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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Great Gatsby: 2013

   I love F Scott Fitzgerald. I love his diction and eloquent ability to string together a time and place. The Great Gatsby, arguably his most famous novel is certainly a true testament to the literary footprint he imposes on American Literature to this day. It’s a good book, so naturally a considerable amount of time and effort would need to go into the film adaptation. …And so, in 2013 Baz Lurmahnn would take the place of so many directors before him and attempt to tell the story of a man named Jay Gatsby.

   I do not like Baz Lurmahnn or his movies. In my opinion they are far too loud, fast, and obnoxious for me to get any enjoyment out of watching. And, sadly, I can’t say anything too differently in terms of The Great Gatsby, his latest film. The frustrating part about it being this adaptation specifically is that both Lurmahnn and Fitzgerald have definitive styles to their writing, and when they are chosen to “work together” so to speak, the final product is…not entirely thought through. Sometimes it felt like certain scenes were directed by different people. Every so often an entire scene from the film would be pulled from the book verbatim, and that can be confusing when the very next scene is written like a Baz Lurmahnn film.

   Lurmahnn’s adaptation also suffers from the constant explanation of symbols in the story. Fitzgerald doesn’t need to completely explain his writing because he gives just enough insight into the possible explanation of symbols. At one point in the book a man is explaining to Nick Caraway, the main character, that all the books in Gatsby’s house were real books. Fitzgerald doesn’t fully explain it, but leaves the symbol of the scene open for understanding. However, Lurmahnn does not take as much time to stew in the proverbial pot of character or plot development. Ironically so, being that the film clocks in at two and a half hours.

   The Great Gatsby, when being compared to Fitzgerald’s work, falls short of engaging. The writing is all over the place, the style gives no time to admire the fleshed out and rather accurate backdrops of the locations, and when the end credits have finally appeared on the centerfold you are left wondering if Lurmahnn thinks you are too smart or too stupid to understand the film. And at the bottom line, that is the main problem. Even though the audience is waited on hand and foot by Lurmahnn, he is unable to present the main theme of Fitzgerald’s writing; that a man can reinvent himself. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

Enemy: 2013

I'm not sure what to think of Enemy, and while that's not the best line to begin a review with, I'll try my best to talk about it and form some kind of an opinion before this is over. Enemy is about Adam, an introverted college professor who spots his doppelganger acting in a film, and decides to track him down. That's as much of the movie I can spoil because I'm not really sure what happens after that. I mean, there's a loose plot revolving around Adams doppelganger, Anthony, pursuing Adam's girlfriend but besides that the film is pretty devoid of anything else. Well, mostly.

The overall film produces a very melancholy tone, mostly due to the muted color scheme and soundtrack. The soundtrack in particular stood out from the rest of the film, and while I'm not really in a place to judge music, I thought it fit very well with the escalation of tension throughout the film. The cinematography provides the audience with incredibly unsettling moments coupled with the violent sliding of the violin every now and then. There are some shots I can note that take advantage of the strange atmosphere and this works to the film's advantage.

However, I will say that I was at first hesitant to review Enemy, but only for one reason. Nothing, and I mean nothing out of the ordinary is explained or developed. I'm talking about the spiders. Now if you've seen the film you know what I mean by this, but if you have not had the time to view Enemy I'm not going to spoil anything else. I couldn't even if I wanted to. 

Enemy's major flaw is not the style, but rather the handling of the substance. When I walk out of a theater I don't want to leave empty handed. I want to leave with a sense of clarity, and this film has nothing resolved or clarified. However, I also want to leave with an open end. And Enemy is deliciously open-ended from beginning to the wonderfully stylized end credits that only add more mystery to its design. 

Enemy is very puzzling. Very, very puzzling. And I think that it is because of this that I am unable to properly analyze or confidently critique it as a film. But I suppose that part of a review is to capture ones experience, and I think I've done that. At least I hope that I have done that. Don't misinterpret me. This review is not a cautionary tale.  If anything, it is the complete opposite. I want everyone to watch this movie, because I haven't an absolute clue as to what it means. I don't know, what did you think about it?