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The Great Gatsby movie review: candy coloured desecration

Director Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby cements his reputation as the quasi-intellectual’s Michael Bay, who destroys things with glitter instead of Transformers.

There is one — and, sadly, only one — good scene in the new, gaudy, mega budget adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It’s an emotional confrontation between three people at different points in a love triangle. The dialogue is prickly and tense. The actors (Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton and Leonardo DiCaprio) overdo it, but in a film in which everything is overdone, this is the moment the cast negotiate with a filmmaker determined to smother them with sparkles and find a satisfying middle ground.

It’s a good scene because director Baz “never enough bling” Luhrmann could not fit a crane inside such a small room. He could not film it from a helicopter. He left the buckets of confetti, glitter and snowflakes on another soundstage. Even Luhrmann had the nous not to rip the scene to pieces with crash zooms, camera swoops and rapid cuts; what, as Samuel L. Jackson noted in Pulp Fiction, “alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.” A crucial part of directing is trusting your cast. One of Luhrmann’s key problems is that he self-evidently does not.

The glam-porn devotee’s distrust of actors has worsened over time, as budgets soared and his ego inflated accordingly, or vice versa — but there were traces of it from the get-go. In Strictly Ballroom (1992) Paul Mercurio was a dancer first and an actor second. In Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001) the cast were used as instruments, and if they happened to exhibit some humanity in the process, so much the better.

In the eponymous role, DiCaprio had no chance of making a real human impression until well into the second half of Gatsby. He fights an impossible battle against blizzards of over-baked production values and editing room carnage, the magnitude of which he could only have vaguely grasped at time of shooting, splatters of Moulin Rouge!’s psychotropic can-can dancing presumably ricocheting through his mind.

It is when the film eventually slows down that something resembling a tangible character emerges, but by then the damage has been done and Luhrmann’s cartoony grasp of a magnificent novel has been liquored-up and dumbed-down: more Big Mouse than Fitzgerald, a gentle stroll through a theme park (don’t forget your 3D glasses!) of enchanting looking gardens and Disney-like mansions.

His previous film, Australia (2008), was a giant sizzling shrimp of stereotypes, a typically Luhrmannian more-is-more spectacle told with all the grace of Paul Hogan walloping hunks of meat with a rainbow coloured spatula. It was intended, one can only assume from its title and masturbatory melange of Aussiesyncrasies, to pack a punch as the great Australian film. Instead it was a phosphorescent ball sack of true blue patrimony: shirtless rovers, Aboriginal Dream Time, beer and blokes, shearers and sheep.

It says something of the 50-year-old auteur’s ambition that his next project would make a play for the great American film, or at least rework one of Uncle Sam’s most prized literary belongings. As Luhrmann supporters have noted, his Gatsby will promote Fitzgerald’s work to a new generation of readers more inclined to dip in shallower waters (say, Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling) and who will be bitterly disappointed to discover the book does not explode with glitter once opened.

The moment Gatsby (DiCaprio) first meets narrator Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) was an understated element in the novel indicative of Fitzgerald’s precise, whispery prose; I remember it as a cautious moment between two would-be friends. Naturally Luhrmann decides to film it with fireworks exploding in the background and an orchestra pumping out tunes — an indication that maybe, just maybe, he might have misinterpreted the original text, or stuck the pages together with melted down candy cane before deciding how to adapt it.

This time around (there have been three other Gatsby movies, including a lost 1926 version) a fresh bookend framing device has Carraway sharing thought waves with Dr. Perkins ( Jack Thompson). Carraway is encouraged to write the story of how he met a mysterious millionaire called Jay Gatsby and what became of their relationship.

This framing device was inserted so Maguire can literally write “The Great” before Gatsby’s name later in the movie, suggesting Luhrmann actually believed the character to be, well, great — not the uneasy, manipulating, shimmering mirage constructed by Fitzgerald. Gatsby’s moniker is, perhaps, a nod to magic’s golden era performers — i.e. “The Great Houdini” — which is to say, another way of suggesting he is more illusion than man.

Set in New York in the roaring 20s, Luhrmann’s version (co-written by Craig Pearce) amplifies the story as a tragic romance played out between Gatsby, Daisy (Mulligan) and Tom (Joel Edgerton), with Carraway sandwiched in the middle.

