The Great Gatsby - Thoughts On The Film

I wrote a review of this novel way back last year (which you can read here) where I said that the Luhrmann Adaptation was to be released (last) December - Boy did they move that date! It came out here on Thursday and on Friday to celebrate the end of my degree I went to see it - in 3D no less!

First off I'll just say that I hate Toby Maguire  can not stand him in anything, so this film was always going to be a challenge for me as he is cast as the protagonist Nick Carraway, and...he wasn't good, I'm sorry if you're a fan, but really his confusion and awkwardness throughout just made him so unnatural to me. I know Nick was the perpetual outsider in the novel but, ugh, I don't know, I just felt like he was there only to support Jay and Daisy, whereas in the book, that's the first feeling you get, but then Nick becomes a main character in his own right through his way of thinking and his calm understanding. I know that it's hard to turn that kind of character into someone big on-screen, but Luhrmann found a way to convey Nicks thinking through his typing up his memoirs, and he still wasn't believable for me. I just think different casting could have improved the film so much, in terms of Nick anyway.

Leonardo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby, was pretty darn perfect. I didn't think anyone could get away with saying "old sport" so many times in 140 minutes, but he did! And he did it without being repetitive which is surely enough to merit praise in it's own right. For me, Dicaprio just nailed the act of the cool slick city gentleman, simmering with desire and complicated thoughts under the surface. Within his mysterious first few half appearances, you just knew the character was going to be the man you'd read about - and that's all I wanted. I also really loved the way Luhrmann kept taking us back to that green light and cementing in that hope that kept Gatsby going, it was such a nice way to implement his desire without giving him unnecessary dialogue or making him in anyway un-Gatsby through thoughtful monologues or anything twee like that.

Daisy was Daisy. Carey Mulligan played her well enough but she always was the least important character in the novel, it was Gatsby's infatuation of her that was important, not really the character herself.

The other lead females did well enough though Elizabeth Debicki was just beautiful as Jordan Baker, but she kind of lacked that spunkiness from the novel that makes her so memorable.
Isla Fisher as Myrtle was quite despicable as she should be, but again lacking. I think it's because so much was missing, smaller story lines were taken out so that the film could focus on this "bromance" between Carraway and Gatsby, which to me was not even one of the most important themes from the novel. I know that books are not always one sided and we each take from them what we will, but I just don't know what made Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, who was the other screenwriter, take this friendship to be the most important thing to show on screen.

Not that all of this means I didn't enjoy the film; far from it, it was good, it just wasn't a great adaptation. Probably the best thing about this film is just watching it, because Luhrmann as many know makes theatre production of films, and what better show to put on then one of the American Dream - the books ultimate theme. This gorgeous setting of a changing city free from prohibition and out to loose morals have a damn good time was just perfect for him to blow up on the big screen. The film truly is a visual delight, and especially in 3D, where you truly feel the magnificent splendour of a Gatsby Party. Another great thing about Luhrmann is the way he mixes modern music into these tales of long ago, (I'm sure we all remember Romeo's entrance to Radiohead's Talk Show Host *shivers*) and this is done well in Gatsby. The soundtrack is on-point and makes you wonder what else could possibly of been played during Gatsby's parties if not Beyonce overs or Kanye West.

Go and see this film, see it if you haven;t read the book and you'll probably come away more satisfied than if you have, but even then, it's still worth a watch just t better imaging that world where men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.


The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick

I saw the adaptation of this book at the cinemas a while back and bought the book not long after. I started reading but ran out of steam about halfway through and put it back on the shelf, not starting again until a few days ago when I quickly got through it.

The Silver Linings Playbook is the story of Pat Peoples, a thirty something man who is just being released from a mental institution into his parents care as the novel begins. Pat is in the institution for a breakdown of mental health resulting from the dissolution of his marriage to College sweetheart Nikki. Pat and Nikki are having "apart time", a time for Pat to work on his body and mind so that he will be a better husband to Nikki once "apart time" is over, Pat's way of justifying a restraining order. While in the care of his anxious mother and stone-faced, sports obsessed father, Pat meets Tiffany - a similarly aged divorcee. Pat has a kinship with Tiffany who is also thought of as mentally unstable, and the two find a solace in one another that they cannot seem to get from other relationships. This is basically a story of recovery and discovery, letting go of the past and learning to see the silver linings in life, no matter how unlikely they may be.

