The classic tale of love, lust, living the life, and throwing a great party in the 20′s, all to the sweet and soulful tunes of Jay-Z.
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is an aspiring artist who searches for inspiration and passion when he decides to leave the Midwest and travel to New York City, where all of the hustle and bustle is a-foot. Nick finds himself there, looking for his own taste of the American Dream, but also lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Jay just so also happens to be across the bay from Nick’s cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), who’s with her d-bag-of-a-hubby husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Nick soon finds himself drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, deceits, passions, ways of having fun, and most of all: their secrets.
Believe it or not, The Great Gatsby was one of the very-few books that I have actually had the pleasure of sitting down, taking time out of my day for, and read to the final page. It was a hard piece of literature to get through, but thankfully, I had the bragging-rights and all to say that I was able to conquer it, as well as being able to say I knew what the “big surprise” actually was. Can’t say that about many books (mainly because I haven’t read many), but it still had me wondering just what could be made of with this material, if it were ever made for the screen one more time.
And Baz Luhrmann was definitely not the first choice I had in mind.
Actually, that last statement is starting off on the wrong-foot because I can’t say anything bad against Luhrmann’s direction, or what it is that he tries to do with this material. If anything, the guy tries his damn-near hardest to get past the fact that this is just dry material, made for the sake of reminding everybody how freakin’ awesome the Roaring Twenties actually were. Despite the gimmicky 3D aspect behind this movie (trust me, not even worth the watch in that extra-dimension), the movie does look very purrty and once again, you can tell that Luhrmann really put his heart and feel into making this movie look like it exactly reads out. Loud, lavish parties filled with extraneous amounts of glitz, color, glamour, and loads, and loads of champagne. Being able to match the look I had in my head of what the setting actually looked-like after reading the book, I realized that Luhrmann had a bigger-imagination than even myself was graced with, which makes the movie all the more visually-outstanding.
However, pretty colors, pretty things, and pretty people can only go so far. And in Luhrmann’s case: it’s sad to see. You can jump-start this material with as much exuberance and energy as your little heart desires, but if you can’t get to the heart of the story and feel what it was like to live in this period, then you have all but lost me. That’s exactly what I felt like when I watched Luhrmann try whatever it was that he could to make it seem as if he had actually read the novel, and/or still remembered it to this day. Instead, it just seems like he SparkNote’d the hell out of this thing, went through the motions, and stamp his own trademarks here and there. You know, just for show.
But it’s one of those shows that’s obvious and it lost me about half-way through, once I realized that this movie didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Granted, I wasn’t on-the-edge-of-my-seat considering I knew how the material would play out, and what characters would be doing what in certain situations, but I was still interested in seeing what Luhrmann could pull-off to surprise the hell out of me. Sadly, nothing really seemed to make me fall back in my chair and wonder how he pulled it all off. Everything seems so cut-and-dry with character’s emotions and dilemmas; the “big reveals” are nowhere near being subtle, as they were in the novel; and everybody else here, feels as if they just got out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, but have a fancy-schmancy accent. Okay, maybe the characters aren’t that bad, but they are pretty damn dull. A real shame too, because the cast working with these characters really seem to know what they’re doing, it’s just that the direction isn’t there to help them succeed.
Tobey Maguire plays our narrator for the whole, 2 hours: Nick Carraway. Maguire is alright in a role that doesn’t ask for much, and doesn’t get much back in-return. It’s just Tobey, being Tobey, and whether or not he’s acting like this, or this; you don’t really give a shit what else he’s doing. All you want him to do is not be distracting by how geeky he is, and he wasn’t. Good job, Tobes! New-comer Elizabeth Debicki actually walks away clean with this movie, as she’s the only one who really feels as if she would have been the gal to beat around this period of time, and reminds me of the older-days of Hollywood, where the dames seemed to run rampant all throughout the town. Sort of reminded me of a younger-Kristin Scott Thomas, minus the French and nudity. Pretty bummed out by the latter aspect. Damn you, Baz! Couldn’t “up” the rating to at least a soft R? Bastard.
As Nick’s cuzzy, Daisy, Carey Mulligan looks exactly like the character I imagined in my head when I read it all those years ago, but seems slightly-dull in the way she prances around character-to-character, throughout the whole story. The only thing she wants in this whole movie is to just live a peaceful, happy life, but yet; she’s still stuck with the bastard that continues to cheat on her, right in front of her nose. And to make matters worse, she then decides to mess around herself. Pretty smart girl if I don’t say so myself. Playing that philanderer of a hubby, Tom Buchanan, is Joel Edgerton who seems to take a whole box of delight chewing the scenery with his thin-mustache, but it goes nowhere. Instead, it seems like the guy never has anything good to say, morally-right to do, or even brings any happiness around him. He’s just a miserable, sad-sack of a dude that lacks no moral-understanding of what’s going down. In the novel, there was more to him than just a dude looking to get revenge. But, once again, Baz didn’t seem to get that part of the novel. All he saw as an opportunity to get a bunch of people to beat around the bush with one another about who’s sleeping with who. Gets old, real fast.
