It’s understood from the first frame of any Baz Luhrmann film that nothing is going to have much to do with the real world. That’s the whole point. You don’t go to one of the man’s films to be entranced by finely-etched characters or dry wit; you go or not based on your appetite for noisy sensory overkill. Spectacles like Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge don’t tell stories so much as they smash elements together so that everyone can “ooh” and “aah” as the sparks glitter and fly. Anachronisms are no matter, as he flings straight-no-chaser Shakespeare into the sunny alleyways of Venice Beach and late-20th century pop-mashups into fin-de-siècle Paris. His signature style is film as fireworks display, a truism brought tediously to life in his newest work of crassly commercial culture-hacking, The Great Gatsby.
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In many ways, I am not at all surprised the Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are currently enjoying a moment with the success of their film The Heat. Both are extremely likable actresses; both have been on something of a box office roll, and the arrival of a true female buddy cop film has long been overdue. After all, why should only the guys have any fun?
Hey, Warner Brothers. Let me save you some time (and hundreds of millions of dollars—you can send an honorarium to my Paypal account). This proposed mash-up between Superman and Batman? Bad idea. Really bad idea. Building an amusement park full of dinosaurs bad. Hiring Lindsay Lohan bad. Cheating on your spouse with a syphilitic stripper bad. If it wasn’t so outrageously misguided it would still border on the baffling. You’ve just watched Christopher Nolan elevate the comic book genre to an artform, seen his work praised and accepted worldwide - and, let’s face it, you did bank a bunch of money as a result. In fact, it’s safe to say that the filmmaker’s revisionist trilogy is one of the most beloved examples of the superhero archetype ever (all growling Christian Bale aside). And now you want to do this to the Dark Knight? The guy who saved your ass? Seriously?
For many, it’s everything the summer movie season was made for. It’s got a high profile star (Brad Pitt), a high concept premise (a global zombie pandemic), a high level of spectacle (these creatures are fast and capable of mass destruction), and apparently, such sentiments are shared with many both within and outside the horror demo. With an estimated $66 million at the box office over the 21 June weekend (and little competition coming from the likes of The Heat and White House Down), World War Z seems ready to beat the odds, to prove the pundits wrong, and walk out of 2013 a sizeable hit.
There’s been a lot of debate online over the weekend regarding the new Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Most has centered on the quality of the movie itself, which seems to be divided strictly along “love it or loathe it” lines. Few are in middle, though you will get the occasional comic book nerd who defends the reinterpretation of the character while condemning Zack Snyder’s handling of same. But the biggest brouhaha has centered around the last act battle between Clark/Kal-El and the Kryptonian tyrant, General Zod. In order to address this grievance, and the conclusion of their clash, one will have to delve deeply into Spoiler Territory. If you have yet to see the film, we recommend you stop reading now, and comeback once you’ve witnessed what has so many in an uproar.
You’ve been warned…
// Notes from the Road
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