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The Great Gatsby (2013)
Welcome to Baz Luhrmann fantasy world.
I think that people have either not seen Luhrmann's other work or are not considering this film in context.
If you love the book and feel that it's the "great American novel" then you'll have little chance of liking this film. Why, it's simple Baz Luhrmann has always setup his films as fantasies. Whilst I haven't seen every film that he has made the four that I have all start with you the viewer entering through the red curtains or in this case the art deco gates into his world. This is not the world of F Scott Fitzgerald it's Baz Luhrmann's world and viewers shouldn't be surprised that a director that reinterpreted William Shakespeare would do the same with FSF.
Once you understand that you're in his world or in other words his dream it's not surprising that the film has the feel of Motion Captor or that he dreams with a modern sound track or ever that he starts and finishes the film in black & white. To complain about Baz's style is like complaining that Hitchcock used cameras in the ceilings or that Busby Buckeley's choreography couldn't have been seen by the audience within the film but only the people in the real life cinema. Some directors have a signature style and you either like it or you don't but you can't expect a Merchant/Ivory film faithful to a novel from a dreamer.
I liked this film because it's Luhrmann's style, it's "what's on the outside of the can is what you get". However I also would point out that like so many films this years it's to long and whilst the 3D didn't bother me greatly I'm yet to see value in the extra $7.00 a ticket.
Finally I think that I should point out that I have read the book twice and seen the 1970"s version of the novel and I have never understood why people like this story. Yes it may captor the rich at a unique time in history in a similar way as Jane Austin did in Britain within her time but I strongly dislike Daisy & Gatsby as they are both pathetically weak individuals which I just wish people would stop making films about. Maybe a film about how Gatsby made his money would be more rewarding. Now that would be a gangster film and we'd need Martin Scorsese to direct.
Spielberg, the most over rated adventure film director of all time
It's truly an amazing feat that a director can bore an audience within a minute and continue that tone for two and a half hours.
It's a strange combination as it's boring but not slow. It's endless scene after scene of talk that doesn't drive the story forward. Neither the writer nor director appears to have understood that such things as intrigue and character development have been used in other films. Surely the opponents of Lincoln's bill were three dimensional people, but not in this film.
The character of Lincoln himself is so deliberate, studies and introspective that it's hard to understand how he could have even been an engaging, persuasive enough person to have won an election, think stereotype of a Librarian, Accountant & Specialise Doctor all rolled up in one. He tell stories from his pass, a lot and in one scene a character complains and walks out, this was a good strategy and one that was adopted by at least six members of the audience.
If this film is an accurate depiction of the people running American in the 1860's then it must have been a boring place to live.
My suggestion is that a non American director may have been able to inject some life into this icon of a person and that political "back room" manoeuvres would have spiced up this dreary tale.
Spielberg has had great success with adventure and fantasy films and one achievement with drama, zero with comedy, maybe he should stick to his strengths.
The Master (2012)
Poor Film Making
I saw the The Master today and was greatly disappointed & here are some of my thoughts.
Joaquin Phoenix is probably to old to play the part of a returning seaman from WW2. He's in his med to late 30"s and the vast majority of sailors were in their late teens or early twenties at wars end, little more the kids fighting wars! Also the accounts I've read about navy life state that "odd balls" were weeded out pretty quickly as they had a detrimental effect on morale. Maybe his character had enlisted straight after Pearl Harbour in late 1941 & they were taking 30+ year olds at that desperate time & his mental illness wasn't apparent? Anyway he just appears to old for the part.
The promotion of the film suggests that it's about a cult leader and how he manipulates, after all the film is called The Master. Yet the film is not about Hoffman's character but Phoenix's so maybe it should be titled "A Troubled Mind" the diary of a sick violent alcoholic?
I don't know if we have received a different cut of the film here in Australia but Amy Adams has only a very slight role in the film with only two significant moments. One where she is stimulating Hoffman & another near the end of the film in England. She is grossly under- utilised.
Phoenix's character is painful, watching this performance was what I would think it would be like sitting next to Charles Manson on a flight from Sydney to London. The flights around 22 hours and the film feels like the same time span.
As other reviews have pointed out the story line is, lets say, unclear and drifts. I've always thought Darryl F Zanuck was onto something when he would cut any & all scenes that didn't move the story forward, in this case that's a lot of cut scenes.
I was also annoyed that the Hoffman character was only briefly challenged directly about his teachings. I feel that this was a wasted opportunity to examine a cult behaving under pressure. Instead we only see the reaction of the mentally unwell violent Phoenix character.
What a shame, this could have been an interesting examination of how cults build & work but instead we got an incoherent ramblings from a writer director that in my view has only delivered one film of note.
One last thing, 26 people started watching the film, 8 walked out, 3 fell asleep & from what I could gauge no one enjoyed it. I saw 2 people encouraging the group waiting for the next session to exchange their tickets for anything else.