Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Movies: 'The Great Gatsby', 'An Education'

If you haven't seen the trailer already, here it is - it looks pretty amazing.  And the soundtrack - what in the actual fuck.  It's beautiful.  Jay-Z making jazz is like finding out Blue Ivy actually exists.  Okay.  Not really.
Because jazz is music and Blue Ivy is a baby.  And honestly, I don't even care about Blue Ivy.  Perhaps I'd care more about the fact that a couple named their baby Blue Ivy.
She's blue - so she's a melancholy soul.
She's ivy - so she's a woody evergreen Eurasian climbing plant.
So now she's going to grow up and have kids randomly yell out "Melancholy woody evergreen Eurasian climbing plant! LEL!" during class.

Who wouldn't?  Once in a lifetime opportunity to call someone a melancholy woody evergreen Eurasian climbing plant.

Get your shit together news.com.au.

Now I haven't heard very good things about The Great Gatsby.  While it boasts pretty splendiferous visuals and has a cool soundtrack, Bakker says:

Not surprisingly, The Great Gatsby is exceedingly grand (Catherine Martin’s production design and costumes are, as always, spectacular), but there’s something slightly shallow about the whole affair. The sets, particularly Gatsby’s colossal mansion, come off as something from a Disney film, while others appear as if they’ve been stolen from Gone With The Wind. 

There’s a heart and soul that is missing from Gatsby. Where Romeo + Juliet inspired for its innovation and grittiness, and Moulin Rouge for its heart, it’s difficult to connect solidly to any of the characters here.
As the mysterious Gatsby, Leonardo DiCaprio is charming enough, but he’s surprisingly one-dimensional, not really delving into the desperate yearning he has for true social acceptance, and the obsessive love that so grips Gatsby for Daisy. At times, DiCaprio even appears a little unsure, as if taking on such an iconic American character is a little much, and he’d rather be back in a Martin Scorsese mob flick with baggy clothes and a bad haircut. 

British actress Carey Mulligan just doesn’t have the charisma that she showed in her breakout role in An Education to make you believe that a man such as Gatsby would crawl over broken glass for her, and she almost becomes something of a background player.

Um, WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT CAREY???!!! *waves fist*

This review disappoints me.  Not because it was a badly written review (perhaps it was), but because two actors I really like just got dissed.

And I can't believe Carey Mulligan lacked charisma - lacked charisma!! - in Gatsby.  This girl was awesome in An Education and her brilliant performance was the main thing that made that movie as good as it was.

An Education, which is one of my all time favourite movies, conveys a message that really strikes a chord with me on a personal level.

Set in the swinging 60s, it's about Jenny, a highly intelligent school girl who suddenly finds herself swept into the arms of a wealthy, sophisticated, glib-tongued playboy, David - who is twice her age.  Soon, she neglects whatever wishes she had for attending Oxford and instead, parties at jazz clubs and jets off to Paris with the mystery man.  All goes splendidly, until the mystery behind the man is finally revealed...

There are two things I really loved about the movie.

First, apart from the age gap, being swept into a whirlwind adventure of love and lust by an utterly charming stranger - and dancing in the streets of Paris, visiting little book shops on the corner, discovering hidden coffee shops and being given lots of expensive gifts - isn't that every girl/woman's (subconscious) fantasy?  This movie was appealing because it gave women the chance to see how this fantasy would play out.  It's fun, exciting, and most of all - intriguing in an almost suspenseful way - because David's background is always shrouded in dark secrecy.  The fact that he's much older and Jenny is a schoolgirl makes things a bit naughtier too.  I like it naughty hurhur.  And yes, some women really dig that sense of not knowing what they're getting into, especially with an older man who can take you into a whole new world of riches.

I, personally, prefer getting chased around sprinklers in the city by my leading man during the night time, in slow motion, with lots of close ups and rapid 360 degree shots.
So. Romantic.

Secondly, Mulligan plays a very young and existentially naive school girl, yet still managed to channel a sense of (false) maturity into her character with the way she confidently manoeuvred herself among the adult crowd, charming everyone with her refined manners, knowledge of the arts and cultural sophistication (dat penchant for jazz and French cigarettes).   Deep down, she was still a child.

I really enjoyed that dichotomy - because it showed that a girl can act like a woman, but not yet be one.  It also showed that an educated mind does not necessarily mean a mature one - you can be book smart but you can be life dumb.  Yeah.

The notion of 'true love', which has been overly perpetuated in chick flicks as the one thing you can sacrifice everything else for, is not as beautiful and simple as it first seems - and it can turn ugly very quickly.


In the end, Jenny gets burned and her dream of going to Oxford is shattered.  When David leaves her, her life cruelly falls apart.  This was the watershed moment for me.  Throughout the entire movie, it seemed that David and Jenny truly fell for each other - their personalities matched and they shared all the same passions and interests.  They were perfect.  And yet, his shady past could not make up for their love.  And though Jenny, who was already his fiancée, had given David another chance to explain himself - despite EVERYTHING he had hidden from her, he left her because he could not face up to the shame and embarrassment.

He loses.  She loses everything.  No one wins.

This is until she begs her teacher (cos the school rejected her) to teach her again and repeats a year of schooling, aces her exams and...
Gets into Oxford.  Like a boss.

So yes, in a corny way, she neglected one education for another - a life lesson.

That's why I loved this movie.  There was no sugar-coated lovey-dovey happy ending.  There was no "I SACRIFICED EVERYTHING TO BE WITH HIM" sort of shit.

Honestly, as a student, screwing up my education (which is usually the pathway to success) is probably my biggest fear.  Ever.

So this movie had a pretty deep meaning to me.  It was realist.  It doesn't tell you to not love; it tells you to be careful about what decisions you make - to empower yourself and be independent.  To value your opportunities to further yourself.

I don't care what bitchez say about this movie being uber conservative or whatever.  I don't even think it is.  Idek.

The movie also has some lol moments.  Which is... gr8.

4 stars for An Education.

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