the great gatsby experience.

The Great GatsbyFrannie and I booked our tickets to a special Gold Class preview screening of The Great Gatsby weeks ago, so it was pretty exciting when the day finally arrived. You could say we’ve been counting down since the Baz Luhrmann remake was first announced about two years ago, so we had to make it something special. With some careful orchestrating, we were both able to leave work at 5pm on the dot and made it to the cinema in time for a glass of champagne and some festivities before the show started.champagneThe Gold Class screening we attended was part of Event Cinemas Chicks at the Flicks evenings. It’s a fantastic girls night out for movie lovers and really makes an occasion of heading to the cinemas. Especially for a movie you’ve been anticipating so excitedly –  it fit perfectly with our plans. We’re not really organised activity enthusiasts, but it was great to see people dressed in 20s inspired clothes and for local businesses to promote themselves. They set up stalls and had samplers in the gift bags that were left on our seats. There was a photobooth, manicure stand and even a place to get your hair done and each different event is tailored to suit the genre/theme of the movie being screened.

carey mulligan in prada gatsbyBut more importantly, the film.

Gatsby was by no means perfect, but I’m a little frustrated with some of the first reviews so this is my rebuttal. The classic American novel on which the film is based revels in its subtlety and imagery, and subtle is the last word you would use to describe Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation. But the story has been adapted a number of times before, so this film had to offer something different. I thought it achieved, and even excelled at that.

The modern, urban soundtrack was genius – it provided juxtaposition so sharp that the tracks by Florence + the Machine, Jay Z and Lana Del Ray actually seemed perfectly placed. The whole film was a visual spectacle so beautiful it really deserves to be seen on a big screen. Prada costumes, Tiffany’s jewellery, New York City – what is not to love? The party scenes were mesmerizing and I thought they perfectly captured the opulence and frivolity of the time. Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki was incredible as Jordan Baker and got comparatively more screen time than I thought the character was given in the novel.

But as I said, the film was not perfect, and some of the things that annoyed me at the start grew quite grating after more than two hours. Firstly, subtlety may have gone out the window, but the overuse of integral motifs such as the green light and Dr TJ Eckleburg’s watching eyes were shoved so far down our throats it became almost unbearable. One of the things I hate most about cinema-going is when the director thinks the audience is not smart enough to figure something out themselves, so they repeatedly allude to it, to the point of exhaustion. Oh and if Leo said ”old sport” one more time I might have thrown something at the screen.

I was also suspicious of what actually happened to Isla Fisher. Was she terrible in the role of Myrtle? Because her part was cut down to about two minutes screen time and it was such a waste. I love the character in the book – she is this tragic, desperate, lonely, selfish soul and her death is a pivotal plot point. In the film, I didn’t even care. We needed to connect to her before we could care about losing her.

Overall it was a fabulous spectacle and Luhrmann really gave it everything he had. Who are we to expect any more than that?

Carey Mulligan headpiece GatsbyPrada designs GatsbyThoughts from Frannie.

When Daisy tells Gatsby his lifestyle was dreamed to existence from his “perfect, irresistible imagination”, my immediate thought was of Baz Luhrmann. What an enviable and vivid imagination that man has. While it has its critics, I believe that Luhrmann has created a film that both honors and reinvigorates the story of the classic novel on which it is based. Certain subtleties that lie behind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original words may not have been presented in exactly the way that I interpreted them but that is always the danger in a remake or book to movie project and in my opinion is not a failing of this film.

Surrounded by a dream team of actors (Leonardo DiCaprio is perfection as Gatsby), Luhrmann has been able to bring to life the romance, colours and music of the surreal 1920s world of his mind’s eye. The costumes are incredible and the soundtrack of modern and sharp music is a triumph in its own right. Luhrmann often incorporates elements that contemporise his films adding relevance for younger audiences and in this case (also in Romeo + Juliet) sparking their interest in classic literature.

The story is a heartbreaking, hopeful yet hopeless one. The central characters are flawed, vulnerable, selfish and frustrating, hiding behind the airs and graces of social acceptance and demonstrating the struggle for balance between rich and poor, right and wrong. I don’t even particularly like Tobey Maguire as an actor but he did an incredible job as Nick Carraway, the narrator of this tragic tale of obsession. Luhrmann’s unmistakable style of direction is unapologetically bold and I guess you are either a fan or you aren’t. I’m a huge fan of his and now I’m a huge fan of this movie.

Advertisements

the evil dead remake made my life.

evildeadposter

On Sunday night I finally, FINALLY had the chance to see the new Evil Dead. Any doubts I had upon first hearing one of my favorite films was being remade vanished as soon as I knew it was more of a gory ‘reimagining’ than a straight remake. No-one can do The Evil Dead like Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, but filmmakers are more than welcome to pay homage to them in a fresh and surprising way – which is exactly what Fede Alvarez has done with this version.

I didn’t read much before I saw it because horror films don’t tend to fare too well in review-land, and the one article I did read couldn’t even get Bruce Campbell’s name right so I figured most critics either wouldn’t get it or wouldn’t like it. The R rating meant we were ID checked about four times before we finally got into the cinema, but it also meant the movie was next-level shocking from start to finish. Amazing.