Thankfully, the only one who saves these characters and this movie is the man himself: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. Right from that definitive-shot where we first meet him, Leo seems to be having the time of his life as Gatsby. He’s living the life of a billionaire that looks handsome, wears lavish-colors, likes beautiful things, and always holds hospitality at his upper-most important factor of being a person. He’s everything, any person in their right mind would ever want to be, except there’s more to this dude than you may think. Leo is great at playing the cool, charmer of a man that Gatsby shows-off to everybody around him, but is even better when it comes to peeling-away the layers of who the hell this guy just might be, and whether or not he can be trusted. You never know with this guy, and Leo is very good at keeping us guessing as to when he’s going to just lose his shit, and at what velocity he’ll lose it at. If it wasn’t for Leo, this movie would have fallen down the drain, but with him: it survives by a hair. A relatively longer-than-usual hair, but it’s still ready to be cut-off at any second.
Consensus: Baz Luhrmann knows what it takes to make The Great Gasby‘s fourth, and hopefully, final big-screen adaptation as beautiful and eye-appealing as ever, but all of the effort he puts into the look of it, doesn’t translate well into the drama, the message, the characters, or the overall-feel that the novel originally had. Yup, somehow Jack White songs just didn’t cover what it meant to be a flapper during the 20′s.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
Oh, now I see where the attraction for Tom came first for Katie, after all.
This plot follows a new, super-cool agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he embarks on his mission to uncover the mole who has framed him for the murders of his entire IMF team. The answers that he comes up with aren’t that easy to find in the first-place, so he’s got to use his acquired set of skills to make all the magic happen.
After screwing myself over and not going out to see Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, I realized a huge mistake not only because I didn’t see the best-received mainstream movie of 2011, but because I haven’t seen a single-one of these Mission: Impossible movies. I don’t know what it was, the fact that I’m not incredibly huge on action-movies that feature spies that aren’t named James Bond, or I just wasn’t falling for the same crap of watching Cruise be a total bad-ass by kicking ass and punching-out some pretty neat-o one-liners for two hours. Either way, I didn’t see them and I feel like I needed to and I sort of see why I missed them in the first-place: they were exactly what I expected them to be.
A name you don’t usually hear associated with action-movies is Brian De Palma and it’s pretty cool to see such a talented guy, flex his directing-muscles and do something new, cool, and improved with the same old tired genre of action. In ways, De Palma gets to do just that, but in other ways, not really. What I liked about De Palma’s direction here is that most of these shots feel deserved and the way he frames certain scenes are more than you would expect from any other action movie of this multitude. Instead of just blasting us over the head constantly, with a bunch of action-scenes that feel the need to be loud, aggressive and full of CGI, we get small, calculated scenes that burst with tension, without ever really seeming like it’s trying too hard.
There was even that one memorable scene where Hunt gets lowered into the data bank room and can’t make a peep, or else all of the alarms will go off and his cover will be blown. Before hand, I heard a lot about this scene and heard that it was the most memorable of the whole movie, and that was no lie, because it’s the one scene where I really felt on-the-edge-of-my-seat, throughout the whole 2 hours. That’s not to say that the rest of the movie wasn’t thrilling, because it was, it’s just that this scene in particular stood out the most because it seemed like the most original and refreshing idea out of the whole-product. De Palma takes the idea of “not making a peep, or the cover is blown” so seriously, that the whole sequence is nearly played in silence, where all we hear is the sound of breathing and slight-movements coming from Hunt. It’s a real thrilling sequence that shows you that De Palma wasn’t going to let any big-time, Hollywood production get in the way of his uprising tension. Sadly, though, he does let them get in the way of everything else and that’s what sucked.
It’s obvious that De Palma didn’t have total and complete control over this movie and the way the final-product looked and played-out, because there seems to be a lot of problems that we usually get with the action genre, that I’m just tired of. First of all, the story makes no sense whatsoever and I’m glad that De Palma focuses more on that aspect of this movie, but if you’re going to do it, do it right and not to the point of where I’m scratching my head, wondering “who did what?” and “why it happened?” Too many questions for an action flick and it shows that maybe a twist or two in a movie works for pieces like Blow Out and Dressed to Kill, but not for a story about Ethan Hunt. In reality, he doesn’t need them, all he needs is his really cool, super-agent skills that make you feel as if you are not worthy to be in his presence.
