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: Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris
Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, and Corey Stoll

Finally, the first movie of the summer that deserves the label “art.”  Woody Allen continues his stroll through Europe with this weird, touching, and hilarious trip through the streets of Paris.  Midnight in Paris was the opener of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, mostly because it’s everything the French love: funny, beautiful, and set in France.

Allen’s career has been an almost definitive representation of the “on-again, off-again” method of filmmaking.  He cranks out movies like nobody’s business, and many of them are masterpieces.  Some of them, especially recently, have been almost universal flops.  He is at his best when he takes the usual characters- neurotic artist, muse, pretentious academic- and puts them in something that isn’t about them.

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