REVIEW: The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Written by: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce (screenplay), F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgarton

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is a rollicking, cinematically frenzied and inconsistent take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel.  It is pop art done in the most extreme way, using what it likes from the source material’s Roaring Twenties setting and glossing over the rest with Lana Del Ray and Beyonce.  This is why as an adaptation of what many consider to be “The Great American Novel” it fails miserably, but as a movie it is far from miserable.

Fitzgerald’s novel is not a work of maximalism like this movie is.  It is the story of parties ending, and of dreams and identities being born, shifting and dying.  Luhrmann may have many of the more beautiful passages flash on the screen in fancy font as Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) narrates, but he is clearly more in tune with the party than the language or the themes of the source material.

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REVIEW: Secretariat


Secretariat
Directed by: Randall Wallace
Written by: Mike Rich (screenplay), William Nack (book)
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh, and Margo Martindale

Apparently Seabiscuit and The Blind Side weren’t enough.  According to Disney, we needed at least one more historically sugar-coated “impossible true story.”  Something savory for the whole family, with perfectly timed and safe one-liners and plot points that the company has had on repeat since it started doing live action movies.

Of course, when this company has a lack of creativity and innovation, they simply write a check.  This gives them access to the best filmmaking tools at their disposal to make this pile of garbage.  The race footage in Secretariat is amazingly well-done and even a little bit exhilarating.  It’s too bad once the horses stop, the movie does too.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Watchmen

Watchmen
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: David Hayter & Alex Zse (screenplay), Alan Moore (graphic novel)
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Malin Ackerman, and Billy Crudup

You must give credit where credit is due: Zack Snyder knows which graphic novels to adapt to the screen.  300 was his claim to highly stylized fame, and now with Watchmen, he tackles perhaps the most important graphic novel of all time.  Of course it won’t live up to the source material, even when/especially because he sticks to it almost frame for frame.

Why storyboard when it’s already been done for you?  This appears to be the only original question Snyder poses.  His source material must do all the talking, because he is concerned with stylistic bloodshed by the gallons.  As he did in 300, he lets his characters run rampant within the frame, leaving nothing- violent or sexual -to the imagination.

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