The Great Gatsby

Mom Under Cover checks in with this new review.  (Spoilers, for those few who don’t know how Gatsby ends.)

The Great Gatsby – B

Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby is not great, but it is worth seeing.  Fitzgerald’s prose is much of the novel’s allure which may be why Hollywood has not found a way to make a movie as memorable as the book.  Leonardo DiCaprio makes a believable Gatsby; his performance is one of the film’s highlights.  Carey Mulligan (Daisy Buchanan) shows promise in her first scene but quickly becomes blasé.  Mulligan looks the part, but her Daisy is way too boring to warrant Gatsby’s adoration.  Joel Edgerton plays a very good Tom Buchanan–cad that he is.  Most disappointing was this film’s Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire).  The movie opens with Carraway in a psychiatric treatment center recounting the events leading to Gatsby’s death.  I found this plot device to be really corny.  Maguire’s Carraway was so emotionless it is inconceivable that he was bothered enough by the tragedy to warrant counseling much less in-patient treatment.  Viewers who have not read the book will assume that Carraway was a main character rather than the narrator.  Perhaps it was the direction, but Maguire’s character was intrusive (that voice drove me crazy by the end of the movie) and flat.  Luhrmann fans will not be disappointed by the Baz-matazz, over the top visuals and music choices.

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Django Unchained

The Bleacher Bum says it’s a hit.

Django Unchained

Epic movies provide us with sights and sounds that are unshakeable. These sights and sounds pop into our minds when we are on an elevator or waiting at a red light, even if the movie was not in our consciousness at the time. Django Unchained is one of those movies.  Quentin Tarantino’s latest film deals with the heaviest of all subject matters: slavery in the United States pre-Civil War.  Jamie Foxx stars as Django, who is a recently freed slave. Django helps a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) look for three fugitives from justice. Their travels lead them all over the south, including to a notorious plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).   While Tarantino made the movie into a western in a nod to the spaghetti westerns, he does not take a lighthearted approach to its subject matter.  This movie is not for the faint of heart because of its violence, subject matter, language, and images.  Foxx, Waltz, DiCaprio, and several other stars are all exceptional. However, the true star of the movie is Tarantino.  As the film’s director, he took things to another level and provided us with images and sounds that we will never forget. GRADE: A.

Inception

New review from The Movie Snob

Inception (B). It is a tribute to the director of this sci-fi/action movie that it doesn’t feel nearly as long at its 148-minute run time would suggest. Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island) plays a fugitive criminal named Cobb whose specialty is stealing corporate secrets by invading the dreams of those in possession of those secrets. He gets hired for a job that’s a twist on the standard operation: a corporate bigwig wants him to invade the dreams of another corporate bigwig and plant an idea so subtly that he’ll think it’s his own. Cobb assembles his team, and they go to work. Matters are complicated because Cobb’s dead wife is so entrenched in his own subconscious that she has a way of turning up in the middle of delicate operations. There are lots of crazy special effects, including the one I think they showed in the trailers in which the city of Paris folds up and onto itself. I’m not very good at following movies like this, where you’re never sure what’s real and what’s not, but I just went along for the ride & enjoyed it just fine.

Hubble 3D

New review from The Movie Snob

Hubble 3D (B+). This IMAX feature almost got away from me — it’s playing at only a couple of theaters in the Dallas area, and I never even saw a Dallas Morning News review for the thing. So I made my first trip to the Mesquite Studio 30 megaplex and saw the 9:45 a.m. showing. I was the only one in the theater, so I had the best seat in the house. Anyway, it was pretty good, and there were some pretty spectacular 3D shots of distant galaxies and stuff. But the focus was pretty much on the Hubble Telescope itself, and one particular mission of astronauts to repair and upgrade the Hubble. That stuff was interesting, but I would’ve preferred more shots taken by the Hubble itself. And how about some shots of our own solar system? That would’ve been nice. Still, good stuff.  Narration by Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic).

Inception

Movie Man Mike is the first member of The Movie Court to see

Inception (A). Loved it! I don’t know who dreamed up the story idea for this movie about dreams, but it made for a fascinating experience. The dream-within-a-dream concept gave the writers a lot of liberties to show multiple timelines and storylines with some bizarre events that could only happen in dreams. The story format opens up opportunities for the viewer to question what may or may not be reality versus dream. The special effects were great. There are some nice action scenes created by the subconscious minds of the dreamer when the subconscious realizes that there may be some foreign element invading their dream space. And the actors are really good. Main characters Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are very good in their roles as dream invaders. If I had to find flaws in this film, it would be two things: They don’t really go into a lot of depth to explain this whole shared dream technology other than to say that it was devised by the military—as if that explains it. Second, Ellen Page, as Ariadne, is a little too quick to grasp the concept of dream invasion and she is a bit young and green to be advising Cobb (DiCaprio) about his psychoses. This is a criticism of the character, not the acting, which was otherwise good.

One thing that may have been a bit of a private joke on the part of the producers was the choice of music that the characters used to signal to the dreamers that time was running out in the dream. They used the music of Edith Piaf. Marion Cotillard played Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, but she also appears in this film as the deceased wife of Cobb. I can’t help but to think this was not a coincidence.

By all means, go see this film and don’t wait for the rental, as it’s probably better viewing on the big screen.

Shutter Island

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Shutter Island (B-). I’m generally not one much for twisty psychological thrillers, but what the heck — it’s Easter! Martin Scorsese again directs Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator), who plays federal marshal Teddy Daniels. When the film opens (in 1954), Teddy and his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo, You Can Count on Me) are on their way out to Shutter Island, a creepy asylum for the criminally insane run by Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley, Species). It seems a female prisoner (Emily Mortimer, Match Point) has disappeared into thin air, and everyone on the island seems to be covering up some big secret. Teddy has a lot of baggage himself (the murder of his wife and his participation in the liberation of Dachau have taken their toll), and the place starts to get under his skin in a big way. The movie is more suspenseful but less scary than I had expected from the previews, which was a relief. Worth a look.

The Departed

DVD review from Nick at Nite

The Departed

Stunning. A masterpiece. This is the type of storytelling that justifies going to the movies. Warning. It has some violence. Some would say it is quite graphic. It is not too over the top, especially in comparison to other films from the genre and Mr. Scorsese, e.g., no baseball bat beatings and no dumping of bodies in random cornfields. Nicholson (Anger Management) is fantastic as an Irish mob boss, Damon (Interstellar) is superb as the Irish mob boss’ conflicted crooked cop, and DiCaprio makes me forgive him for Titanic in his portrayal of the undercover cop. The movie is stolen by Alec Baldwin (The Cooler), who as a the head of the state task force on organized crime is playing a part that he was born to play. Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter) has a small, but integral part. It is no surprise he was nominated for an Oscar. I am not going to discuss the plot. Don’t want to give away any of the movie. I will say that the movie doesn’t seem to me to romanticize the real life Irish mob boss that Nicholson’s character is based on. I heard someone say during a radio critique of the movie that the movie somehow made us empathize with this crook. It doesn’t. Incidentally, in real life the Irish mob boss in on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. I give it an “A.” Check it out.