The only theme that translates from book to film with a patina of the power or significance of the source material pertains to the doomed nature of Gatsby’s mission to reconstruct an inimitable past, the complications of which he is incapable of seeing clearly through a haze of nostalgia. So deeply written into the book and screenplay, and reiterated directly via dialogue for those who hadn’t already picked up on it, even Luhrmann can get this more or less right.

But the film itself is very wrong. Like a drunk clown delivering a eulogy, it’s hard to maintain dignity when you make such ludicrous choices, and Luhrmann seems to have seriously believed he could take control of a richly nuanced drama by bombarding it with special effects. There’s an important difference between a) putting a different spin on an old text, b) misinterpreting it and c) misinterpreting it to the point that you celebrate and glorify the same things the author so carefully cautioned and, ultimately, denounced.

Thus we have headlines such as ‘Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby is an ode to the art of excess‘, the irony being Fitzgerald worked slavishly to achieve the opposite: to represent those champagne soaked parties as means to hangovers, the glitz and glam of the bourgeois as devastating illusions. One could suggest this fundamental part of the Gatsby ethos need not apply to an artist in a different medium pursuing a different “vision” — but the extent to which the thought processes around construction of characters and context have been corroded is also key to understanding why Luhrmann’s version barely registers any dramatic impact.

Luhrmann has one style for directing drama, and it’s “Hallmark.” We see this when Gatsby eventually slows and the film affords its actors some, albeit little, space to breathe (it even includes retro car racing scenes reminiscent of screwball comedies: Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels [1941] and Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business [1952]).

But it’s not the drama that will rouse general audiences from their couches to see this glitter-smothered wrecking ball. Five films into a career that began relatively modestly then exploded like a dynamite-rigged disco, Gatsby cements Luhrmann’s place in the film industry as the quasi-intellectual’s Michael Bay: a pedantic perfectionist fighting an impossible battle to make art, or make art better, by simply doing more. More glitter. More colour. Bigger sets. Brighter lights. Faster. Louder. Larger.

Supporters of both directors rebuke critics by turning to the same place. They turn to the box office.

There’s a name for the Bay/Luhrmann style. As the Transformers trash humper so eloquently put it, it’s called “fucking the frame.” Bay makes bad movies about macho men, bathtub toys and explosions; in other words, his style matches the context they are received in and the wrapping with which they are packaged. Luhrmann’s creative sensibilities arise from the same gene pool but, given a false veneer of high art, they become deceptive and potentially corrosive, capable of eating away at the heart of something profound and turning it into hollowed-out husk.

For directors who don’t wish to have their work compared to great literature (and who would?) I have one simple, fail-safe strategy you can follow: don’t base your films on great literature. If you do you shoulder a big burden, and risk looking like Luhrmann does: a kid in a museum more interested in sucking lollipops and listening to his iPod than looking at the paintings.

Luhrmann would be well advised to read Sidney Lumet’s book on making movies. The late filmmaker discusses key challenges directors face including determining the essence of a feature before it is made (what is it supposed to say? Why am I making it?) then using all the wonderful weapons they have to achieve it. This is form driven by content. Baz got it around the wrong way, big time.

If you own a copy of The Great Gatsby, you don’t need to cough up hard-earned to see Luhrmann’s movie. The experience can be replicated quite easily at home.

Here’s what you do. Play hip hop loudly. Retrieve the book from your shelf and douse it with glitter. Get a (preferably gold painted) hammer and smash it repeatedly. Turn the music up louder. Throw on more glitter. Do it again. Do it harder. Do it faster. And don’t, whatever you do, pause to consider what the author of the book might think of the grisly, glittering mess around you.

The Great Gatsby’s Australian theatrical release date: May 30, 2013. 

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  • 1
    mattsui
    Posted May 28, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Ooh-err! Nice one Luke B.
    I was never going to see this film any way, so thanks for backing my decision there.
    Instead, I think I’ll get me some glitter and a hammer and indulge in a ‘Baz’ remake of 1984 or Crime and punishment…. sounds fun!

  • 2
    Holden Back
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I had an evil thought that “Singin’ in the Rain” will be next through the Baz machine. I hope having shared that, it can never happen.

  • 3
    kiz Kong
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Best review ever!!!