The book is nothing like the film really, so if you weren't impressed by the adaptation please give the book a chance. In the book Pat reads Plath's Bell Jar which he at first is annoyed by and does not understand, but I see this book as a sort of modern, male version. Though it's not a memoir, and by all accounts not based on anything "real life", Pat's journey really does seem honest and like Pat says about "Esther" when he reads the book, he just wants to comfort her; that's what he ends up taking from it, and that's a very similar feeling to the one I got from his character.

I loved the style of writing, and being tied to Patrick and his emotions. There was a huge sense of things being hidden from him by the other characters and they were hidden from us too - the journey of this novel was a great one because we were so in-tuned to the protagonist in this way.

This is Quick's first novel which I think explains the very slightly "scattered" feeling of the narrative, but considering the subject matter I think this actually works really well and is probably one of the reasons the book was published. To me anyway, this is one of those rare books that deal with mental disorders that don't sound like they are coming from a "now-healed" mind, rather it's like we're seeing Patrick's world as he really feels and observes it during his recovery.


The Madman's Daughter - Megan Shepherd

I mentioned a while back that I was interested in reading this book because it is a sort of sequel to H.G. Wells' The Island Of Dr Moreau, which I was reading at the time (see review here). Anyway, turns out this book is pretty tricky to track down for us Brits if we don't want to pay a huge shipping fee, so I downloaded the eBook and an app for my phone to read it on. I wasn't too keen on the idea, I'm one of those "paper books over kindle" types, but surprisingly I only put two bookmarks in this file and finished it in as many sittings, so I guess it was pretty easy to read. I'll try not to reveal anything major about either books should you choose to read them; Wells' should always be heard first hand.

I really enjoyed Wells' original tale of scientific horror and intrigue and I hoped this would be just as good but... I was kind of disappointed. The story centres around Dr. Moreau's daughter who believes him dead. Cast out from society after her fathers public shame surrounding his scientific experiments on animals, the daughter; Juliet, now works in a medical college as a cleaner until one night a professors unwelcome advances are met by a swift injury, causing Juliet to be out of a job.

Fate connects her with old family servant Montgomery, an original from the Wells' tale, though sexed up to fit the new audience. Montgomery admits that Juliet's father is still alive and that he is returning to him presently, a journey Juliet begs to accompany him on to find out the truth about her father. This is where the story kind of looses focus. While on the ship carrying Juliet, Montgomery, his strangely deformed servant and a slew of exotic animals to Moreau's island, the crew come across a dinghy in the ocean. Like the original story, Montgomery gets the man aboard and agrees he must come to the island, seeing as the crew are likely to throw him overboard and there are no other ships. Once on the island Juliet then must confront her feelings which are scattered between the two men.

This is what I didn't like; this story did have potential but I feel the author just flipped it into a love triangle as soon as she could to make it an easier, lower (age) rated book. The horror from the original is all but stripped away and what's left is a teenage love story where the "heroine" is too wrapped up in men to see any danger around her. Even when the "big reveal" comes out at the end, she still lacks depth or any real connectivity with the audience. It just felt like Shepherd was more keen on trying to put her spin on the teen-supernatural-romance craze than creating good characters and well written story. I thought the main relationship in the book would be between Juliet and Moreau but that takes a major back-seat so that romance can be explored. I did like the sense of poetic justice in the end but it didn't really salvage the story for me.

Overall I think I'm feeling like one of those people that sigh at Hunger Games lovers and tell them to look at Battle Royal instead. Just read the original; there isn't any romance, but it's a damn good story which is more than I can say for this.

*sorry it's been so long, but I'm finished with Uni now and should be posting regularly again now that I'm not too stressed out to actually pick up a book.


One Day - David Nicholls

One of those charity shop books that you buy because you went into the shop with high bookspectations (I'm coining that) and were let down. Basically, I wanted to buy something, and I'd heard of this. Let's just say I'm glad I got it cheap because I don't think it's worth its printed price.

