The Great Gatsby

Warner Brothers

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, smoking, violent images, partying and brief profanity.

DiCaprio Handles Title Role In 3D Adaptation Of Literary Classic

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is an era-defining, literary masterpiece convincingly capturing the decadence, debauchery and self-destruction of privileged elites living in the lap of luxury at the height of the Roaring Twenties. Set out on Long Island over the course of a very eventful summer, the tragic tale of love and betrayal unfolds from the point-of-view of social-climber Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a nondescript bond salesman who fancies himself a celebrated writer someday.

At the point of departure, we find him renting a modest cottage sitting in the shadow of a sprawling waterfront mansion owned by Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a self-made man given to throwing extravagant parties for fellow members of high society. Despite having his pick of a glittery litter of gold-digging flappers, the mysterious millionaire remains obsessed with Daisy (Carey Mulligan), an attractive young woman he had dated as a soldier before leaving the country to fight in World War I.

While he was overseas, she met and married Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), an abusive adulterer from an old money family whose own mammoth estate is located on the other side of the bay. Nick comes to play a critical role in the proceedings once Gatsby learns that he just happens to be a distant cousin of Daisy’s.

Soon, the lovelorn tycoon prevails upon his new, next-door neighbor to serve as a go-between by inviting her over for what she doesn’t know is a secret rendezvous with an ex-boyfriend.Sparksfly afresh, and it’s not long before all the morally-corrupted central characters end up taking a ride aboard an ill-fated, emotional roller coaster.

Perhaps more pertinent than recounting further the familiar plotline of a novel we all remember from high school is addressing its reimagining as a visually captivating, ethereal fantasy by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!). The bodacious director not only shot the New York story in his native Australia, but infused the soundtrack with hip-hop tunes by the film’s executive producer, Jay-Z, and wife, Beyoncé.

Before you join the rush to indict the anachronistic inclusion of rap as blasphemous in a movie supposedly recreating the Jazz Age, consider the fact that historical costume dramas generally tend to tell us more about the period in which they were made than about the one in which they transpire. Why else would anyone see fit to mount a fifth version of Gatsby?

Reflecting the influences of both its producer and director, this riveting reinterpretation for the Hip-Hop Generation is apt to be best appreciated by fans of mind-numbing gangsta’ rap weaned on shallow videos featuring materialistic misogynists enjoying free-flowing champagne while surrounded by a bevy of gyrating beauties. Bravo to Baz for effectively lending his trademark lush and lurid touch to a cautionary classic chronicling the downside of the American Dream!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 143 minutes

 

 

Bidder 70

First Run Features

Unrated

Eco-Documentary Chronicles Trials And Tribulations Of Environmental Activist

The Bush administration’s announcement in 2008 of its intention to auction-off the mining rights to many square miles of virgin land located in national forests ignited waves of protests by environmental activists. But when picketing, petitioning and the lobbying of politicians failed, the government proceeded with its plan to grant oil and gas mega-corporations access to the pristine parcels.

Crashing the auction was Tim DeChristopher, a frustrated college student who had participated in the pro-nature preservation demonstrations. He impulsively joined in the bidding and by the end of the day had purchased the rights to 22,000 acres of real estate in theUtahwilderness for $1.7 million with the hope of somehow saving some soil from fracking.

Trouble is, he had neither funds nor the wherewithal to extract any minerals, which was a technical violation of federal law. And since the energy industry doesn’t cotton to tree-huggers interfering with their profit margins and inclination to “Drill, baby drill!” it prevailed upon the government to throw the book at Mr. DeChristopher.

By the time the dust settled several years later, the outspoken economics major was convicted and carted off to prison to serve a two-year sentence. While Tim’s trials and tribulations are the front story of Bidder 70, this eye-opening documentary co-directed by Beth and George Gage simultaneously issues an urgent call for non-violent civil disobedience on the part of citizens truly concerned about global warming and the unchecked consumption of non-renewable carbon.

A powerful, empathetic portrait of a selfless, planetary patriot willing to sacrifice his liberty for the sake of Mother Earth’s long-term prospects.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 73 minutes

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening May 17, 2013

 

Star Trek: Into Darkness (PG-13 for intense violence). 12th installment in the futuristic sci-fi franchise finds Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Starship Enterprise summoned back to Earth to confront a seemingly unstoppable evil force which has left the planet on the brink of extinction. Ensemble cast includes Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Simon Pegg as Scotty and Karl Urban as Bones.

 

Augustine (Unrated). Doctor-patient drama, set in the 19th century, examining the bedside manner of a leading neurologist (Vincent Lindon) treating a malingering teenager (Soko) left partially paralyzed after suffering a seizure. With Chiara Mastroianni, Olivier Rabourdin and Roxane Duran. (In French with subtitles)

 

Black Rock (R for sexual references, graphic nudity, grisly violence and pervasive profanity). Survival saga about the harrowing ordeal of three childhood friends (Kate Bosworth, Katie Aselton and Lake Bell) whose vacation on a remote island off the coast of Maine is rudely interrupted by the arrival of recently discharged army vets hunting for humans. With Jay Paulson, Will Bouvier, Anslem Richardson and Carl Aselton.

 

The English Teacher (Unrated). Julianne Moore handles the titular role as a spinster with a pair of Siamese cats whose life is disrupted by the return to town of a former student (Michael Angarano) after failing as a playwright in the Big Apple. With Greg Kinnear,Nathan Lane and Lily Collins.

 

Erased (R for violence). Cat-and-mouse thriller about a former CIA agent (Aaron Eckhart) who ends up on the run with his estranged daughter (Liana Liberato) after they are both marked for termination as part of a wide-ranging international conspiracy. With Olga Kurylenko, Kate Linder and Neil Napier.

 

Frances Ha (R for profanity and sexual references). Greta Gerwig stars as the title character in this New York City dramedy about a homeless, aspiring dancer dealing with diminished dreams and an estranged BFF (Mickey Sumner) who won’t speak to her anymore. Supporting cast includes Adam Driver, Michael Zegen and Patrick Heusinger.

 

Pieta (Unrated). Korean tale of redemption about a loan shark (Jeong-Jin Lee) forced to reconsider his line of work by a mysterious woman who claims to be his long-lost mother (Min-Soo Jo). With Ki-Hong Woo, Eunjin Kang and Jae-Ryong Cho. (In Korean with subtitles)

 

Stories We Tell (PG-13 for mature themes, smoking and brief profanity). Out of the closet documentary dissecting a dysfunctional family’s skeletons by interrogating each member of the clan in order to get to the truth.

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