  • 4
    Noom Rise
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Luke, it’s best you go back to reading about how others go about making movies. It’s clear your total experience of what is involved comes from ‘how to’ books. Which is fine but don’t review a film with ‘A crucial part of directing is trusting your cast.’ when you’ve never had one and other references to Sidney Lumet’s thoughts.

  • 5
    joseph sheree
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Interesting thoughts! For one thing, apart from the party scenes, what other scenes have glitter? I mean enough to warrant 8 mentions of the word. ;)

    You said there’s only one good scene and it’s the one in the city room (with the ice pick). I’ve read a few other reviews that said this as well and I’m really surprised that this is the same scene that gets mentioned. What about the scene where Gatsby asks Nick for a favour and meets Daisy at his house for tea? It’s done so well and in that cheeky Fitzgerald way. And somehow, if you KNOW the story, know the characters already, then the moment really means something. I thought it was like a secret between the reader and the screen.

    I think you also have to understand who the intended audience is. It seems to me like it’s aimed for the younger generation who were forced to read the book in high school, study all the ‘themes’, watch the Clayton film and walk away thinking ‘yeah, good story bro’ but that’s about it. They came away from it with an appreciation but not wholly caring enough to think about it again. Until now…

    ‘Precise whispery prose’ works well in the novel but it doesn’t translate to film, we already know this. It seems people expect him to be faithful to the style of his prose, rather than the actual story itself, and I’m not sure that would make any sense in cinema. Baz wanted to be faithful, so he kept it in the right era, adopted the right costumes, used the same language and in his way that was always going to be an excessive affair. But does that render it so bad as to make you question if it’s really a movie at all? So Baz has chosen to go in a different direction to highlight the tragedy of the story. Do you really think its lost in the costumes and the elaborate set design? Why be so focussed on that anyway? I think Baz goes for the big, bright, shiny things to attract everyone (and the everyone will take from it a very different message around glamour and decadence). But ultimately he’s speaking seriously to only a very small subset of viewers and to them I think he delivers on the premise of the novel.

    I think the key is that you can’t take a theatrical director like Baz so seriously, which makes comparing him on a scale of Michael Bay to Sidney Lumet, seem so farfetched and unnecessary. IMO anyway :)

  • 6
    Stephen
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Having won $200m + back, off a $100m + budget, I suspect that Mr Luhrmann will go on desecrating for a while yet.

  • 7
    michael r james
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Is Baz Luhrmann our own Luc Besson?

    Starting with Subway (1985) and (La Femme) Nikita (1990) to The Fifth Element, Taxi, the Transporter series, Taken and (oh dear) Taken 2, and a huge number of other producer/writing occasional directorial credits, the critical overview of the hyperactive Frenchman is, like Luhrmann, “mixed”. His most ferocious critics are his fellow countrymen. He is the leading light of a film type derisively mocked by French cineastes as the Cinema du Look, ie. superficial, kinematic with visual style favoured over substance, and latterly increasingly driven by star power.

    Actually, rather than any betrayal of cinema he has been true to his lifelong inspiration: anime (ie. comic books). And ahead of his time.

    While the comparison is too flattering of Luhrman, the other point of comparison is that Besson has been a very significant factor in keeping the blood pumping in the French film-making industry. Last year, after a decade of lobbying, the Cité du Cinéma was opened in Paris (in the decrepit industrial area of Saint Dennis in the suburbs north of Montmarte) which brings all the infrastructure for making a film on one site and aims to compete with Pinewood and Shepparton Studios in London (the latter owned by Ridley & Tony Scott, both of whom have been accused of the same sin, ie. Cinema du Look) and CineCita, Rome. The first film to be made there stars Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfieffer.

    The point is that Luhrmann makes his extravagant movies here with the same mixture of international headliners and local talent, and importantly local technical talent. Just like Taken was critically ravaged it nevertheless took hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide, and who knows, may have been the final straw in convincing the French government to come to the party with Cité du Cinéma.

    Luke, you don’t need telling that making movies is hard and making commercially successful movies is even harder, so I feel Baz, like Luc, needs to be given a break, and a little more credit. Even if it is not to everyone’s taste, vive la difference. And Hollywood money-men/distributors can retain some faith in Australian-made movies.

    Oh, and it was the sole Australian showing in Cannes in any category.

