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The Great Gatsby: Party On, Baz

by Ethan Alter May 10, 2013 8:00 am
The Great Gatsby: Party On, Baz

There are many ways to describe Baz Lurhmann's directing style, but "restrained" sure as hell isn't one of them. From Strictly Ballroom to Australia, each of the Aussie auteur's films embrace emotional and cinematic excess in grand, borderline ridiculous ways. That makes him an unlikely, but also inspired choice to tackle an adaptation of a Great NovelTM like F. Scott's Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, a text so revered that movie versions can become ossified by their own self-importance. That's what happened to the last Gatsby flick, the 1974 Robert Redford/Mia Farrow tour-de-boredom that was so respectful of Fitzgerald's text that it transformed his vibrant novel into a pretty, but inert soap opera.

Cloud Atlas: Five Other Unadaptable Books We’d Like to See As Movies

We've already listed some of the other unlikely book-to-film translations that Cloud Atlas put us in mind of. But seeing what writer/directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski achieved with this challenging adaptation of David Mitchell's unique novel made us eager for some brave visionary to bring the following five seemingly unadaptable books brought to the screen.


Argo: Fake It Til You Make It

by Ethan Alter October 12, 2012 6:01 am
Argo: Fake It Til You Make It

Your average, conventional thriller probably wouldn't build its big climactic set-piece around a bunch of people waiting in line at the airport trying to catch a plane, but then Argo most certainly isn't your average, conventional thriller. Instead, Ben Affleck's third feature film as a director is a loving throwback to the political procedurals of the '70s -- think films like All the President's Men and Three Days of the Condor -- where the "action," such as it is, chiefly involves government (or government-adjacent) guys in suits talking, scheming and plotting instead of running around firing off their guns. In fact, the film's central hero, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck, handing himself the starring role as he did in The Town two years ago) never wields a firearm once during the course of the movie, even when he's in the most desperate of circumstances. He's on a mission where stealth matters more than a show of action movie strength.

The Book of Alien: In Space, No One Can See You Read

After months of tantalizing teasers and trailers (and teasers for teasers and trailers for trailers) for Ridley Scott's new science-fiction film Prometheus, the unofficial (or, rather, officially unofficial) precursor to his iconic 1979 Alien is finally just over a week away from its U.S. opening. And aside from rewatching the other movies (except the dreadful, embarrassing Aliens vs. Predators and its follow-up), we can think of no better way to both pass the time and get even more pumped than by perusing The Book of Alien, released today by Titan Books. Originally published in '79 as an official tie-in to the first movie, this slim but oversized tome written by Michael Gross and Paul Scanlon eschews hyperbole for a journalistic (albeit authorized by the studio) narrative about the conception and creation of a future classic -- a status that nobody interviewed within its pages could've anticipated at the time. If you care at all about Alien, or are simply curious about Prometheus, here's why it's worth a look:

The Five Best Essays in Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion

From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Cabin in the Woods, writer/director Joss Whedon doesn't just create entertainment that can be enjoyed in the moment -- it can also be discussed and analyzed for years after its finished its television or theatrical run. Case in point: Titan Books' newly released Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion, a weighty compendium of short retrospective pieces (every section begins with a "Joss Whedon 101" to the particular work at hand), academic essays and interviews with such collaborators as actor Alexis Denisof and writers Jane Espenson and Tim Minear. Collected by the pop cultural survey site PopMatters, the pieces included in this tome span Whedon's entire career from the small screen to the big screen to the four-color pages of comic books. As with all anthologies, not every entry here is a winner. Some essays cross the line from admiring to flat-out hagiography, while others offer rote summary in place of interesting analysis. But combing through the book, we found five essays that are definitely worth a read. Check out our picks below and click here to order the book for your own personal Whedon library.

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