Baz Luhrmann is back with a spectacular, kaleidoscope sensory bang The Great Gatsby. The memory of the pseudo mystical, everything but the kitchen sink misfire Australia is instantly wiped away as you’re plunged into decadent 1920s New York and the gleaming estates of Long Island.

Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) a writer and bond trader trying to make it on Wall Street guides the viewer on this journey. Nick’s wealthy cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her old money, unfaithful husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) introduce him to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. As is typical of Luhrmann, the first twenty minutes of the film is on overload and there is one especially frantic scene of drunken excess that could cause a brain seizure but thankfully the film settles down after that.

Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect as J. Gatsby the handsome, mysterious millionaire who further draws Nick into this world of free flowing liquor, beautiful women and sleepless nights when he invites Nick to one of his never-ending, lavish, over the top parties on his castle-like estate. The invitation, like the parties, is by design engineered to lure the object of Gatsby’s affections Daisy back to his side. Continue reading »

Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver and mechanic who also happens to be a getaway driver. The solitary Driver whose name we never learn is a loner with no friends or family except for his beaten down employer, Shannon (Bryan Cranston) who owns the garage where he works and is also the stunt coordinator who hires him to work in movies.

Driver is a man of few words preferring to let others do the talking while he reveals nothing. Gosling is magnetic as a man who possesses a calm demeanor on the surface but harbors a tightly coiled animal instinct to survive and an explosive propensity for violence when necessary.

Nicolas Winding Refn the director has a firm grasp of his material. There’s a consistent tone to the film from beginning to end. His is not the bright candy colored Los Angeles seen in so many other films. Instead, the Danish director perfectly captures the sprawling and alienating landscape of LA that often serves as a barrier between people.  The empty desolate streets at night and the strip mall restaurants and markets that give the city an eerie, disconnected feel. Continue reading »

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