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Review: The Great Gatsby, Bekas, Fast & Furious 6 and The Last Sentence

By Cinema and Reviews

The Great Gatsby still

For all the digit­al glit­ter and ana­chron­ist­ic hip-hoppery that sig­ni­fies our latest re-entry into Luhrman-land, The Great Gatsby itself takes fun­da­ment­al inspir­a­tion from a black and white clas­sic from 1941. Featuring a flash­back fram­ing device, a lonely and heart­sick tycoon star­ing out of the win­dow of a grot­esque castle, and even a breath­less deathbed “Daisy” uttered as if it summed up an entire life (like “Rosebud”), Gatsby is no less than Baz Luhrman’s Citizen Kane. Even his star, Leonardo DiCaprio is start­ing to resemble a Wellesian hero, at least in the jow­els if not the girth.

The Great Gatsby posterSo, no pres­sure, then, Baz – you’re only mer­ging the great American nov­el and the greatest movie of all time. Of course, he can’t pos­sibly suc­ceed on his own unima­gin­ably ambi­tious terms, but he falls a bit short on the basic “tell a story” level too – even if he man­ages to make some sequences sing.

Set in 1922 (and writ­ten by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, well before the Jazz Age came crash­ing down into the Great Depression), Gatsby is the story of one man’s rein­ven­tion out of the trauma of World War One and into the longest, biggest (and most illeg­al) party the world had ever seen.

[pullquote]Fast & Furious is vast and curious[/pullquote]DiCaprio’s Gatsby has built a busi­ness empire out of the drug stores and speak­easies of Manhattan and a Xanadu on the shores of Long Island, all the while gaz­ing long­ingly across the water at the house where Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) lives. Daisy is the last piece of his puzzle, she will make him whole and she will help him gain accept­ance into the high soci­ety that scorns his dubiously-earned new money. He may also genu­inely be in love with her, of course.

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Cinematica 4/08: Boats Against the Current

By Audio and Cinematica

Due to a com­bin­a­tion of the Queen’s Birthday hol­i­day, the annu­al life-swamp that is Rialto Channel 48HOURS, ill­ness and a trip to Auckland for ONFILM magazine, there was no writ­ten review this week. As you might have noticed. This will have to do for the time being and nor­mal ser­vice will be resumed on Monday.

Cinematica_iTunes_200_cropBaz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby; our ver­dict on Shopping; Bekas is about two cute kids from Kurdistan and Fast & Furious 6 is about a bunch of blue col­lar car nuts catch­ing a super-criminal on the world’s longest runway.

Review: A Good Day to Die Hard, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, This is 40 and Safe Haven

By Cinema and Reviews

A Good Day to Die Hard posterThe first thing you need to under­stand about A Good Day to Die Hard is that it isn’t really a Die Hard movie. In the same way that instant cof­fee and espresso cof­fee share a name but are in fact entirely dif­fer­ent bever­ages, you’d be wise to go to a Good Day screen­ing with mod­est expect­a­tions – expect­a­tions that would already have been lowered if you’d seen 2007’s dis­mal Die Hard 4.0 (aka Live Free and Die Hard).

Bruce Willis plays Detective John McClane for the fifth time since 1988 but this time there’s no smirk, no glint in his eye and none of the recog­nis­able human frailties that made the ori­gin­al char­ac­ter so appeal­ing. Instead, he’s just what every­body always said he was – an asshole. When his son is arres­ted by Moscow author­it­ies for what looks like a mob hit, McClane heads to Eastern Europe to try and save a boy he hardly knows. As usu­al, McClane becomes “the fly in the oint­ment, the mon­key in the wrench” and he imme­di­ately lands in the middle of a CIA oper­a­tion to extract a rebel olig­arch hid­ing inform­a­tion that could bring down the gov­ern­ment, his untimely inter­ven­tion des­troy­ing most of Moscow’s traffic in the process.

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Review: 17 Again, Fast & Furious, Ong-bak and Sniper

By Cinema and Reviews

I’ve been grumpy all week for all sorts of reas­ons and the last thing I needed was a week­end of crappy films but that’s what I got. I mean, I’m spend­ing longer writ­ing this review than the writers of Fast & Furious or 17 Again spent on their scripts – put togeth­er, probably.

17 Again posterThe improb­ably named Burr Steers is the dir­ect­or of 17 Again but that’s where the fun stops. Matthew Perry plays a 37-year-old former high school bas­ket­ball star who chose the love of his preg­nant girl­friend instead of a col­lege schol­ar­ship and dug him­self deep into a dowdy life of fail­ure and regret. A mys­ter­i­ous bearded jan­it­or, a bridge (a frankly insult­ing homage to It’s a Wonderful Life) and an unspe­cified magic­al event put him back in his buff 17-year-old body which he uses to re-engage with his chil­dren and get to know his wife again.

I’ve got some time for the tele­vi­sion ver­sion of Matthew Perry (did you see “Studio 60”?), and des­pite his tra­gic cinema career choices he remains a com­ic act­or who is unafraid of (or unable to sup­press) the sad­ness behind his eyes. Unfortunately, he dis­ap­pears after 15 minutes to be replaced by High School Musical ’s Zac Efron, a smug pretty-boy with some dance moves and no cha­risma and it is he who car­ries the film to its des­ol­ate conclusion.

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