  • 8
    Ivan Webster
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    “[f]alse veneer of high art”? I don’t follow. You mean Luhrmann is concealing his trashy instincts beneath Fitzgerald’s high art? But if Luhrmann’s instincts are so trashy, why would he go near the high art in the first place? Michael Bay certainly never does.

    In Mr. Buckmaster’s aesthetic scheme, Luhrmann hasn’t just made an extravagant movie, he’s exceeded his place. He should stay in his own trash sandbox. Yet if he’d made the staid high art Mr. Buckmaster prefers, he’d be denounced for turning a vibrant novel into dull Merchant/Ivory, Masterpiece Theater kitsch.

    Luhrmann simply can’t win in some reviewers’ minds. He can’t even get credit for rather smoothly working most of the novel’s complicated plot into the movie. And Mr. Buckmaster doesn’t tell us why that Plaza Hotel scene works or how the trash-master pulled it off. Not much credit given to Luhrmann for trusting his actors, either.

    Lurhmann has disappointed some people’s expectations by attempting to make a punchy, kinetic, luxe and noisy movie of an American classic. But the staid attempts have already been tried, so why is he to be castigated? (Does Buckmaster think Jack Clayton’s 1974 clunker approaches high art?)

    Mostly, what Lurhmann attempts comes off. It’s a hyper-kinetic exploration of Fitzgerald’s themes, but the themes are there; and the performances mostly express the drives of the characters as Fitzgerald portrays them. Yes, the movies is drenched in color and speeds along, but that’s a valid way to express the moral spinning out of control that Fitzgerald is getting at.

    If you like your art high under all circumstances, then by all means insist on it on all occasions. But seeing Michael Bay movies doesn’t count and comparing them to what Lurhmann is doing in this movie isn’t the least bit fair.

  • 9
    G Mais
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you! You have brilliantly described how incredibly wrong this movie is. Now I don’t have to attempt to explain it to people- I will simply refer them to this spot on review.

  • 10
    a_boy
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    There, there Luke. Does that make you feel better?
    However, I prefer to take notice of “critics” who do not launch diatribes against anything they fancy disturbs their particular point of view as to ow a subject is to be treated.

    I will go to see this movie and note how it stacks up with the rather favourable review given by Mark Naglazas, an ABC critic. He has read both the earlier and the later versions of the book as well as having seen all the earlier attempts to film it. In particular he notes the importance of the narrator who is absent from some of the earlier films. In gthat respect this film is faithful to Fitzgerald’s intentions.

  • 11
    Petroleuse
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Luke, you want to know something? If you look like your photo, you’re still a (very) young man. But you sound old and bitter and angry. Now I am not young – and I certainly have my old and bitter and angry moments. So here, for what it’s worth, is my ‘moment of clarity’ – and my observations are based on my experience as a former English teacher. In the early 21st century, anything that opens the mind of a young person to reading a book written about and by a member of the Lost Generation is OK by me. Because over the next few weeks, inside every packed cinema, there will be two or three – or, maybe on a good night, eight or nine or maybe even ten – 20-somethings who decide they have to read the book. To check it out for themselves. That’s how they will discover Fitzgerald and the exquisite prose you write of so poignantly. And FFS babe it’s Baz Luhrmann – give him a squillion bucks and he directs like a four year old tripping on red cordial. Cheer up, go home, fix yourself a single malt and watch Nocky take out Jimmy on Boardwalk Empire. Very soothing :)

  • 12
    zut alors
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    A good review. I feared the Luhrmann interpretation would come to this.

  • 13
    Salamander
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I think I got the message in the first paragraph, thanks.

  • 14
    matthews chris
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Baz Luhrmann is clearly as “careless with people’s lives” as Daisy.

  • 15
    Ken Gresham
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I saw Gatsby in the land of the author a couple of weeks ago.
    The audience loved it, probably as they were there to be entertained. The idea that a movie should reflect the original book is laughable, they are different media.
    I think Baz is a fine film maker and Gatsby is a great example of movie entertainment. Just relax and stop tripping over your intellectual analysis.
    It is interesting (as usual) so many responses from people who have not even seen it. Baz and his investors will, of course, be well rewarded by this irreverent Australian view of this American “classic”. Go see it!

  • 16
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Reading critiques such as this I can well understand why many artists love their work but despise the attention that it draws. This isn’t a critique, it’s a demolition, and it’s unnecessarily cruel and spiteful.

