playboy husband, who treats all his possessions including his lovely wife with a sort of contemptible jealousy. Luhrmann’s directorial trademarks are evident in The Great Gatsby, but not nearly as tightly pulled together as his brilliant Moulin Rouge which saw stunning performances by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, yet he still manages to recreate The Great Gatsby in a style any other film director could not have imagined.

great_gatsby_ver5

The Great Gatsby is recommended for the fantastic costumes and sumptuous production design, but not where literary traditionalists are concerned, the film is clearly aiming at a much younger glitzier and more diverse audience, notably succeeding in its lavish portrayal of excess. The only criticism is that more editing was required to cut The Great Gatsby into a perfect diamond and not as a sparkling flawed gem.  The film is a celebrated depiction and inventive homage to the Jazz Age, without much substance, but loads of style. Personally I would like to see Luhrmann tackle the rather more brilliant novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, but that would see the director venturing too deeply into the complexity of human relationships without the added glamour.

Recommended for lovers of Gershwin music and for an aesthetic appreciation, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is sure to divide and impress audiences simultaneously, much like he did with revisionist adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in 1997. Also starring Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
  • Refinery29 Lays Off 34 Staffers in Latest Sign of Digital-Media Malaise
    Refinery29 has pink-slipped 34 employees, with the digital media player citing a “challenging” advertising environment for the layoffs. The New York-based company said the cuts represent 7.5% of its workforce, leaving it with around 420 employees worldwide. Refinery29 targets young female audiences with a mix of news, lifestyle, and video content. Refinery29 co-founders and co-CEOs […]
    Todd Spangler
  • London Film Festival Director Clare Stewart to Take Year-long Sabbatical
    Clare Stewart will take a break from running the BFI London Film Festival, with Tricia Tuttle filling in as artistic director in 2018. Stewart has run six editions of the London fest but will miss 2018 as she takes a year-long sabbatical. In other moves sparked by Stewart’s year out, Anne-Marie Flynn, currently head of business […]
    Stewart Clarke
  • China’s Wanda Ready to Sue Over Financial Allegations
    China’s Dalian Wanda group has rebuffed social media suggestions that it is in financial difficulties. And it pulled back the curtains on new backlots at the Wanda Qingdao Studios. Wanda said that it had reported blog Baoyouqu to the police for slander. The site recently published an article headlined Wang Jianlin Meets his Waterloo. Wanda […]
    Patrick Frater
  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Gianfranco Rosi Booked for Qumra
    Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose “Loveless” is among nine titles shortlisted in this year’s foreign-language Oscar race, is one of three acclaimed helmers scheduled to give master classes and mentoring sessions during the Doha Film Institute’s annual Qumra event. The other Qumra “Masters” are Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or winner for […]
    nvivarelli
  • Berlinale 2018: Panorama Section Focuses on ‘Body Politics’ and ‘Resistance to Machismo’
    The 2018 Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section will focus on body politics and – with Harvey Weinstein and harassment still front-page news – “resistance to machismo.” The upcoming edition of Panorama, which is dedicated to controversial and unconventional features, will be the first to be overseen by Paz Lazaro, alongside Michael Stütz and Andreas Struck. […]
    Stewart Clarke