Moview Review: The Great Gatsby

I didn’t get a chance to see The Great Gatsby when it hit theaters this past spring. I was anxious to see it. I really love Baz Luhrman’s work. It’s over the top and visually stimulating, and always good about pin-pointing a period of time with a subtle weave of modern day accessibility via score and soundtrack. Also, I am a huge F. Scott Fitzgerald fan. A few of the story nuances may have gotten tangled in that cobweb filled, lit-obsessed mind of mine, but the story is synonymous with everything I love about his work:  the decadence, idealism, and excess of the Jazz Age, coupled alongside impractical and incredibly tender and eloquent stories of youth and love that is often suffocated and tainted by the greed filled society that surrounds them. (Phew, wish I could have summed up my words like THAT in college).

I will admit, I wasn’t a fan of the 1974 film starring Robert Redford. The man is gorgeous, of course. I mean, stunning in the way J. Gatsby should be. But the film always failed to bring out the opulence of the Jazz Age, and Mia Farrow’s Daisy Buchanan always appeared dingy and flighty, not self centered or narcissistic in the way those of us who have a love/hate relationship with Fitzgerald’s Daisy imagine her to be.  Check out the original trailer below, you will see what I mean.

Stark contrast to the high energy, totally stunning, reel you in trailer from Luhrman:

Farrow’s Daisy  also wasn’t nearly as stunning as Carey Mulligan’s Daisy. I know movies have changed a lot in the past 35 years, so maybe some of the look in feel of the film and its characters were transformed in a way now, that they couldn’t be, then. But Farrow’s Daisy was always off and that ruins a movie for me…when you can’t love/hate the character the same way on the screen as you do in the book because of bad casting. (You hear me Kristen Stewart??)

People can say what they want about Leo DiCaprio, but I happen to like the actor. I think he has gotten unfairly overlooked by the Academy over the years. Some of his films have been incredible – Blood Diamond and Inception to name a few. But I feel like no one has ever really given him a fair chance since Titanic. To this I have to say come on! You gave Kate Winslet a chance to move past the film, people really should let Leo move on, too. And he didn’t look too bad. His “old sport” was a bit irritating, but they were in the book as well. There is actually a point in the movie where I am so in love with the both of them (Caprio’s Gatsy and Mulligan’s Daisy), they look that good together, that I almost forget Daisy is a self obsessed snob and he, nothing but a bootlegger.

Luhrman was careful not to forget to focus on the exquisite writing of Fitzgerald using key moments in the film to underscore the brilliance of his work by bringing the words to life on screen, including my favorite line from the book, uttered by Nick Carraway: “I was both within and without.” Poetic. Every time I read the story it gets me. Every. Single. Time.

Last but not least, I want to say a hearty well done to Jay Z for his work on the soundtrack – an effort he brought to life through collaborations with many amazing, talented artists that I happen to love including Lana Del Ray, Florence + the Machine, The xx, and Nero, to name a few. Who cares what this rambling review from the Village Voice says. It’s fabulous and I am only sorry it took me four months to discover it. I love it that much. Don’t trust me? Check out the following tracks: Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful,” Florence + the Machine’s “Over the Love,” The xx’s “Together,” Gotye’s “Hearts A Mess,” and Nero’s “Into the Past.” Of course Jack White’s cover of U2’s “Love is Blindness” — as heard in the soundtrack — is incredible. But I would have loved to have heard the two collaborate on that.

I’m not a huge Tobey Macguire fan, but he plays a pretty good clueless Nick Carraway and Isla Fisher has little screen time as Myrtle.  Joel Edgerton is a solid Tom Buchanan. I really liked him in The Odd Life of Timothy Green . He’s an actor I am going to pay a bit more attention to in the future.

All in all a film I really, really, really enjoyed and the beautiful architecture of the Jazz Age captured brilliantly in the films many, many, many marketing pieces such as the cast photo below.

“The Great Gatsby” is now out on PPV and DVD and Blu-Ray.

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My take on book covers and trailers

As I move into the final stage of preparation before my first novel is available, I am reminded of the growing importance of knowing your audience and marketing to that audience.  Publishers of YA novels know their audience well. They have mastered the art of attracting readers and encouraging buzz through two simple concepts: the book cover and fan videos.

Lauren Kate’s Fallen series has probably one of the most successful case studies of this exact approach in my opinion. In honor of the forthcoming Rapture, the last book in the series due out in December (December, ugh! that long?!), I wanted to share a little bit more on why I think so.

Fallen’s cover was the very reason why I reached for the book to begin with. Sitting on a bookshelf, surrounded by dozens of vampire and werewolf series, it stuck out. It was like an Evanescence video — dark and haunting — and I needed to know what it was about. If it captured my attention, a woman in her late thirties, I could only imagine how it captured the attention of its league of readers – the screaming 16 year old girl.

I read the series and of course I was hooked. While I didn’t think it was written particularly well, I did like the story and had to know what was to come of the main character Luce, and this beyond beautiful boy she was strangely drawn to, whom we later learn is Daniel, a fallen angel who is destined to find  and lose Luce lifetime after lifetime – punishment for “something” they did thousands of years earlier.

When I started to research Lauren Kate to learn more about the series, I then stumbled onto the website which echoed the dark design of the book, with the sound of crows and wind, and a visual of the book’s setting – a dilapidated church serving as a reform school for problematic teens. But not only did I find the website creative, but the book’s community of fans as well, creating their own buzz and excitement around the series through incredible fan videos.

Tapping into this fever, publishers created contests for fans to submit their videos, which were then showcased on the book’s website. And because the community showed such excitement for the series through videos, the book’s marketing team created an incredible video trailer to tease the next book in the series, Torment. Featured on the book’s website, it served as the point of entry for the site.

Then the book cover was revealed.

And it didn’t stop there. For the third book in the series, Passion, the trailer went a step further, giving readers insight into the theme of the book, which was history and time.

And of course the book cover was incredible, finally revealing Luce’s face, which was another nod to the story, as we finally get to see in that book who Luce is and has been lifetime after lifetime.

But the trailer for the series’ conclusion, Rapture, is truly epic and worth an award in itself. While the cover has already been revealed, and isn’t one of my favorites, the trailer is truly incredible and has me on pins and needles waiting for the book.

I just watched it today for the first time so I wanted to share it with you. Of course I am an aspiring novelist so I don’t have her marketing budget as Ms. Kate. But I am trying a few fun things, and drawing my inspiration from the buzz around books that I have really enjoyed these past few years, including the Fallen series, and its epic conclusion Rapture, whose trailer I could get lost in.

Case and point.