Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, who turns 72 today
Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, who turns 72 today
Ladies and Gentlemen, here he is. The man you came to see…
Star Trek has always been a little goofy. The men and women running around in brightly colored shirts in a 1960’s ideal of the future were always one misstep away from falling into self parody or being engulfed in campiness. However, even when that classic TV show fell into those traps, it was still Trek. It still held those ideals of a more perfect future. Perhaps more than any other science fiction tale, every iteration of Star Trek demonstrates the most optimistic vision of the future.
In 2009, I was properly acquainted with Star Trek when I saw JJ Abrams’ film. Without a doubt that was the finest science fiction film of the 2000’s. It opened my mind up to the world of Kirk, Spock, the Enterprise and every one of Gene Roddenberry’s creations.
Needless to say, I have been excited about Star Trek Into Darkness since I stood up and applauded Abrams’ film 4 years ago. With those feelings of excitement of course, come ones of skepticism, doubt and a desire for this film to be even better than its predecessor.
I’m so relieved to say that this sequel equals and surpasses the first film in nearly every way. While the 2009 film was an origin story with a weak villain, Into Darkness improves upon the things’s the first film got right, and boldly goes where every Trek fan needed it to go.
The stakes are higher, the villain is eviler and the fantastic cast is even better than before. While Star Trek introduced us to the characters and called back to the classic Roddenberry series, Into Darkness allows these actors to wholly make these characters their own while putting them in the middle of a story that would’ve fit perfectly in the Original Series.
Abrams never misses a beat. Mixing action, humor, and fun with downright terror and fear, Star Trek Into Darkness is perfect blockbuster filmmaking. No one is better than Abrams. If Star Trek was the film that first made me a fan of the franchise, Into Darkness has successfully turned me into a full on Trekkie.
Live Long and Prosper.
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Excess. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s definitive American novel is a cautionary tale against the perils of such a great sin. The excess of money, alcohol and parties that fill the pages of the book come together to create a story that has been so memorable and important for nearly ninety years. Now, in 2013, Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsbyis more excessive than all of Jay Gatsby’s parties combined.
Walking out of the theater, I didn’t feel anything but frustration. Parts of this adaptation are masterful and in many ways, this is the best way to experience Fitzgerald’s story without reading the book. However, the director’s style and choices in music are too chaotic and self serving to allow this film to be considered truly great.
For the first hour or so, the film goes in a dizzying manner that is, frankly, exhausting. Many of the novel’s early scenes suffer from this and much of what makes those first few chapters so memorable is lost in the transition to the screen. With the appearance of Gatsby and his reconnecting with Daisy Buchanan however, the film finally gets on the right track.
Most of my trepidation in approaching this film was due to the soundtrack. I like Jay-Z and most of the artists who are featured on the soundtrack, but I simply was not confident in the ability of those songs to play with this film. And really, the result is hit or miss. Lana Del Rey’s ‘Young and Beautiful’ serves as a theme for Gatsby and Daisy and it works perfectly (especially a Jazzier version that plays during one of those famous parties). Surprisingly, some of the Watch the Throne tracks suit the film, as does Jack White’s beautiful cover of U2’s ‘Love is Blindness’. However, there are many songs that are really jarring to hear accompanying this story, including a dubstep infused Fergie song and Jay-Z’s ‘Izzo (HOVA)’. But of course, I’m sure many people will love these choices.
Of course, out of a wholly wonderful cast, the greatest thing this film has going for it is Leonardo DiCaprio. When he was first cast, I had my doubts. But now I can’t imagine Jay Gatsby any other way. He is far and away the greatest Gatsby to ever grace the silver screen and he has further proved his status as one of the greatest actors of his generation.
Although frustratingly excessive, The Great Gatsby is just sentimental enough to remind the viewer of the Fitzgerald mystique. Luhrmann demonstrates a great understanding of the source material and despite his stylistic shortcomings, he manages to faithfully adapt my favorite book to the screen. Although it certainly has its faults, the film occasionally manages to reach the great heights that it clearly aspires to and offers a truly beautiful glimpse into the world of East and West Egg.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
The Next Day - David Bowie
On the surface, Frances Ha seems like the typical indie fare. A beautiful and quirky girl trying to find her way in the big city gets sad and dances to David Bowie to make everything alright. These things do happen, but with Frances, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig have created something more than just a summertime indie heroine.
Much to the chagrin of the director, in the wake of Lena Dunham’s Girls, this film has drawn a great number of comparisons to the famed HBO show. In truth, Frances Ha is a much different animal than Girls (which I love, for the record). In truth, Baumbach’s film has more in common the early works of Woody Allen and French New Wave.
With a brilliant performance from Gerwig and a phenomenal supporting cast, Frances Ha manages to feel fresh and smart, even when the script starts waver at the start of the final act. The film is honest and touching when it needs to be, but that depth of feeling is perfectly balanced with belly-aching humor and fun.
It’s not perfect but hopefully but this glorious black and white film is the perfect summer indie that is sure to inspire many more collaborations between its two brilliant writers.
FRANCES HA (2013)