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The Films of Baz Luhrmann

Strictly Ballroom

Romeo + Juliet

Moulin Rouge!

Australia

The Great Gatsby (June 21/13)

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's tedious novel, The Great Gatsby follows Tobey Maguire's Nick Carraway as he befriends an enigmatic millionaire named Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and subsequently finds himself drawn into a world of lavish parties and privileged opulence. Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann does a spectacular job of alienating the viewer right from the word go, as The Great Gatsby has been infused with a pervasively artificial feel that's reflected in its various attributes - with the shot-on-the-cheap visuals, laughably fake-looking sets, and overuse of computer-generated effects perpetuating the movie's low-rent, bottom-of-the-barrel status. It does, as a result, go without saying that one's efforts at embracing the thin storyline and uniformly uninteresting characters fall flat on a continuous basis, while the incredible lack of momentum ensures that the movie's 142 minute (!) running time often feels much, much longer. And although the performances are admittedly far better than the film deserves - DiCaprio's charming work is matched by a stellar supporting cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, and Jason Clarke - The Great Gatsby's distressingly irrelevant atmosphere ensures that its few positive elements are rendered moot and canceled out from start to finish. The end result is as disastrous and pointless an adaptation as one can easily recall, and it's ultimately impossible not to wonder just what Luhrmann originally set out to accomplish with this bloated trainwreck of a movie.

no stars out of

© David Nusair