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Ah, such a wonderful, beautiful mess of a film.

I find it strange how I’ve seen three of Luhrmann’s five films.  I don’t recall Romeo + Juliet much (and I haven’t seen Moulin Rouge! either), but I do remember Australia being two epic films connected together by a montage of sorts.  It was strange, and disconnected from itself, but it was big and bold and certainly impressive.  Gatsby shows that off again, with the grand scale, how big and stuff everything is, and how it threatens to overwhelm everything at times.  It’s melodrama is so over the top at times too, and yet it’s that melodrama that drives the film forward to its devastating, tragic end.  The voice over is all over the place at times.  It’s a mess, but it’s such a great mess.

Oh, and the soundtrack and score is incredible too.  It shouldn’t work (especially the use of modern pieces over some specific 1920s era parties), but it adds a certain flavor to it and gives it new energy and passion in the proceedings.  Again, big and beautiful and messy.  I’m curious if that’s Luhrmann’s motif in general.

All the actors are in top form here.  DiCaprio is certainly awesome as Jay Gatsby, a man with great charm but who hides behind many secrets.  Carey Mulligan, one of my favorite actresses (see An Education, Never Let Me Go, Drive, and Shame as prime examples), is once again great as Daisy Buchanan, playing well with a character who is more superficial than she appears.  Tobey Maguire is good as Nick Carraway, the man stuck in the middle of Gatsby wanting to relive his past and trying to figure out his own future.  I really like Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan though, a truly rat bastard of a character.  His performance probably sold me on how much I hate his character.

The story itself is fine.  I haven’t read the book in years (though I should), though Jean told me this was a pretty good adaptation of it.  What I think the film does well, and it’s a credit to Luhrmann in general, was to create the craziness of 1920s America, when Wall Street was making tons of money and prohibition fueled cheap liquor and speakeasies all over.  The color and the fashion reflected that, but also the energy and passion.  It showed off rather well too the excess of everything, and how easy it was to both rise to prominence, but also how quickly one can fall, and how hard that fall can be.  The stock market crash that followed a few years later is a grim reminder of such things, and it reflects a lot too on the most recent recession in 2008, where people lived hard and fast and beyond their means, only to see it disappear when the stock market fell and banks foreclosed on a lot of people.

So yeah, the film offers a bit of something beyond the excess and the glam.  It’s interesting in that regard.  It’s Luhrmann though: expect beauty, expect things on a grand scale, expect a mess.  You won’t be disappointed.

EDIT: Jean and I saw it in 3D.  It looked really good, surprisingly.  Just wanted to add that.

A secret affair. A large stash of cash. A chance to get away, and an elaborate plot to do it. And then things start going horribly wrong. That is essentially the plot of The Square, an ultra tense modern noir thriller from Australia. The plot is set in less than ten minutes, while the rest of the film is non-stop in how things get progressively worse, almost in a ludicrous fashion. You’d hate to be Raymond, but that’s how his luck ends up. It must be the affair, really, that’s causing all this rotten stuff to happen. Incredible to watch, with an ending that’ll leave you shocked and breathless.

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