It also gets worse when the last 10 minutes turn into nothing else, but the same old garbage-like action movies that we are so used to seeing, filled with intense CGI that feels dated even 16 years later, and an unbelievable action-sequence that I’m usually fine with from time-to-time, but here, not so much. In all honesty, I feel like all of the confusion that goes on throughout this movie and it’s direction is the fact that De Palma just doesn’t fit-in well with the Hollywood royalty, and it seems as if his script, his final-product, and his ideas for a new, and improved action movie, were all used in filming, but never fully thought-out once it came to the actual final-product itself. You can blame anybody you want for that: Hollywood for being so stingy and closed-minded; De Palma for being so gullible thinking that Hollywood was going to let him tinker around with a movie based off of a beloved TV show; or the bazillion writers, who felt the dire need to include action, comedy, espionage, suspense, human-drama, twists, turns, mystery, and a dash of romance all into a story that didn’t need to be anything other than, “CIA agent gets framed, finds out who it was, and kills him.” But to be honest, I think the real one to blame is non-other than Mr. Ethan Hunt himself, that’s right, ex-Mr. Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise.
See, even though Tom Cruise does a great job as Ethan Hunt and definitely makes us realize just how frickin’ swift and cool this guy really is, we never get a moment where he’s not around and I think that’s all because Cruise was the producer on this and basically was given, whatever he damn well pleased at the time. It’s not a bad thing to have Cruise in the fore-front of your movie because the guy can act, and the guy can do this action-role very well, but every single-shot of the entire movie! I mean I get it, man, you’re a really cool actor that’s a big-name to have attached, but give somebody else something to do, other than smell the back-burns of your flatulence.
Case in point, high-quality stars like Kristin Scott Thomas, Ving Rhames, Jean Reno (Leon), Vanessa Redgrave, and even freakin’ Emilio Estevez are all here, but put on the side-lines because Cruise felt the need to be on his own time, and service his own movie. They are all great stars that can put in some great work, if they are given that shot, but they never are because it seems like Cruise wants it all about him, him, him, and nobody else. Yeah, Jon Voight gets the biggest-role out of the whole supporting-cast, but even his character goes through a weird-ass transformation about half-way through and just adds to the whole confusion of the movie, it’s plot, and just how Voight can move so well when he’s practically dying? Oh well, answers that will probably never be answered and who’s fault is that? You Tommy, you. Katie, I hate to say it, you were right, honey. Good decision on your part.
Consensus: De Palma definitely tries his damn near-hardest to try and make Mission: Impossible different from all of the other action movies out there in “Conventional Land”, but can’t seem to really get his final-product away unscathed from Hollywood without a couple of edits, re-writes that just seem to clutter everything up, and a lead-performance from Cruise that is good, but also feels a bit over-bearing as his face basically pops-up in every shot.
It’s like Hitchcock with subtitles.
Paediatrician Dr Alex Beck (François Suzette) has been devastated since his childhood sweetheart and wife, Margot, was savagely murdered in the early days of their marriage eight years before. But when he receives an anonymous email, he sees a woman’s face standing in a crowd and being filmed in real time. Margot’s face… is she still alive?
Wow doesn’t that plot sound so different and original….? Of course you know that this is pretty much the same old generic thriller plot we get where the Everday Man finally gets to square off against The Man and find out more about himself and just what the hell is really going on with this case. However, the difference here is that it’s from French film-maker Guillaume Canet, which makes a huge difference.
Canet starts this film out as your ordinary mystery thriller where you have no idea what’s going on and why everything is so suspicious all of a sudden. The atmosphere is pretty chilling but it only gets better once the whole thrilling aspect of the flick starts to pick up and that’s where this film got me. Canet keeps on throwing us plot twist after plot twist after plot twist and it keeps the story more and more intriguing and interesting as it goes on. Certain things happen at first, and you have no idea why or for what reason but as the film goes on the answers start to come out and Canet will throw you a little brief hint here and there just to fool around with you. The problem most people will have with this flick is that there is a lot of reading here involved, but I think that also helps it since my French is terrible and it helps spell everything out just a bit more than what I usually get with these types of thrillers.