    I saw Gatsby last night and I had every expectation that it would live up to the Baz Luhrmann style – bright, loud, camp, fast and furious. This has been the hallmark of his movie making as evidenced in all his work, so to expect, much less demand, that Baz be anything other than who he is, is naive on your part Luke.

    I thought the acting was superb, the costuming and sets were exceptional and the tightness of the script took the audience on a wild ride. The party scenes reminded me of the colour and vibrancy of Moulin Rouge – so rich, loud and racy that the images assaulted the senses.

    Baz was faithful to the essence of the story although his re-telling and presentation used considerable dramatic flourish – just like he did with Romeo and Juliet. Gatsby has Baz Luhrmann’s signature style stamped all over it, so if you don’t like his take on a story, don’t see the movie.

  • 17
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Hahahahaha. Brilliant bit of writing LUKE, “glitter-smothered wrecking ball.” Being but one of the many gems therein.

    This Daisy looks like the original dumb blonde bimbo.

    Thanks for saving me the price of entry.

  • 18
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    BTW: Those of you who feel outraged by Luke’s review should know that anyone, be they writer, artist, movie director, sculptor, etc who charges the public the cost of a ticket HAS to accept a solid bucketing is coming their way if the proffered work stinks.

    Luke speaks with all the passion of a man who loved the book, and feels defiled by the Great Betrayal; as only our Baz can do it. Hell, look what the clown did to our own country-’Australia’. He should have signed off with “Strictly Ballroom’ which was a classic.

  • 19
    Salamander
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    It’s not the “solid bucketing” (Venise) I object to, but the linguistic exhibitionism and repetition. This reviewer indulges in the alleged sins he is criticising. I couldn’t care less about the movie – haven’t seen it, don’t intend to – but might read the book.

  • 20
    Tony Kevin
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Disagree entirely! I am 70, had read the book aeons ago but pretty much forgotten it – I think I never finished it – but was moved to tears when I saw the movie this morning. It’s a beautiful, exhilarating, ultimately sad film. Go see it or you will miss something unusual and very good. Ignore this peevish review, which channels some of an equally negative (but deeper) review in the New Yorker which I read last week. But I am glad I decided to see the film anyway.

    Why de we Australians in the world of culture so often cut down our own? I think Luhrmann did a brilliant job here of making the story relevant to today’s audiences. . Edgerton and Thompson were competent in their support roles. The Sydney production is something we can be all proud of. It fits the story. Some plot framing devices deviate from the book, but dramatise the essence of the story (which I won’t spoil by discussing further). One needs to listen to the soundtrack and watch the screen carefully – important plot information is just given once.

    A special praise for Di Caprio – he captures Gatsby’s pain and confusion about his life perfectly.

    Go see it, people.

  • 21
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Cant say I have ever had much time for Baz’s films but this review is very snarky and pretty arrogant.

    Feel free to dislike the film, but no one “owns” the book or how they interpret it – this review forgets that. And as to others, it is Baz’s blood sweat and tears that made this and it seems to be selling quite well so suffer in your jocks.

    I’m with Ken Gresham on this one.

  • 22
    Ken Gresham
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Well Luke, Old Sport. Looks like the only support for your view is from people who have not seen it.

  • 23
    Tom
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    This review is frankly terrible—which surprises me because Luke’s normally a pretty decent read. But he’s lost the plot here.

    He asserts Gatsby is dull, one-note bombast—in a monotonous, bombastic spray of a review.

    He complains that it misses the point of the novel—in a review that almost entirely misses the point of cinema.

    Then calls it pointless—in a review that’s not remotely fit for purpose as such.

    Is this a review at all? Barely qualifies in my opinion.

  • 24
    TimBug
    Posted June 2, 2013 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    Against my better judgement I went and saw this with my partner and it was as bad as I expected it to be. Baz Luhrmann IS the Jay Gatsby of the film world.

    I’ve seen Michael Bay get better performances out of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.

    Stratton states in his review that “He spells everything out in large letters. Subtlety is not in his vocabulary”. I think that perfectly surmises Luhrmann’s gaping hole in his directing chops. That and his over reliance on gimmicks.

  • 25
    Aphra
    Posted June 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I loved it! I also concur with one of filmdom’s better qualified critics – published author, gifted and celebrated student (even A Listers get “A”s), currently enrolled Ph.d student , Yale, academic lecturer in film studies, poetry, in film NY, UCLA, successful exhibited artist in US and GGermany, and, importantly, working actor and director, JAmes ‘the brain’ FFranco.

