Film Reviews

Shakespeare at 450: His Top Ten Adaptations on Film

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William Shakepeare turns 450 this year.

Like his transcending work, he will always be remembered. We are constantly taught to, if not completely understand, then at least, appreciate his plays in school and we widely imagine Kenneth Branagh in any Shakepearean drama adapted on screen. But Branagh isn’t the only one to bring these plays to life and isn’t the only director/actor to try and put a new spin on these classic tales of life, love and in most cases murder. Here’s to remembering this great man whether it be on the page or on screen.

I raise a glass to you William. For even in death, you continue to change our lives, one word at a time.

Here is my own review of the film Shakespeare in Love (1998)

One Room With A View

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Shakespeare. It’s the most famous name in the English language, ringing proudly out across the British Isles. From his first works on stage around the 1590s to Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing in 2012, Shakespeare has been at the heart of literary culture for more than four hundred years, and his influence has spread around the world. In celebration of his 450th birthday this week, it’s time to look at his impact not just on the written word but on the world of cinema, as we count down the top ten best Shakespeares on film.

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10. The Tempest (2010)
Let’s get something straight: Julie Taymor’s take on The Tempest isn’t a particularly good one. Despite her amazing cast – Ben Whishaw and Alfred Molina among them – Taymor’s film is slow and confused, with an overload of special effects that can’t hide its choppy pace and tone. What it…

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Reviews of The Great Gatsby (1949-2013)

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So I just spent the last two days watching 4 different versions of The Great Gatsby and as you can imagine, all 4 versions are very different and bring their own essence of the beloved novel to light. The novel, written in 1925, is and will always be my favorite novel. It’s a story about taking the present and desperately trying to make it into the past. It’s about greed, lavish parties and the ability to hold on to an effervescent dream that may have already slipped away through your fingers.

The Great Gatsby (1949), directed by Elliott Nugent

  • Starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field, and Macdonald Careygreatgatsbyposter1949

In this black and white, 92 min, adaptation of the novel, the biggest difference I noticed was that this film added more from Daisy’s perspective than in any other. Scenes capture her driving the car that actually runs down Mertle Wilson,  a scene with her confessing the crime to her husband Tom, and a final scene with her being present when Wilson confronts Tom about who was driving the car. I found these scenes to be unnecessary. Maybe I feel this way because I wasn’t really interested in her point of view since the book originally takes place from Nick Carroway’s point of view, or possibly because Daisy never actually admits to the crime. The other changes that I noticed were that Nick and Jordan Baker knew each other before they meet in that first scene at Daisy’s house and Jordan was also the only other person who came to Gatsby’s funeral and there is, in fact, no mention of Gatsby father. I, honestly, just couldn’t get past all of the changes that were made. It totally changed the story.

Verdict: 8/12

 

The Great Gatsby (1974), directed by Jack Clayton

  • Starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, and Sam WaterstonGREAT-GATSBY-THE-1974-006

I found this, 143 min, adaptation of the novel to be much more enjoyable than the previous one. However, I wasn’t completely taken by the casting. Don’t get me wrong, Robert Redford was a great Jay Gatsby, he had his total look of precision, money, and light in his eyes. The other actors, however, did not. I felt Mia Farrow’s Daisy Buchanan to be flat and unemotional. Sam Waterston, as Nick Carroway, grew on me, but I still did not really feel his connection or dedication to Gatsby as I would have liked. Despite that, the film captures the story in a way that makes you want to have just as much hope as Gatsby did.

Verdict: 8/12

 

The Great Gatsby (2000), directed by Robert Markowitz (TV movie)greatgatsby2000

  • Starring Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino, and Paul Rudd

I found this 100 min adaptation of novel to be my least favorite. Now, I don’t want to start bashing tv movies because there are plenty of tv movies gems out there, but I have to say that this just falls short of that. It captures all of the main plot points of the novel to a T. In fact, it was almost too exact. All of the iconic lines from the novel were said just as they were in the book and it felt like they were just reading from a script. I, honestly, didn’t feel much heart in this adaptation. I’m a total fan of Paul Rudd and will always be, but even he couldn’t help the film capture the beauty of the novel.

