Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
Regarding the review from Erin (firstname.lastname@example.org) - just a quick point of clarification. The reviewer noted that "Gatsby seemed too old" - an interesting observation given that of all the actors who have so far portrayed Gatsby on film, Toby Stephens was significantly the youngest at the time of filming. He was born in 1969 and the film was released in 2000 thereby making Stephens no more than 31 by the time of the film's release. In the silent film of "The Great Gatsby" released in 1926, Gatsby was played by Warner Baxter, born in 1889, making him no more than 37. Alan Ladd was born in 1913 and played Gatsby in the 1949 release making him no more than 36 at the time. Robert Redford was born in 1936 making him no more than 38 by the time of the 1974 release. Leonardo DiCaprio was born that same year (ie 1974) making him no more than 39 by the time of the spectacular Baz Luhrmann 2013 release. It's hard to believe but just going by the mathematics, Leonardo may very well have been the oldest film actor yet to have played Jay Gatsby at the time of filming. Toby Stephens however holds the record to this date (ie 7 February 2014) as being by far the youngest actor. This still doesn't refute the original reviewer's contention however that "Gatsby SEEMED too old." He clearly did to the reviewer. It's just that anyone wishing to go by the cold hard facts need only "do the maths."
A technically brilliant and exciting film but an utterly dishonest account. Pure fantasy. In an outrageous example of hypocrisy, the credits at the conclusion of the film challenge the young to pursue the truth. Oliver Stone should lead by example. The film boasts mind-blowing editing (especially for its time); wonderful acting, efficient directing, eerie pulsating music and an intensely thrilling plot line to easily overshadow all those paranoia movies of the 1970's - but as an implicitly declared historical document, the film is at best misleading and at worst delusional. To offer no disclaimer that the film is essentially fictional is akin to deceiving the viewing public, flirting dangerously close to libel, distorting history and exploiting a tragic event for commercial gain. The inclusion of a known historic event (albeit tragic) in an openly acknowledged work of fiction allows some potential for entertainment and perhaps even enlightenment - thereby protecting the work from being merely exploitative. If the work however pretends to be something it is not, then the inclusion of a known historic event in its narrative may justifiably cause offence. I confess I enjoyed the film enormously but the pleasure is a guilty one. I'd feel a whole lot easier about that pleasure if the film had simply acknowledged its fictitious essence and refrained from masquerading as a document of truth. Two stars lost for its deceit. The eight stars remain for its artistic merit.
A story that is difficult to translate into a film without being episodic and a little bit direction-less. How many fireside scenes, meaningful pauses and plaintive longing gazes do we need to sit through to get the romantic undertows? Lots of subtlety in the script and visual symbolism inadequately matched by Robert Redford's neutral performance giving the impression of a huge American film-star doing it by numbers, conspicuously super-imposed onto an otherwise convincing depiction of colonial Kenyan culture in the early twentieth century. Director Sydney Pollack believed Redford gave the historic character he was portraying an unobtainable quality that couldn't be offered by any high-profile British actor at the time of filming (1984). Once the British acting fraternity recovered from the shock of being so unfairly patronized, they might, if given the chance, have cried out, "Haven't you heard of Pierce Brosnan?" Indeed, Brosnan's age in the early 1980's would have been much closer than Redford's to that of the historic character being portrayed. In fairness to Redford, he was apparently prepared to equip his character, an English gentleman, with a suitably Etonian accent. Pollack allegedly felt however than an English accent from Redford would distract the film's viewers. Hmmm. Yes, Mr Pollack. An Englishman with an American accent is so much less distracting and so much more believable. It's Meryl Streep who does the lion's share (no pun intended) of the heavy-lifting with able support from Michael Kitchen and others. Lots of beautiful photography and sweeping themes from veteran composer, John Barry. As a keen photographer once said to me however, "Why is good photography allowed to be an excuse for a bad movie?" I don't agree it's a bad movie but I do believe less is more and that the film needs a lot of tidying up with a tauter narrative. The truth is, I find it a curiously interesting albeit flawed film and wouldn't be surprised if I find myself enjoying it more upon repeat viewings.
Comparisons with "Madmen" are inevitable but they also run the risk of distracting the viewer from properly appreciating "The Hour" in its own right. For all the obvious similarities between the two shows with their period-piece settings and respective portrayals of entrenched misogyny, this BBC/Kudos production marches resolutely to the beat of its own drum. "The Hour" is gritty and gray. It's temperature is cold. One of its main themes is the examination of conflict in a variety of forms; the deep internal conflict between ardent idealism and soul-numbing compromise or between personal integrity and ruthless ambition; and the dogged pursuit of truth in the face of suppression and censorship. Other classic struggles between opposing dynamics are also explored. These include individualism and conservatism, inspiration and convention, impoverishment and privilege, courage and fear, rational caution and paranoia, democracy and tyranny etc - all of which are set amid the historic backdrop of two salient international military conflicts. The landscape is panoramic and the brush-strokes reach far and wide but the painting remains clearly defined. All the elements are tautly packed into a 360 minute thought-provoking thriller. If comparisons must be drawn, then "Goodnight and Good Luck" might prove to be a helpful suggestion. With its subtle script, insightful direction, solid casting and a stunning performance from Ben Whishaw, "The Hour" is one of the BBC's finest. Congratulations to all involved with this production. Thoroughly recommended.