One Day is the loooong and arduous story of Emma and "Dex" and their friendship as they grow from students into middle age. When I first started reading this I was actually quite caught up as the first chapter takes on the pairs graduation night, and I myself am rapidly approaching that phase of my life. But, it all went downhill from there.

The most important thing in a novel for me will always be the characters and their development, because if I don't care about the characters then why am I reading the book? I'm not emotionally invested and therefore nothing that happens can make me care, and unfortunately this book really lacked good characters.

Strangely enough, I did quite like the character of Emma at times, though I did feel the author made her a little too confused and that she lacked direction. I say strangely, because the author is male, but; in this book anyway, he seems to make a much more relatable connection with his female characters. The character of Dex is one of the worst I've ever read. He had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and I actually really wanted something awful to happen to him just so there'd be some development. Sadly though, he stayed his awful, aggravating self throughout the whole of the novel, and - *SPOILER ALERT*, Nicholls kills off the wrong character. He ends Emma's time in the novel at about 3/4 of the way through, just as the couple finally decide to be together romantically, which I just can't understand. I thought at that point that this was going to be the point of Dex's character progression because he's have to adjust without the emotional crutch of his best friend and lover, but no; HE STAYED THE SAME. Did you get bored halfway through writing Nicholls? I mean, I honestly can't understand why this book got published. (And became a bestseller?!)

I have however seen this type of story done well. Cecilia Ahern's Where Rainbows End has this same type of story arc: two young friends who grow older and are separated by thousands of miles, other relationships, family hardships, and still manage to come together in the end. If you ever consider buying One Day, please put it down and seek this out instead - you'll be much happier when you turn the last page, trust me.

I know there's an adaptation with Anne Hathaway but I don't even think she could redeem this story for me, we've gone too far together now.


Watching: Game of Thrones Season 3 (Lord yes), New Girl Season 2. Everything else seems to be on Hiatus.

Listening To: Kate Bush, Johnny Cash, Sound City.

Thinking About: Family, health, the future

Loving: Being overly dramatic in my script project, which results in over the tp title pages based on blacked out government letters.

Reading: HTML & CSS 6th Edition, Build You Own Website The Right Way Using HTML & CSS. :(

Making Me Happy: Plenty of tea, quilting. (I'm only in my 20's I swear.)


The Host - Stephenie Meyer

When Twilight (the movie) was released back in 2008, I was a girl of 17, the same age as the lead character; Bella Swan. Needless to say I, like millions of other teenage girls, fell immediately in love with the story and rushed out to buy all of the books in the series. At the time, I would argue for the story's integrity to anyone who would listen because, hello, Bella & Edward were in love didn't you know? ... But I'm not 17 any more  I'm 22 and I don't... can't, look at the story the way I used to; it took me a while but I finally did see the heavily implied, thinly veiled messages in Twilight. Firstly, the whole series is an advertisement on abstinence and Mormonism (the religion of the writer) and this bugged me ... a lot. I know it's a really old trick to stamp religious propaganda all over stories and fables, but wow, did this one do the trick. Millions of teenage girls suddenly convinced waiting for marriage is the right thing without even realising they've been persuaded into thinking that way from a YA novel, this sits really uneasily with me. The second thing that now bothers me about the story is that actions I perceived as a young girl as loving and caring, are actually barbaric and downright demeaning. Think about it, if a boyfriend told you that you were no longer allowed to go certain places, see certain people, drive your car etc, you'd go mad. Their relationship is basically one of domineering control and a really bad example to set up for young girls.

Because of all this, I was a little reluctant to read Meyer's other novel The Host, but I found it on eBay for £1 and I thought it might help out with some dystopian research I was doing so I bought it, ad I'm so glad I did!

Basically, this book is nothing like Twilight. There is no real sense of danger where you expect it, and the protagonist; Wanderer, makes the right choices for her life, not the choices men want her to make, which makes her a much stronger heroine than Bella Swan.