Verdict: 6/12

 

 

The Great Gatsby (2013), directed by Baz Luhrman

  • Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Toby Mcguiregreatgatsby2013

This, 142 min, adaption is lavish, upbeat and breathtaking. The costumes and scenery are at their highest point and it’s one of the most beautiful renditions I have seen of the novel. Leonardo DiCaprio is a dream as Jay Gatsby and pulls off the essence of a man driven by hope in the best fashion I have seen yet. It captures all of the most moving moments of the novel in a way that will keep you rooting for Jay Gatsby. I know most people did not find that this adaptation lived up to all of the hype of the novel, but this is by far my favorite adaptation. It could, honestly, just be how visually appealing this version is or it could just be Leo, but I thoroughly look forward to watching this movie multiple times.

Verdict: 9/12

Despite the fact that all of these films try desperately to capture the spirit of Fitzgerald’s novel and, in some cases have gotten closer than others, I have yet to see an adaptation of the film that does the novel justice.

Metropolis (Restored Version 1927)

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Yes, I’m cheating here. It’s not 2014 and it’s not January. But, this is my blog and I can write whatever, and whenever, I want. I also really didn’t want to forget what happened in this crazy movie so I’m deciding to write about it now.

Basic premise of Metropolis: In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

Sounds pretty interesting, right? Add some purposefully over-exaggerated emotions, some cue cards, a black and white screen and you’ve got yourself a silent film from the 20’s. Metropolisposter

First off, I have to say that I was a bit thrown by this film. It had nothing to do with it being silent or in black and white. This is just a very…different film. In fact, this film is sporadic and insane. But in the best way possible. With the film taking place in the future, I wasn’t necessarily sure what to expect. My brother recommended the film to me, but didn’t really tell me what it was about. So as I watched, I became more and more intrigued, but at the same time, more and more uncomfortable. Brigitte Helm, who plays multiple roles, but is mostly known as Maria, was the character I found to be the most daunting. I did not fully understand her character and the role she played, but what she manages in screen is just what Sci-Fi is asking for; uneasiness. I honestly, didn’t fully understand the movie,  but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. It is extremely well done with unique camera angles and spot on scene development. As far as a Sci-Fi film goes, this is definitely at the top of the list. Visually, this movie is incredible. The sets are large and powerful and the details are masterful.

*Wondering about the restored version? This film was the first of the science fiction genre to feature a full length film. Since it was so long and some critics found the footage questionable (and thus requested plenty of censorship), the film was drastically cut down after its German premiere. Plenty of the footage was also lost over the decades. There were multiple attempts made to restore the film since the 70’s- 80’s. In 2008, a damaged print of Director, Fritz Lang’s, cut of the film was found in an Argentinian Museum and after a drawn out restoration process, the film was 95% restored and shown again on the big screen.*

This is my first review from the Silent Film Challenge

Review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

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First off, this film is extremely well done and the acting is phenomenal. It is completely worthy is it’s 3 Academy BenjaminButtonAwards. The biggest difference between the short story and this film is the story line. The film is dramatically different than the book. Basically, the only similarity they share is the fact that Benjamin ages backwards. Everything else in the film is of complete original creation.

That being said, it is a beautiful story about love, life and trying to find yourself. Brad Pitt is a dream beside Cate Blanchett’s acting prowess. I was very impressed by the visual affects and the make up job. It’s no wonder that it won Oscars for those very things. The ability to make Brad Pitt look even younger and older in an incredibly believable way is sheer magic.

The only downside to this movie is it’s length. At 2 hours and 45 mins, it gets a little hard to stay focused after a while. But I am impressed by the way the writers and director made a 20 page story into this long of a movie and did it in a brilliant fashion.

Rating: 9/12

 

 

Review of Ender’s Game (2013)

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Now, I literally just got back from seeing this movie so my thoughts are a little scattered still. My apologies.

That being said, I loved this movie. As per usual, things had to be changed from the book in order to adequately adapt into a well-working film, and Gavin Hood did his job well. It was a very well acted representation of the book and if you’ve never seen Asa Butterfield in action, now is the time to do so. He is the perfect representation of a young boy who becomes a commander in a war fought far from home.

It is visually stunning and thought provoking and it’s emotional counter parts will have you rushing back to the theater a second and possibly, a third time.

Rating: 10/12

Review of Dorian Gray (2009)

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This film looked very promising when I first saw the DVD cover simply because Ben Barnes’ lovely face and luscious hair were starring back at me.

That being said, that was the most promising part of the film. The film grasped the general ideas, sure enough, but there was definitely something missing. And although it was very visually appealing, the production lavish and well done, it just did not live up to the vision that Oscar Wilde entailed from the novel.

Rating: 7/12 Extra points for beauty in my book. We always want a visually stimulating movie, and visual stimulant we got.