Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Great Gatsby

THE GREAT GATSBY--Directed by Baz Luhrmann/ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan/screenplay written by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce, based on the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald/rated PG-13/ 2 hrs. 23 min.

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(B) I had mixed feelings about this film. I definitely enjoyed the second half much more than the first. The meat of the story didn’t really make itself evident the first half. I think too much time was spent on the opulence and extravagance. After so many lavish parties, I got it. Gatsby is rich. Maybe I was tired and restless and inpatient waiting for some real substance, but over an hour into the film (waaaayyyy too long) the story grabbed my interest. I liked the character (Nick Carraway), played by Tobey McGuire a dedicated friend who was not completely blinded by the glitz. He saw Gatsby for the dreamer and optimist that he was, and appreciated him for that quality above all others. All the supporting roles were adequate. As far as the modernization of the music I prefer to keep a classic a classic and go all the way with the era. The music, the fashion ALL belong in the twenties. That’s my opinion. If you want to see or hear modern tales and music, there are many films out there to satisfy. Don’t change a classic. That’s why it’s a classic. I give two and half binoculars for the second half of this film. Gatsby, for me, was good, but not great.

(OG) I liked it, obviously a little more than Barbara. If you are looking for a carbon copy of the novel, brought to life on the screen, then don’t see this film. There have been some changes, and if your gauge-needle is going to be stuck on how this film compares to the book, then you might be disappointed, if your view of the book is limited. There has been some speculation that the film is series of annoying contrasts that were not apparent in the original story: Gatsby is the only character that is real, or the rich and the poor are stereotypes, or that the dialogue is not realistic for anyone except Gatsby, or that the music is an annoying blend of modern and period pieces. I say: That’s what the book was all about. Luhrmann, I believe captured the essence of the original Fitzgerald novel while bringing in just enough new elements to reach perhaps a new and “harder to reach” audience. He even found a way to bring some of the original writing directly to the screen. The truth is, the roaring twenties and today are not that much different from one another. Jazz, I once heard, is a an original American music that allows everyone to do their own thing while working together for the common good...just like the American government.” Jazz allows each individual a moment in the spotlight to make the best of the moment. In everyone’s own way, we get to interpret our own story in a sense. Is that what today's music is trying to do? Regardless, that’s what this film is for me. That’s an important theme in the book and in this film. Ultimately, Gatsby created himself for the idealized love of a woman. It doesn’t matter what other’s think of the woman or the man himself. The character is unshaken throughout. I give this one three binoculars. The time went smoothly and quickly for me, and I am an English literature teacher, and a fan of the novel.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Eric Lee Message in a Bottle

This is just a portion of the full interview I just completed with Eric Lee. You can read the whole interview--some really thought provoking comments--at www.worldwidedojo.com in my Legends and Legacies column.

MUD--The movie

MUD--Written and Directed by Jeff Nichols/Starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sam Shepard/with strong performances by Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson and Reese Witherspoon/2 hr 10 min/PG-13

Bifocal Review written by Ageless1der, Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(B) Shades of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  I really enjoyed this film. It got to the heart of young boys’ adventures, first loves and the onset of puberty. Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland gave stunning performances as the young boys. Matthew McConaughey felt very comfortable in the role of a river fugitive who befriends the boys. The panoramic views of the muddy Mississippi were gorgeous. Seeing the riverboats on the Mississippi made me long for the simple, unencumbered river life. I was particularly moved by the sub-story of two boys’ hunger for knowledge and their relentless pursuit of action, based upon the gauge of “it’s the right thing to do.” Sometimes responding from this gut feeling led to getting a black eye. Sometimes the other guy got the black eye. Yet, this pursuit was powerful and nonchalant in the lives of these boys.  This film was marvelous in its simplicity and the supporting roles were also cast (and performed) very well. I don’t want to overrate a film at the start of the movie-going year, so I give this film 3 ¼ binoculars.

(OG)  The comparison to Huckleberry Finn was probably very intentional, but even if it weren’t I couldn’t help but make the link from the very beginning of this film. Like the Huck saga, this was a very simple story with a lot of layers. In fact, beyond the suspense and intrigue was a romance, echoed by another romance, echoed by third and fourth. For me, the character studies, and the thematic dissections that orbited around a non-judgmental look at the power of love (at all familial and non-familial levels) made the layering much more interesting. I also appreciated that when it came to driving the plot and sub-plots, good storytelling was the catalyst. From the salvaging of a boat, stuck in the trees, to a history of snake bites, the viewer was given clues all along the way, like breadcrumbs or footprints on the beach, that lead to a satisfactory and non-contrived resolution of all the layers. I also loved this perfectly cast, perfectly acted, story driven gem. I give it a four.