The story is set in the future, where an alien race has invaded earth and taken over human bodies to live in. The majority of the population are now these "aliens". There is a small human resistance, of which one member is a young girl in her 20's; Melanie. Melanie leaves her lover and young brother to enter a city at night looking for a cousin she believes to still be human. When Melanie is caught by the "seekers" (aliens who search for the human resistance) she runs and attempts suicide so the aliens may not have her body. However, they have extensive medical advances and are able to save Melanie's body, putting alien Wanderer inside.

Wanderer, like the rest of the aliens, is a gentle soul. They do not believe in, nor are capable of violence or anger. They all work, but money is not used in their world, they simply take what they need and pay for it by putting work into the community. Wanderer works as a teacher, but finds her concentration more and more distant as she begins to hear a voice in her head. Melanie's voice.

The rest of the story is about the struggle and friendship of these two souls locked inside one body and the prejudice's they face against each others races. I really liked this story, and better, I liked the characters. It was really interesting to read something dystopian about invasion but not to have any real outside fear to pace the story. There is no government or "big brother" watching Wanderer, and the pace comes from her character development alone which works really well.

The adaptation is released in cinema's either this or next week I think and it will be interesting to see if they have made it a true adaptation of the books... or just created a blockbuster love story touted on Meyer's name. We'll see.


Top Ten  Books I Recommend The Most

1) We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver. Thebes book I read last year, absolutely stunning and you just can't put it down, I wish everybody would read this.

2) The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky. Beautiful, soulful and ageless. Ignore the hype about John Green because I think this beats anything he's ever done.

3) Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk. My very favourite Palahniuk, and one of my most loved contemporary romances, I love this book.

4) ASOIAF Series - George R.R. Martin. I don't think there's any reader who wouldn't enjoy this series -- it has everything! Dragons, war, death, sex, wolves, beautiful northerners, king's, queen's, imp's, intrigue, betrayal....Read it!

5) Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte. The best love story ever written.

6) Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen. Because Mr. Darcy.

7) Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov. I had to have one banned book on this list, and this is one of my very favourites. I think before you read it it can be an easy tale to judge, but once immersed you'll wonder why you ever saw any problem with it.

8) Fiesta/The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway. One of my favourite novels, and I think a game changer for those who say they dislike Hemingway's writing.

9) The Most Beautiful Women In Town - Charles Bukowski. This was the first Bukowski I read and I've never looked back.

10) The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath. I think it's really important for young women to read this book. Everyone always talks about coming of age stories and recommends The Catcher In The Rye, and while it's a great book, I think it's very easy to grow out of and I think it's important to have a female presence in that genre. The Bell Jar feels like it will be with me always, while now I'm at an age when I just want to tell Holden to grow up.


Worst Book Cover Re-designs

I saw that Jana over at The Broke & The Bookish wrote a post on cover re-designs and I thought, wow what a perfect opportunity for a rant! Here my favourite, worst redesigns;

This one really makes me cringe. Everything from the glaringly obvious terrible sales pitch to the image are just wrong. One, a rose? really? There couldn't have been a less appropriate flower to use, and it's thriving and bold, so unlike the dire and desperate landscape of the novel. Poor show. (Also, a love that never dies? It did die, along with Heathcliff.)

Oh yes show a vain girl putting on her make up! Because this book was really all about how polished and pretty Plath was.

"The most romantic story ever written"....between a prostitute and a gay man.

If Mill's and Boon did the 1920's.

Some re-designs really do pull it off though...

This is probably my favourite re-design ever, well done Penguin! (it's 1984 if you can't see it!)


Top Ten Five Books I HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

I got pretty good at reading my accumulated book pile last year so I don't actually think I have 10!

1) The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe. This book sounded like something I'd love, it was my favourite era/setting etc, but ... I read I am Charlotte Simmons first and realised what a terrible author Wolfe was, so this is still unread.

2) Underworld - Don Delillo. This was an author I'd wanted to get into for a long time, and when I finally got Underworld cheaply on eBay I was really excited to read it ... but it's still unread!

3) Invisible Monsters Remix - Chuck Palahniuk. The reason I've not yet started this one is because I want to re-read the original again first, and I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

These next two are kind of cheats because they actually just came today but:

4) The Host - Stephanie Meyer. Research for my dystopia project.

5) The Handmaid's tale - Margaret Atwood. Research also.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...