13 May 2013

My Movie Review of THE GREAT GATSBY

I’d give it: 9/10
You’d give it: 7/10

The other day, my little brother told me, “You don’t like ANY movies.”

I was a little shocked. I hadn’t realized I was such a harsh critic. But now I realize I am (and I’m trying to soften up). Anyways, some of your favorite movies are probably ones I hate a little bit—I certainly have unique tastes, but don’t we all? For that reason, I’ve listed two ratings above—one for me, and one wild speculation for you, whoever you are.

I do fall for movies sometimes though. Last time it happened with True Grit. And I think I like this one almost that much. I would definitely like to see it again in theaters—and that’s unusual for me. Let me tell you about it...

For those of you who will get out of the theater and say, “The book was better,” I say: This is not a book. It’s a movie. If what you love is the prose, you need to stick to the book (I’ve cited some of the prose below—I love it too). Some of the prose comes through in the movie’s narration, but since it doesn’t include all of it, it can’t do justice. (If you’ve never read it—this is literary fiction that makes you think, and it’s worth your time. I can only desperately hope to ever write something so beautiful.)

But if you love the plot or the characters or the themes or the symbols, they’re all there, and they’ve been presented in spectacular visuals—which has always been one of director Baz Luhrmann’s strong suits. It made me love the book more—I’m excited to read it a third time with a better visual framework to structure it around.

DiCaprio gives an excellent performance. He projects Gatsby’s majesty and frailty both so precisely, perhaps melodramatically—but the over-the-top-ness is part of the experience, I think. I rather like Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, but I think his acting is a bit insincere at a couple of parts, which is typical (but he’s pretty good overall).

It’s a beautiful plot, and the movie sticks to it closely, only taking a few small liberties.

The sets, lighting, animation, cinematography, and post production are brilliant. One shot in particular was planned so well (the one looking through the hole created by Nick resting on his hand), I immediately had flashbacks to my days of studying how an artist arranges a frame in a comic book. It’s outstanding in that aspect throughout.

The music is modern (including a Jay-Z song), with heavy beats, which clashes a little with the 1920s setting, but you just may love it. It gives it a unique feel that’s typical of Luhrmann’s works.

And for sensitive eyes, there’s at least one uncomfortable scene to watch out for.

Here’s The Great Gatsby movie trailer if I’ve piqued your interest:

And I’ll close with those last-four paragraphs of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece—if you have a flare for the literary:
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . And one fine morning ——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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— J