Category Archives: tobey maguire

The Great Gatsby 2013

The Great Gatsby ~ Every time I think of this Baz Luhrman flick, I can’t help thinking about the “Entourage” fictional version Gatsby. Maybe if I keep thinking that, I can also manifest another fake movie from the show, Aquaman, ’cause that one I really want to see.

At first, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to see this new version of Gatsby. I remember vaguely reading it as a teenager, and then being made to read it in college. I remember watching a TV version as an ABC movie of the week back in the seventies and being bored to tears.

The Great Gatsby is a lot of tell vs. show, along with subtext and metaphor that if you don’t get, your English teacher or professor will have a seizure. It’s also full of unlikable characters. It serves its purpose, like say Catcher in the Rye, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Then there’s the problem of the director. Baz Luhrman, for me, is a creator of extremes. I think his Romeo + Juliet is a work of brilliance, yet his critically acclaimed Moulin Rouge! revels in the mud of my bottom five. I hated it. And because of it, I approach any further Luhrman work with contempt, derision, and caution. The Great Gatsby, seemingly in a similar vein to those two previously mentioned films, is definitely no exception.

I did not hate this version of Gatsby, but I didn’t love it either. It falls somewhere around my impression of the 1970s one, less than impressed, and bored. The leads are strong and perfect had this been in hands of any other director. Luhrman resorts to camera tricks, fast motion, modern music, and even 3-D trickery, and all any of it does is sour and dilute the classic story. Don’t waste your time, unless you’re a fan or morbidly curious.


Brothers ~ This intense 2009 melodrama is a remake of the critically acclaimed Danish film Brodre. It’s powerful melodrama and if this flick has one flaw it is that it is melodrama.

Sam and Tommy are brothers. As ne’er-do-well Tommy returns from prison for a drinking offense, Sam is shipping off to the Middle East again. When Sam is apparently killed, Tommy, not by design, moves in on Sam’s wife and kids. Tortured by the enemy, Sam finally returns home a changed man. And that’s when the trouble really starts.

Tobey Maguire’s Sam is an acting tour de force – where is his Oscar nom? He deserved it just as much as Jeremy Renner certainly. This film reveals the creepiness that was always bubbling under his performances and shows it off scarily. Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy and Natalie Portman as Sam’s wife are so entrenched in their characters the actors are nearly unrecognizable. And when did Mare Winningham go from brat packer to matronly actress?

Brothers also has a phenomenal score by Thomas Newman and a soundtrack that strongly features “Water” by U2. And that’s saying a lot as I am so not a U2 fan. This flick is highly recommended.

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Summer Three-Quels I

A lot of folks who know my passion for comics had been complaining long before Spider-Man 3 came out. They told me it’s not following the comics. They told me they’re not respecting the source material. These are both points that usually are my mantra when it comes to comic book movies.

Spider-Man 3 in my opinion is not inclusive with those rules. Not only is it a sequel, it’s a sequel to a sequel. It’s not playing by the comic’s rules any longer, but by its own internal continuity. The only thing it needs to stay true to are the previous two movies. No longer a comics entity, it is its own.

That said, it sucked, it sucked big time. Oh, there were some nice scenes, mostly special effects scenes of Spidey falling through spinning debris. The problem was that it was cool the first time they showed it. That, added to the number of times it was shown in previews and commercials, was only impressive once. We saw this trick several times throughout the movie, so many times it got boring. And again, it was a special effect. Notably, the two previously flicks were not spfx films but character-driven vehicles. That’s why we love Peter Parker on the screen as well as in the comics.

Where was Peter Parker in this film? He was there in name, just as actor Tobey Maguire was. He was terrible in this picture, as was Kirsten Dunst. And director Sam Raimi let this shit get through to the theatres. The only explanation I can come up with is that it’s a massive conspiracy by the three of them to make sure they don’t have to do a fourth movie. Watching this crap I can only guess their plan was to sabotage the flick.

The story, or lack of one, reminded me sickly of things like Batman and Robin, Batman Forever and Superman III. Stuffed with two much crap and executed badly. Too many villains, too many subplots, too much forced comedy and too much unintended campiness. Sandman’s connection to Uncle Ben came out of nowhere. Venom, who is never named in the film, seemed shoehorned into the flick. And the black costume seemed to only serve to have Maguire act like an ass.

I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it a lot. I feel it’s an insult to everyone who worked on the first two films including those who destroyed this one. I pray for no Spider-Man 4.


Quickies 5-31-2007

“Afro Samurai” – Almost anything with Samuel L. Jackson is a good time as far as I’m concerned, and this English translation of this oddball anime is no exception. Jackson voices the hero as only he can, backed up by Ron Perlman as the villain and Kelly Hu in the small role of the girl. What at first seems like any mindless nonsensical manga actually has an edge and some classy M. Night surprises, so keep sharp while you watch. Blaxploitation meets Ralph Bakshi meets Toshiro Mifune. This is definitely worth a look.

WarGames – I just recently caught this one after not having seen it since its theatrical release. What seemed brilliant to a teenager now comes off as amateurish and just a bit preachy. It’s still fun however to see the young Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy.

Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story – Long title, I sure hope the review is longer than that at least. This rushed-onto-the-small-screen telemovie was written and directed by John Herzfeld who has also done stuff like “The Ryan White Story” and “The Preppie Murder” as well as a couple Afterschool Specials. It’s not all good and true though, he also directed 15 Minutes and 2 days in the Valley. This story seems to take Joey Buttafucco’s side in the infamous Amy Fischer story. Fischer is played with hysterical histrionics by Alyssa Milano, late of “Who’s the Boss.” This is not one of her better moments.

The Good German – This was advertised as a good old-fashioned film noir, it was even filmed in black and white. The flick, set in post-war Nazi Germany, does all the right noir tricks but it’s scarred by current day language and violence. Tobey MacGuire does a sinister turn worthy of an Oscar as a complete bastard. Cate Blanchett eats up scenery like an early Bette Davis and George Clooney (of whom there is far too little) mugs for the camera when he’s not getting beaten up. The plot is complex but compelling, must see.

Everything Is Illuminated – This touching story of an obsessive accountant, played by Elijah Wood, who tries to find the woman who helped his grandfather escape from the Nazis sometimes feels like the love child of Pedro Almodovar and Borat. Although it’s funny and bizarre where Borat was simply insulting and hateful. It’s also a must see though.