Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Great Gatsby - In Baz We Trust

From the moment that I heard Leonardo DiCaprio was cast as Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," I have been counting the hours until the moment when I could see this on the big screen. It was a long wait, with its planned December 2012 release delayed until now. But, I finally got to don my 3-D glasses and, once again, enter world of Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, Jordan and the rest of those jazz babies, flappers and shady prohibition-era gangster-types. All I can say is,  it was worth the wait.
Born to be Gatsby
Gatsby is the ultimate Hollywood story, even though it takes place on the gold coast of Long Island and there is just one little movie star in sight. The lure of the brass ring that promises a golden future, the American Dream, is the foundation of Gatsby's belief that he can invent himself and the foundation of the dream factory that is Hollywood. So, it's strange that this very Hollywood story has eluded Hollywood's best efforts. I haven't seen the earlier versions with Warner Baxter and Alan Ladd, but the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow didn't do it for it. It seemed too timid, too afraid to tamper in any way with its source material that it ended up being beautiful, empty and much too polite.
Just another night at the Gatsby mansion
Enter Baz Luhrmann, showman extraordinaire. This Gatsby is a feast for the eyes and, yes, for the ears. It is respectful of the novel (lifting chunks of dialogue right out of the book) and gives us Gatsby and Daisy and Tom in all of their glorious, empty excess. Much has been made of the Jay-Z, Lana Del Ray, Beyonce soundtrack, but it all fits. The marvelous party scene features a great Cab Calloway type and a heart-stopping version of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue, " complete with fireworks. The 3-D is exhilarating  and just serves to emphasize the beauty in the already beautiful.
Carey Mulligan - I can now imagine no other Daisy
Carey Mulligan is a perfect Daisy. Here, her appeal is that of a 1920's Marilyn Monroe - soft, sexy, vulnerable. She is the golden girl of Gatsby's dreams. Tobey Maguire is very touching as Nick Carraway, Gatsby's friend to the end. Elizabeth Debicki is total 20s flapper as Jordan and Joel Edgerton is total brute as Tom. 
Nick and Jordan whoop it up at Gatsby's
However, none of them can compare to DiCaprio, who gives the performance we was born to give. From the moment he appears on the screen, his shimmering, elusive, towering "it" of movie stardom dominates every aspect of the film. He is mysterious like Gatsby, hopeful like Gatsby, wounded like Gatsby, dangerous like Gatsby and heartbreaking like Gatsby. He is bigger than any 3-D trick, any mansion, jewel or fancy car. He is a movie star and he is unforgettable.
Oh, to be loved as Gatsby loved Daisy
So, all of our fears were unfounded. But, I trusted Baz Luhrmann all along. He is big and bold and adventurous and creative and his work breathes life onto the screen. It may not always hit the mark, and this film is not perfect, but it is glorious, outrageous and beautiful. Fitzgerald wrote about those who stood outside the golden circle and were seduced by the vulgar wealth of the 20s. Gatsby entered the  circle and got burned. Luhrmann gives us the heat and the heartbreak.
Nervously waiting to be reunited with Daisy
Oh, and thank you, thank you, thank you, Baz Luhrmann for giving us an almost-summer ADULT movie! There is nary a super hero, supernatural or massive explosive in sight. Only people and a great, human story.
Will we all be dressing like flappers this summer?
Will we be be having Gatsby-themes parties this summer?



Will girls be bobbing their hair this summer?

13 comments:

ItGirl said...

Marsha: I completely agree with you! Great insight from you, as always. I have found myself thinking about several scenes from the movie today, and I've caught myself smiling at the memory of this beautiful film. It was, as you said, that rarity in today's world: an adult film that respects it's audience. I haven't seen a movie in the theater since "The Artist," but I'm so glad I saw this last night, and that my concerns were unfounded.

FlickChick said...

Thank you -I know so many people who love the novel are approaching this with trepidation, but the definitive Gatsby has not yet been made, so why not let Baz have a crack at ti? And though this may not be the definitive film version of the novel, for me, Leo is the definitive Gatsby. He is just brilliant. There better be an Oscar coming his way.

Dawn Sample said...

I just added the classic film, The Great Gatsby, to my DVD collection and can't wait to see this version. Great write up!

FlickChick said...

Thanks, Dawn! Try to see it in 3-D if you can - it really adds to the beauty.

Silver Screenings said...

I cannot tell you how relieved I am to read your positive review. Some of the reviews have been mixed and I was getting a little worried.

Am looking forward to this!

FlickChick said...

Silver Screenings - I think that if you love movies, you will love this one. It is a so visual and so much what film is about. I was trying to imagine what pioneers like DW Griffith would have thought if they saw this film and I think they would have been terribly, terribly excited.

Samantha said...

Oh my goodness.. I can't wait to see the film and after reading your view of it I just may pop off right now and go to my nearest movie theater!

FlickChick said...

Sam - ha ha - don't forget the 3-D glasses.

DorianTB said...

Hey, Chick, I haven't seen THE GREAT GATSBY yet, but all the positive feedback has me looking forward to it. In particular, if our man DiCaprio doesn't get a Best Actor Oscar, then I don't know what's wrong with Hollywood! That said, I'd like to wait and see ...GATSBY at our local second-run theater, The Roxy, because it's a landmark theater that's been wonderfully preserved! If you happen to live in Northampton, PA, check out The Roxy; you'll never miss the 3D! :-
)
http://www.roxytheaternorthampton.com/

Hannah said...

I completely agree with your review! And yes, Leo better get the Oscar for Best Actor for his glorious portrayal of Gatsby! I was blown away at how perfectly he nailed the character. The 3D was spectacular and this is one show that I will definitely be buying in 3D since my brother has a 3D TV!

FlickChick said...

Dorian - it seems that most people who have seen it really do admire it (including Fitzgerald's family). I hope you get a chance to see it.

FlickChick said...

Hannah - I said the same thing - Leo better get an Oscar. Enough already with the snubs!

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