The premise is a little different to the original – this time the five friends are at a cabin in the woods to help their friend Mia through substance abuse withdrawals. When she begins acting panicked and a little crazy, they don’t seem to take it that seriously. The rest of the plot is much the same – they find the demon book, recite a passage and all hell breaks loose. The junkie element lends itself to some pretty crazy stuff being excused as simply the come down from drugs, rather than demons causing havoc.

I don’t want to spoil anything for people who might be planning to see it, but let’s just say the film is an assault on the senses in the best possible way. An absolute must-see for horror fans. There are so many genuine scares, mixed with some gruesome new shocks I had never seen done before. The special effects are pretty close to perfection and the score raises the terror to fever pitch. The final 20 minutes is an experience like no other I’ve had at the cinema before. It’s fright after shock after gore after laugh and you come away feeling like you’ve been through something. Something exhausting, but wonderful.

monsters at GoMa.

wolfman1941

There are few things I love more than a classic horror film, so the film festival Monsters currently on at GoMA is right up my dark, scary alley. It started last month, but is on until the start of June so there is still plenty of time to take in one of the dozens of screenings. They are showing everything from 1930s films like Frankenstein and The Mummy, right through to recent films like Cabin In The Woods. If I was looking to take someone on a date, I would totally take them to GoMA for a horror flick. Such a beautiful setting.

Wolf-Man GwenI saw The Wolf Man (1941) on Saturday afternoon and it was so much fun. I started getting a migraine mid-way but it didn’t ruin the experience (just my night). I love the extreme use of shadows and light vs dark in old films like this, when special effects were pretty much non-existent. The story was just as spooky and appealing as I’m sure it was when the film came out and I was so enthralled with the costumes and sets. The leading lady Gwen was impeccably dressed throughout.

Frannie and I are hoping to take in Gremlins on Friday night, it’s so exciting to be able to see these film classics and childhood favourites on the big screen.

classic christmas eve viewing.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Mrs Claus is getting Santa’s red suit ready, the elves are packing the presents and the reindeer are resting up for the long trip ahead. Of course, we all know the drill, Santa won’t be shimmying down any chimneys if the residents of said house are still awake. This is something I have struggled with for all 24 Christmases of my lifetime. How can I possibly fall asleep on a ridiculously hot Summer night with all the excitement in the air?

The best way I have found to induce Christmas Eve sleepiness at bedtime is to settle in with a good Christmas themed movie until my eyelids start to get heavy.

pjs = on. movie = on.

Guessing that there’ll be time to sit through a couple of festive flicks in one night, here are four of my recommendations to give you a bit of choice…

Continue reading

The Perks of Being a Wallflower review.

Despite what a young girl said to me in an interview recently (did they even HAVE Schoolies when you finished school?) high school wasn’t actually that long ago for me and The Perks of Being A Wallflower brought it all rushing back. The intensity of the emotions, the finality of finishing and just caring so much about everything – music, exams, people, the future.. It was the antidote to the ‘teen movie’ formula and as refreshing as it was familiar.

Perks is based on the popular novel by Stephen Chbosky and it needs to be noted that this brilliant writer also penned the screenplay and directed the film – I respect so much his commitment to telling this story across multiple platforms and think more authors should follow his steps. It follows the freshman year of 16-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an introverted young writer struggling to come to terms with his best friend’s suicide and quite a troubled past.

He soon befriends step-siblings Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) – who give two honest and truly spectacular performances in the roles. What I absolutely loved was Miller’s subtlety in bringing so many elements of Patrick into this one perfect performance – yes he was a gay character, but being gay was not the ‘point’ of Patrick, it was just part of the subtext. It’s so easy for the ‘gay bff’ to become a bit of a caricature. There are also some fantastic supporting efforts, including Paul Rudd as the English teacher Mr Anderson and Johnny Simmons as Brad.

It hops, skips and jumps between poignant moments, from the lighthearted to the downright dark. It’s best to let this complex tale unravel before your eyes, but suffice to say Perks will make you laugh and cry, all while finding a way to tell a coming-of-age story that is new while still being so comfortable. 4.5/5 x

Argo review and the best cinema experience ever.

I love those times when everything just seems to go your way. That was the case for AK and I last night when we saw Argo at Event Cinemas Carindale. We decided pretty last-minute and bought Gold Class tickets online 30 minutes before the session started. We scored a perfect park despite late-night shopping and got to burn an arrogant staff member when he rudely told us we needed to line up at his counter. No buddy, we’re going to Gold Class!

We were the only people in the Gold Class lounge and were outnumbered by staff at least five to one. The girls at the counter were just learning how to use the register and we soon found out they hadn’t even been open 24 hours. For the inconvenience of no alcohol and L-plate staff, we were given half-price tickets (only $20!) and a $10 voucher each for food and drinks. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Staff were so lovely and accommodating, it really made our night. Once we ordered an obnoxious amount of food we made our way to our seats, which had never been used before – our butts were the first butts to ever sit there. And unlike the Chermside or Garden City seats, which are fabric-covered and have lots of suss-looking stains on them, these recliners were plush leather and so, so comfortable.