    Have you read his well-informed and educated opinion of Gatsby’s critics? He thinks it a great success and so do I.

    Oh, and the music, particularly Slaughter on Ttenth Avenue, was most apt.

    Also laughed at B.az’ cameo appearance.

    Posted from ipod

  • 26
    Johnfromplanetearth
    Posted June 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Baz Luhrmann simply makes bad movies…this is no exception.

  • 27
    Mark William
    Posted June 7, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Baz Lurhmann will go down in history as a great showman, story teller ,visionary, artist and director.
    Where this blogger misses the point is in his pseudo intellectual slavery to the sensibilities of the intention of an American classic, as if it is some work that must not be interpreted from his own view of the world.
    THe whole point about Lurhmann is is artistry and vision, he is certainly unique as a director and I give him props for taking on such an american giant and interpreting it in a modern and dare I say way ahead of his time.
    Lurhmann’s style is opulent romantic and executed in such a unique way that takes us on a hyper sensory adventure.
    This blogger quaffs at ’3 D glasses’ yet this is the artistry and vision that modern day artists who are incredibly talented and work long hours to create this mastery.
    This is cutting edge visual story telling and no one can argue that Lurhmann is unique and courageous for taking on such an american iconic novel.
    I believe Luhrmann will be rev erred in the future for his unique and incredibly talented take on story telling.
    As someone who works in the world of story telling through the digital world I have great admiration for all the artist and technicians who crafted Lurhmann’s vision.
    3 D today is a serious and remarkable way to enhance our experience in story telling, it has long surpassed the novelty days of horror schlock films such as House of wax, it is a genuine tool for an artist to tell his or her story.
    I’m amazed at how conservative these thirty something blog writer s are.
    The irony is not lost on me that this pseudo cool blogger probably has his head pointing south most of the day in his iphone and laptop consumed in a technological world, yet he derides 3 D as tacky and gimmick.
    When you enter the world of Baz Luhrmann you are taken on a unique adventure, not another adaptation of a Marvel comic he takes on iconoiic and classic works of art and interprets them through his artisrty and brilliance as a visionary man who is well ahead of his time.

  • 28
    leons56
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Just watched the film – better late than never. In this case it would have been better never. What a shame – and to think I was so looking forward to this new version. It simply doesn’t work. It’s neurotic, over the top and misses the point completely. It’s trying to be too clever. Did anyone involved with this film actually read the novel? I find this film grotesque, cartoonesque and unpleasantly surreal. This is a lesson in how to ruin a brilliant piece of literature whilst failing to live up to celluloid expectations…

  • 29
    k claudon
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Art Deco – Controlled, contrived, cold just like this movie (not a film ).
    Good job Leo, you depart with dignity in tact. Toby, not so much. A painful, phony mess.
    I will stay clear of this director and his designer wife. Epic fail. Nothing personal, I know none of these folks . Big leap, long fall. Sorry.

  • 30
    Helen King
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad I read reviews like this (as well as re-read the book) before seeing the movie. I LOVED it – you set the expectations so low that I was not hypercritical, nitpicking about the adaption of a good (and, following my review, NOT as great as I’d remembered – Gatsby is an annoying character in the book and far more charismatic and believable in the film, I thought). I think we can be sucked into thinking ‘its a classic’ and not critically appraising the book, but damning almost on principle any attempt to show it in a different form. Yes, it was typically Baz, and yes, too over the top at the start, but it improved and improved as it went along, and the lead characters (with the exception of Jack Thomson – where did his part come from?) and some minor clunky characters such as Vince Colliso’s part (whatever he was meant to be), I thought were all very good. Carey Mulligan was excellent in particular. My opinion, anyhow (and by the way, not always a Baz fan – could NOT stomach Australia, for instance)

5 Trackbacks

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  5. By Movie Review: The Great Gatsby | KiKi & Tea on June 19, 2013 at 9:03 am

    ...] along the lines of ‘it wasn’t terrible’, although Luke Buckmaster from Crikey ripped poor Baz a new one. Podcasters The Spoiler Guys (aka ABC/Sydney Morning Herald film critics Alice Tynan, Giles Hardie [...

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