The recently-released The Great Gatsby trailer has been highly divisive within the fandom, particularly due to the addition of modern elements and an apparent diversion from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. What does the trailer tell us about Baz Luhrmann’s treatment and interpretation of this literary classic, and what can we expect from the forthcoming film?

FITZGERALD VS LUHRMANN

It’s probably best to get this out of the way first. We have all been victim to the feeling of disappointment that inevitably comes when the film adaptations of our favourite books don’t meet our expectations. It is immediatley apparent from the trailer that this is a Baz Luhrmann production – it isn’t Fitzgerald on screen. Anyone going to the cinema expecting a strict retelling of Gatsby is going to be disappointed.

It is going to be over-the-top and it is going to be a spectacle. That is what Baz Luhrmann does, and he does it very well. There has been a fairly strong reaction to the trailer, but it would be practically impossible to translate Fitzgerald’s vision to screen, as his Gatsby is linked so intrinsically to his writing. Best to view the two as separate entities, and enjoy them as such.

MODERN ELEMENTS

Many will disagree, but we loved the trailer music and overly saturated colours. The colours just heightened the viewing experience, and so this is the jazz era – does it matter? Of course, hopefully Luhrmann also includes some era-appropriate music, and not withstanding the fact that trailer music won’t necessarily appear in the film, the tone of the music suited the plot immensely, even if the genre didn’t.

3D AND EFFECTS

We know that Luhrmann decided to film in Sydney instead of on location in New York because so much of the city was going to have to be digitally altered to recreate New York of the 1920s. The skyline was gorgeous, and we’re sure that these broader shots will be where 3D is really featured, as well as in the party scenes. There was something funny about the cars, we can’t decide if they weren’t finished or it was a stylistic choice to make them out of place – either way it was slightly jarring.

VOICE-OVERS AND FLASHBACKS

The opening quote may not have been from Gatsby, but it was still Fitzgerald, so we’ll take it. It was used brilliantly to set up the context of the story; although hopefully this doesn’t mean Maguire will be doing one film-length voice-over to try to fill in the gaps where in the novel, we hear Nick’s thoughts. Overuse of a voice-over will just take the viewer out of the world Luhrmann has created, which would be a shame.

The flashbacks looked out of place just based on the colouring. Maybe in a longer sequence it won’t be as jarring, but as a split-second flash in an otherwise overly bright trailer, it stuck out every time. However, flashbacks mean we will be getting some Gatsby war backstory (and maybe some for Nick too?), and that will be great, just as long as they are used sparingly. Please.

PLOT FOCUS

Based on the trailer, the biggest shift we can see from Fitzgerald’s novel is the focus on the Gatsby-Daisy love story, which seems to essentially be the plot of the film. The book was really about Nick and his interactions with this group of people who happened to be involved in a love-triangle/quadruple/mess; if Luhrmann’s interest lies in making this a love story, we can deal, as long as Nick’s character isn’t sacrificed in the process. It would be a shame to lose all the brilliant wit of the novel for the sake of making Moulin Rouge 2.0.

CASTING

THE WOMEN

Despite any prior misgivings, we are in love with Carey Mulligan’s delicate, wispy Daisy. We hope the sardonic element of her character is also included, but this was a very promising start. Similarly, Elizabeth Debicki was a wonderful surprise, although of course an unknown actress wasn’t going to have been cast without merit. Finally Isla Fisher as Myrtle was fabulous, while we didn’t get to see much of her, what we did had just the right touch of hysteria.

THE MEN

This is the biggest problem with the trailer – Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. We didn’t get to see a huge range of emotions from him in the trailer, mainly just this vaguely worried/irritated face. If this is all he’s got, this will be a disaster. Similarly with Tobey Maguire as Nick – Nick has a great wit, which we have yet to see from Maguire, but hopefully it will be included in the film. Finally, there’s Joel Edgerton as the bullying Tom. He looks the part, let’s just hope he gets a lot angrier in the film than he does in the trailer.

LITERARY ROOTS

METAPHORS AND SYMBOLISM

Without going too English Literature class on you, let’s take a minute to celebrate the inclusion of many of Fitzgerald’s genius metaphors. Essentially, The Great Gatsby is one giant metaphor, but still, it was so exciting to see Owl Eyes, and the looming eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, even if they both end up to be throwaway images. Now let’s just see DiCaprio mooning over that green light. We also hope to see the symbolism of the different classes of people as indicated by the East Egg/West Egg divide. Okay, end of class.

