May 15, 2013
If this whole film-director thing falls through, Baz Luhrmann could have a second career as a party planner.
The wing-dings he helped whip up for his "Great Gatsby" are roiling, riotous amusements. You want to grab a glass of champagne and jump into all the Charleston-dancing, pool-diving, confetti-tossing, fireworks-exploding craziness. It doesn't hurt that everyone looks fabulous — women in glittery, kicky 1920s dresses, men in slicked-back hair and sharp suits. If "Gatsby" was meant in any way to be an indictment of excess, well, Luhrmann didn't get the memo.
Not that I care. It's an enjoyable bauble of a movie.
Oh, the visuals! The filmmakers have created an extravagent version of tony 1920s New York City and Long Island, and they have just as memorably CGI-ed to life a grimy town that the rich characters maraud through.
As for the soundtrack, the much-ballyhooed use of hip-hop does actually add a nice edge to the proceedings and reminds us of the modern echoes of the haves-versus-the-have-nots and the downside of the American dream.
And the acting? Leonardo DiCaprio gives possibly the best performance of his career as the mysterious Gatsby, expertly unveiling layers of the character's identity.
As Daisy, Carey Mulligan makes her eyes glisten longingly like few other actresses can. She is winsomeness personified. Her Daisy, though, gets short shrift, especially as the film nears its conclusion.
Joel Edgerton commands the screen as Daisy's bull — and bully — of a husband, Tom Buchanan. The intensity and the violence boiling under his facade make for a compelling performance, but Edgerton doesn't show much of the softer side that would have made Daisy fall for him in the first place.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tobey Maguire is perfectly guileless and watchful as narrator Nick, who brings his cousin Daisy together with Gatsby.
Two performances are surprisingly off-key: Isla Fisher is miscast as Tom's 10-cent floozy, and Jason Clarke, so mesmerizing in "Zero Dark Thirty," is a caricature of a blue-collar dolt as Fisher's cuckolded husband.
What did you think of "The Great Gatsby"?
May 8, 2013
No, kids, "Iron Man 3" is not as good as the original "Iron Man" —but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The original of anything is usually better than any sequel.
May 6, 2013
As I watched "The Big Wedding," I thought to myself, "How did all these good actors end up in this half-baked, shtick-filled movie?"
Sometimes, with a bad movie, you sense there might have been a good script...
May 1, 2013
I understand trying to please your audience, but this takes that notion beyond the norm.
The "Iron Man 3" that you’ll see when it’s released here next Friday will be different...
April 26, 2013
I have never been so happy to see Robert Downey Jr. in my life.
Let’s face it, it’s been an underwhelming few months in terms of movie releases.
But next week begins the full summer...
April 5, 2013
Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel made an indelible impression on me with their "At the Movies" debates. They loved movies, and they relished arguing their merits.
Their passion for the art form...
February 25, 2013
Forget the presenter’s dresses. Forget Seth McFarlane’s jokes. The real reason for all the hoopla, after all, is who gets an Academy Award, and the results Sunday night were a nice mix of expected wins and dramatic...
February 11, 2013
It's deja vu all over again. "Argo" just won another best-picture honor.
This time, on Sunday, it was the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for best film. Oh, and BAFTA gave Ben Affleck...
January 15, 2013
It’s filmdom’s version of that old Mark Twain quote: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
Every few years, showbiz pundits declare movie musicals dead.
January 10, 2013
The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards were announced this morning, and here’s how it all shakes out:
January 7, 2013
No more Ricky Gervais! What will we do?
The snark that ticked off half of Hollywood will no longer be the Golden Globes emcee when the ceremony returns Sunday. Having Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host is a...
January 2, 2013
Want to see a movie this week? Well, I hope you have a lot of free time.
You plan on catching "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"? Set aside 169 minutes — yes, two hours and 49 minutes. Hoping to...
August 24, 2012
It wasn’t a half-bad summer at the movies. Damning with faint praise, I realize, but every summer that offers more than emptyheaded action flicks comes as a pleasant surprise.
June 27, 2012
There are certain screenwriters and directors whose next film you just naturally look forward to seeing.