You get everything here, that you would get with any normal type of thriller: running , chasing, romance, heartbreak, bad things happening to good people, people dying, people getting shot, people about to get shot, gangsters, sex, and some lesbians (not in that sexy way though). It’s all here but it all feels fresh and original once the story starts to develop more, almost as if Canet watched ‘The Fugitive’ but realized that half-way through that you can still have all of the other stuff that happen in these types of flicks and decided to just throw them all in there for shits and gigs. Somehow, it works.
My only problem with this flick was that at the end, when all of the questions finally get answered in one big shock of a scene, the film still doesn’t seem to make as much sense as it would like to think. I can’t really give away any major plot points and I can’t say that everything in this flick didn’t make any sense but there will still some head scratchers for me even though I payed attention to the whole damn thing. This whole paragraph probably sounds very vague and stupid but I just don’t want to give any of the plot twists away so go watch it yourself and see what you think effers!
Since I don’t really watch a whole bunch of French films (let alone, foreign films in general), I don’t know who is really the who’s who of French cinema but I can definitely say that they have some notable faces here that all do excellent jobs. François Suzette is pretty damn good as Doctor Alexandre Beck, a guy who just wants to know what the hell happened to his wife. This guy seems very normal but then we start to see him change in the midst of all these crazy happenings and it’s great how Suzette was able to channel all of that simply through the emotions and looks on his face. I honestly thought that this was going to kick the whole police department’s ass and with the inspiration that he had for doing so, I wouldn’t doubt it either. There are a whole bunch of familiar faces here such as Kristin Scott Thomas as one of his lesbian friends (meowww), Gilles Lellouche as a tough-ass hoodlum that you want on your side named Bruno, Jean Rochefort as a bad-ass gangster that doesn’t speak much or even show up that much but when he does, you know it’s some real business, and there are plenty others here that you have all seen before but just can’t say their names.
Consensus: Tell No One doesn’t make perfect sense when it’s all said and done, but the film is entertaining, exciting, and features plenty of plot twists to keep you watching as the mystery unfolds. Damn, the French really can do it all!
Sappy, but still works.
Faced with a sobering diagnosis of terminal cancer, George (Kevin Kline) decides to construct a beautiful new house on his land overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while at the same time trying to connect with his estranged son (Hayden Christensen).
As soon as I saw the trailer, I was expecting the conventional, predictable, Lifetime movie wanna be, tearjerker. In ways, I got that, but that’s not really a bad thing.
The screenplay is alright, however, I couldn’t help myself but to be annoyed at times. The blending of comedy, and drama, worked a little well, but there would be times when I didn’t know if the movie was trying to be funny, or just being sarcastic in a way. But this film is you obvious tearjerker. It does blatant sad things just to get a rise out of you, which I didn’t like, and thought was actually pretty cheap, considering, I think if they just stuck with their original script, and got rid of all the sappy crap, then this film probably wouldn’t have annoyed me as much.
However, some of the dramatic stuff does work, and you do get connected to the characters. But it’s not because you want to, it’s just because that’s how the film has written them out to be. There are some scenes that dramatically work, and others, that well, don’t necessarily hit the mark.
There was one thing that made me like this movie, more than I expected, and it was the great performances from the cast. Kevin Kline gives a great performance, maybe one of the best of his career, cause he handles this guy, George, with such ease and such grace, that he’s both charming, and serious, which makes him a joy to watch, and likable. Hayden Christensen may get a lot of ish, for not being a very good actor, but in this one, he hits every single note so well. Hayden plays to perfection the disaffected brat desperately seeking attention from parents who are so tied up with appearances that they can’t see the simple cry for love. The scenes between these two, where they are at each others neck’s basically work so well, and are played out in a very detailed way, and don’t seem fake at all. Kristin Scott Thomas, plays Kline’s ex-wife, and she has some very good spots as well. And then you add a horny Jena Malone to the equation, and then you get some funny things happening.
Consensus: Life as a House has some nice touches, that are highlighted by great performances, but feels too conventional, and manipulative, in showing you that you should care for these characters, and be upset by all the little bad things that happen.
See not all Germans are bad, kind of.
Adapted from Michael Ondaatje’s acclaimed novel set against the backdrop of World War II, Anthony Mingehlla’s Oscar-winning drama stars Ralph Fiennes as a horribly burned pilot who recounts a tale of doomed romance to the nurse tending him (Juliette Binoche). As his story is revealed via flashback, so too are secrets about his identity and the depth of his passion for the woman he loved (Kristin Scott Thomas). Willem Dafoe co-stars.
The film is played out and in the style of old Hollywood films, such as Lawrence of Arabia, or Sunset Blvd. However, the way its structured makes it stand-out more from those classics.