COSTUMES AND LOCATIONS

Oh wow, those costumes. Take a bow Catherine Martin (costume designer), because you are a 1920s genius. Also, Gatsby’s mansion was gorgeous, gaudy, and amazing. The costumes and the settings really anchored the film in the 1920s. Of course, the party scenes were a bit too grandiose, but it’s Baz Luhrmann so that should be expected. If there is one thing Luhrmann does well, it is style. His films always look stunning, even when they have very little, or nothing at all to say.

ANTICIPATION?

Despite the multitude of changes, and being devoted Fitzgerald readers, we are really looking forward to the film release. So maybe it will end up being a bit more of a love story with some Kanye West thrown in. Maybe DiCaprio was a poor choice, or the cars look a bit funny. The first half of the trailer still built up the anticipation of Gatsby’s reveal, and then shifted immediately from the glamourous parties to the more menacing undertones of Gatsby’s life.

This fall into decline was the entire point of Fitzgerald’s novel. He proposed that the wealth and fast-paced lifestyle were symptoms of a deeper problem, a desperate greed, corruption and emptiness that purveyed this decade of history and mirrored the decline of the ‘American Dream’. We hope to see this more fully developed in the film, but from the trailer we do feel like Luhrmann did understand this theme.

In the end, it could be a complete trainwreck, although a beautiful one a la Australia, or it could be a Romeo and Juliet style masterpiece – with Luhrmann it can be hard to tell. The trailer left us feeling hopeful and excited for the final product, and satisfied that despite the many changes, the production team do get what Gatsby is really about.

Now let’s see if they can pull it off.

What were your thoughts on the trailer? Did you like the incorporation of modern elements, or would you have prefered a stricter book-to-film adaptation?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Free will and humanity. Sacrifice and love. The nature of reality — and even of life itself. Beneath the plot, surprises, and pain, that’s what’s really going on in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spring finale.

That, and the characters who get caught in the middle.

Jed Whedon is Not. Playing. Around.

Executive producer and showrunner Jed Whedon is the man behind the pen and the camera in “Self Control,” and he’s there for a reason. Whedon’s first try at the director’s chair on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is operatic, incisive, and perpetually gut-clenching.

Yes, there are lovely and disturbing vistas, an artistry that comes from a deliberate and careful eye. But more important is the unshakable Whedon impulse that animates Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, that builds through the episode like a cresting tide.

You know that unmistakable sense that someone is laughing behind the scenes? Yeah. That’s why Jed Whedon is here.

What’s next?

Well, that’s a very good question. “Self Control” leaves us with a few razor-like possibilities, all of which lead down spiky corridors of questions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 is here to leave us thirsty for the season’s final seven episodes, and that’s exactly what it does.

Oh, and to answer your next question…

Cliffhanger?

Uh, yes. Cliffhanger.

Oh boy, cliffhanger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, “Self Control,” airs Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

What are your top theories for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4×15?

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

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Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

‘Liberty’s Kids’


Liberty’s Kids aired in the early 2000s on PBS. Liberty’s Kids follows three teenagers from varying backgrounds throughout the American Revolution, mentored by Benjamin Franklin. It is geared for children but is still pretty enjoyable for adults. In each episode, the teenagers encounter a significant person or event from the revolution, giving a concise and entertaining history lesson. The show features many important figures throughout the revolution, showing even more presidents than in Hamilton. As one can imagine, Washington is among these.

‘Lincoln’


Lincoln is a 2012, Oscar nominated movie, directed by Steven Spielberg based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Instead of a biopic of Lincoln’s entire life, Lincoln is specifically about his passing of the 13th amendment. Essentially directed between each of his science fiction blockbusters, Spielberg also made many significant historical movies, Lincoln among them. Lincoln not only shows his power as a president, but also humanizes him through an Oscar winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

‘1776’


Hamilton is not the first musical about American history. Thankfully, though, because this way there are other options, one of which is 1776. Even more conveniently, the musical 1776 was adapted into a movie in the early 1970s. Heavily implied by its name, 1776 is about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 definitely has a more classical musical theater vibe than Hamilton. The strange combination of American history and musical theater allows for a humorous yet educational experience. However, as reflective of the history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington is not a character in the musical; yet, it obviously includes many other significant historical figures.

‘The West Wing’ or ‘The American President’


Unlike the other items on this list, these two are about fictional presidents. But it would be nice if they were real. Of the many politically charged movies and television shows by Aaron Sorkin, these two are specifically about presidents. If you have the day off and want to attempt to binge watch seven seasons, then you may want to check out The West Wing. The West Wing follows President Bartlet and his staff and advisors during their time in the White House. If you want a movie to help you transition between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day then The American President is worth watching. It is a romantic comedy about President Shepherd, who falls in love with a lobbyist.

How else will you celebrate President’s Day?

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

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The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!