Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Great Gatsby Movie Remake

After much anticipation, the first trailer for The Great Gatsby movie remake has been released.  

This version of F. Scott Fizgerald's classic 1925 novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson, and Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, who previously directed  Australia, Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet, among others, filming began on September 5, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. The film is set to be released in Real D 3D and 2D cinemas on December 25, 2012 by Warner Bros. Pictures.

While watching the trailer, I was immediately impressed by the lavish sets and gorgeous, lush, and period-specific costumes.  It embodies the 1920s, and appears to do justice to this most glamourous of novels.

As for the 1920's fashion depicted in this version - the flapper dresses, fur wraps, cloche hats, blinged-out hair jewelry - all looked authentic to my untrained eyes, but then I read an interview with Jacqueline WayneGuite, a fashion historian, who thinks the costumes are too stylized and modern, as she writes in a post on her excellent blog The Hourglass Files:

"To be clear, I can tell from the trailer that these costumes are not period accurate. They all look like contemporary fashion interpreting 1920s Halloween costumes. The hair and makeup look like they’re from the present day. The architecture and interior design look much too contemporary to even pretend to be from the 20s. The colors are a bit too bright and the sparkle is a bit too computer generated."

I think the casting of this film is right on.  Leonardo DiCaprio is a smart choice for Jay Gatsby.  From what I can see in the trailer, DiCaprio brings that gut-wrenching conviction that he displayed when he worked with Luhrmann previously in Romeo + Juliet, and indeed all of his roles.   Having said that, I'm a little biased when it comes to this character - I LOVE Robert Redford (who played Gatsby in the 1974 version).  I could put him in a room and stare at him for hours!  I think he's the most gorgeous man ever created!  But Leo's a fine choice, and has the acting chops to fill "Bob's" shoes (wish we were on a first-name basis!)

The same goes for Daisy - I loved Mia Farrow in the 1974 movie (again, I LOVE Mia Farrow; I follow her humanitarian efforts on Twitter), but I think Carey Mulligan is the perfect choice for the effervescent, however shallow, Daisy in the remake.  As for the part of Nick, "everyman" Toby Maguire seems a good choice as well.

Luhrmann expressed his wishes to honour the classic novel at all costs. "Fitzgerald's story defies time and geography," he said. "The vision and the goal of our remarkable cast and creatives is to do justice to the deftness of Fitzgerald's telling, and illuminate its big ideas and humanity. This is our challenge and our adventure."

(Incidentally, the American alternative comedian, Andy Kaufman, liked to torment his audiences with the promise of reading out The Great Gatsby, word for word, when they were expecting a stand-up routine – one such occasion is recreated in the excellent Kaufman biopic, Man in the Moon.)

What do you think about a remake of The Great Gatsby?  

Who do you feel about it, after watching the trailer?

Will you go to the theatre to see it?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Let The Game Begin - A Game of Thrones

I just finished reading, "A Game of Thrones," and I LOVED it!

A high fantasy series written by George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones is the first book in the "A Song of Fire and Ice" series.  It was first published in 1996 and reached the New York Times Best Seller List in 2011.

The basic plot is a hand full of fantastic characters scrambling to land at the top of the heap, which, in this case, is the "Iron Throne," and rule the Seven Kingdoms in a fictional dark ages-type land called, Westeros.

There are three basic settings:
  1. Winterfell, in the far North, ruled by the House Stark.
  2. The Wall, an ancient 700 foot high, 300 mile long wall of ice and stone, shielding the Seven Kingdoms from the North.  The Wall is manned by the order of the Night's Watch.
  3. King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, ruled by King Robert Baratheon.  
However, it's the characters that have so impressed me (and of course, Mr. Martin's engaging writing style):
Here's a list of main characters:
  1. Eddard "Ned" Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.
  2. Catelyn Stark, Lady of Winterfell, wife of Lord Eddard Stark.
  3. Robert Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
  4. Cersei Baratheon, beautiful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, wife of King Robert Baratheon.
  5. Ser Jaime Lannister, charming member of the Kingsguard, and twin brother of Queen Cerseil.
  6. Tyrion Lannister (The Imp) - Younger brother of Queen Cersei and Jaime Lannister, and a dwarf.
  7. Viserys Targaryen, exiled Prince and heir of the Targaryen dynasty.
  8. Daenerys Targaryen, exiled Princess of the Targaryen dynasty (sister of Viserys).
  9. Khal Drogo, warlord of the Dothraki people.
  10. Jon Snow, hunky bastard son of Ned Stark, and member of the Night's Watch.
  11. Robb Stark, eldest son of Ned and Catelyn Stark, and heir to Winterfell.
  12. Sansa Stark, lady-like first daughter and second child of Ned and Catelyn Stark, and future bride of Prince Joffrey.
  13. Joffrey Baratheon, eldest son of King Robert and Queen Cersei, and heir to the Iron Throne.
  14. Arya Stark - younger tom-boy daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark.
These are but a few of the amazing characters in A Game of Thrones.  The truly original part is how the plot unfolds; each chapter is revealed from a different character's eyes, thus telling the story from from several viewpoints.  As a result, we get to know these complex and multifaceted characters much more intimately than usual.

I highly recommend A Game of Thrones.  If you loved Lord of the Rings, you will love the user-friendly Tolkienqesque prose.

If you have already read, A Game of Thrones, which character resonated with you? (My fav character is Tyrion!)

If you haven't read, A Game of Thrones, do you plan to do so?

Are you watching the series on HBO?  What do you think of the interpretation?