The direction from great director Anthony Mingehlla is what makes this film great. I liked how we came into this story, not knowing much about any of these characters, especially, Fiennes, and through the flashbacks it all plays out as if its really happening. Too many times have these non-linear plot structures played out, and we are confused, and totally twisted up about what is actually happening, but with this it plays along to both stories, and they work hand in hand.
There are many aspects of this film that just make this amazing. It is shot so beautifully, with plenty of images in the desert of Egypt, while feeling like Indiana Jones, with the Persian set pieces, and actually looking realistic. The screenplay adds a lot more onto the subject material. Its a moving love story, but also shows the harsh realities that come with love, and especially when the love is dangerous, as we have here. There are moments of love that are happy and passionate, however there are plenty of times, that its sad, and can not work out. So much detail was put into this and you can just tell.
The problem with this film that plenty of others have had, was that it is that its too long. For me, I didn’t think it was totally long, however, there were parts that could have been cut out, along with the slow pace that it so dreadfully annoying at times. There were also moments in this film that I felt the love between Fiennes and Scott Thomas was a bit too self-absorbed. They didn’t quite think of anyone else when they were having this affair, and it kind of spiraled out of control, how we were supposed to feel pity for these lovers.
Ralph Fiennes, stars in his best performance, since the bad-ass Nazi, in Schindler’s List. He not only uses his charming looks to win the audience over, but there are plenty of times, that you can see the pain he goes through as this character trying to understand the way of true love. French actress, Juliette Binoche, is even better showing that she can use beauty, to convey the central innocence and likability within a character. Kristin Scott Thomas is great in her performance, and the scenes she has with Fiennes, are just sometimes spot-on with the chemistry. Willem Dafoe is a kind of random character, but still has some good moments when he’s on screen.
Consensus: Though terribly long at times, The English Patient still delivers a true, and moving portrayal of love, with powerful performances, and a direction that is beauty.
So many rich people, and such a little place.
Director Robert Altman’s witty murder mystery won an Oscar for its screenplay, which really takes off when Sir William (Michael Gambon) is found dead soon after his guests arrive for a weekend stay at his English estate. Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas), Constance (Maggie Smith) and Ivor (Jeremy Northam) try to make sense of the crime. Meanwhile, gossip flies among the household help (including Helen Mirren, Ryan Phillippe and Clive Owen).
I have to give a lot of credit to Robert Altman, he does great with lots and lots of big stuff. After I saw Short Cuts, I was totally impressed by this dude. How can you make a film with about 20 of Britain’s biggest stars, and cramp all of them into one setting? Well I found it out, and that is what this movie is.
This film has one of the very good screenplays I have seen in awhile. The film right from the get-go puts you in the middle of the rich snobs upstairs, and the happy workers downstairs. You get to know everybody when the film starts, and although there is a murder mystery to the film, its more about social classes and hanky panky in the 1930s. Altman, as he did for Short Cuts, does a great job of making a statement, but focusing on the story at hand, while still spicing up the film with short bursts of comedy, which at firsts catches you off guard.
The film also has very nice little touches that work well with the film as well. Altman’s way of using the camera, and following these people around the house, almost makes you feel as if you are there right with them. The film uses a cool look to it, with a breezy color in the background of the film the whole time, and for some reason just adds on a lot of mystery to the film.
However, I did have some big problems with the film. The first one, isn’t so much the film’s problem, as much as it is for me, but the film has a lot of British people talking, and its almost impossible to understand what their saying, thus confusing me in the story. Secondly, the film could have used a lot more of the murder mystery itself in the film. When it focused on the mystery, it gave me a sense that I was watching the board game Clue, in real life, and it was mysterious, but never fully creepy, cause the film cuts away from it too much. Lastly, I though the score was kind of cheap, and in all honesty I think the film would have been better with no score rather than just the music played in the film itself. The score tried to convey emotions, instead it just came out of nowhere sometimes, and was stupid.
The best thing about this film has to be its all-star cast. Too say one performances is better than the others, would be totally unfair, to this large-ass ensemble. I liked mostly how everyone in this film was such a big star but they all got into their roles, and they weren’t just the star being somebody else. And when the so-called “mystery”, comes into play you really don’t know who did it because everybody is a big star, and your not so certain of who may actually be the killer. If I had to choose one dude, that was kind of in the way of the film, it was Ryan Phillipe. His accent is pretty bad when it comes to acting as a Scottish dude, and the movie plays him off to be this dumb-ass kid, which sucks for him, cause he is a good actor.
Consensus: Gosford Park still has its sour patches, but achieves with an incredible screenplay, inspired direction once again from the great Robert Altman, and a huge ensemble that does not disappoint.