So now I’ve reviewed our awesome experience at the cinema, let’s move on to the film. At the base of this movie is an absolutely incredible true story about a covert operation to get six Americans out of Iran in 1979. The group escaped the US Embassy as militants stormed the building and took everyone else hostage. Knowing it was only a matter of time before the they were found out and executed, CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) dreamt up a risky plan to get them out. He pitched the idea of the six posing as part of a Canadian film crew location scouting for a sci-fi blockbuster ‘Argo’ and enlisted the help of special effects make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) on the ground in LA. I love that this included a launch party and an ad in Variety for a film that was completely fake. Genius.

It’s such an outrageous way to try and rescue these people and even more outrageous that it was true. While the hostage situation is a well-known news event, their story remained classified until 1997 and director Affleck did an amazing job digging it up and sharing it with the world. Of course it has been given the Hollywood once-over, complete with thrilling suspense and a pretty unbelievably close-call of an ending. Nonetheless the story really appealed to me and the film did a wonderful job telling it.

The juxtaposition of the magical land of Hollywood with the brutal regime in Iran was striking – not only visually, but in the sound, the dialogue and the camera work. The parts shot in LA were smooth, well produced and quite airy, while in Iran the camera was often handheld and shaky. Goodman and Arkin were absolute standouts and I felt we got to know their characters more than the six stuck in Iran, which probably shouldn’t have been the case. Affleck put himself in the hero role and although I find it a little narcissistic and cringy when actors do this (cough.. Tom Cruise.. cough), I still think he gave a strong performance. 4/5

listen carefully.

And if you tell me the same story twice, I won’t tell you I will be nice.
Of all the stories I have heard, yours are the best that I have learned…

The Little Stevies.

More than telling my own stories, I love hearing those of others and in particular, those of my Grandparents. Maybe it’s because I’m a wannabe-novelist always searching for new inspiration, maybe it’s because I’m a proud family girl or maybe it’s just because of the girl part and my desire to remember the stories attached to all the last names that may disappear along the way to starting my own little family. I am forever grateful that my love of stories led me to listen intently to the things my mum’s parents said from a young age.

When I was really young, I would roll my eyes when Pa demanded my attention for another of his stories. Then I realised that he’s hilarious and what an interesting and intelligent man he is. Soon I started to take note of the little stories my Nan would tell as well. She doesn’t chastise me and tell me that I should respect my elders and listen, she just gets this captivating twinkle in her eye and talks and I consider myself lucky that I get to listen. I’ve soaked in their history and hold close the advice they have imparted after years of living. I would have regretted reaching 24 and not knowing the things I know from them.

I now also cherish the occasional moments that my parents reminisce with me about growing up and the broken hearts they experienced or at times may have caused, how my Mum thought my Dad’s name was Mark when they first met and how my Dad never doubted that his children would grow to be anything but the best of friends because my loving mother would raise us that way. I am extremely proud to be their daughter. They aren’t perfect humans, no one is, but they really are perfect parents.

Two of my all-time favourite movies centre around storytelling. One shows a young girl learning about love and the consequences of our decisions from a group of older ladies who tell her the stories of their greatest or most memorable loves. The other is about a Father who tells the most magical stories of his youth, making him the life of every party. He is loved by all but completely misunderstood by his realist son who longs for his dad to come back down to Earth. They are How To Make An American Quilt (1995) and Big Fish (2003).

One of those movies that will make you laugh and cry, How To Make An American Quilt reminds us that you are never too old for love, that love is never simple but can be beautiful in its complexities and that you can never truly understand someone until you know their story and the events that have made them who they are. Anyone who loves a good story and is a romantic, should see this movie.

In previous posts, I have referenced both my love for Tim Burton (director) and the fact that I possess an Ewan-McGregor-as-Christian-in-Moulin-Rouge type belief in love. Combine Burton’s amazing storytelling abilities and McGregor in the lead role as the wide-eyed dreamer Ed Bloom and how could I not fall in love with Big Fish? I adore its quirkiness and Burton’s ability to make his audience believe in magic. My favourite scene is the story of the first time Bloom meets his character’s future wife Sandra Templeton. He is working at the circus and she is a patron that he spies from across the room. He says…

They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. – Ed Bloom.

The commotion of the chaotic circus suddenly stops and time freezes, with Ed Bloom the only thing moving across the room towards Sandra. Now of course this is an exaggerated story, something that Bloom’s son Will finds hard to handle. However, true or not, I would love the story of the first time my life’s great love saw me to be told so poetically. My recommendation is to see every Burton film that has ever been made. However, if you aren’t that way inclined but do enjoy an excellent, mythical tale of adventure, then make sure you see Big Fish.

Happy Birthday to my mother today as well! I love you Mum. I think one of the first stories I’ll tell my kids is that their Nan, born on Halloween, is actually a witch! I wonder if they’ll humour me or say ‘get real Mum!’…

A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal. – Big Fish.