I really don’t remember the words or all the story specifics of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, but I know that it is one of the best books I have ever read. So I was looking forward to the very promising Baz Luhrmann adaptation of Gatsby and was more than willing to see his style flow throughout the classical story. Well his style doesn’t really flow throughout the adaption as it sort of drowns Fitzgerald’s story in it. This was the worst-case scenario for letting Luhrmann adapt Gatsby as he uses the novel as an excuse to supplement his need for over the top visuals and dance numbers. I really don’t have a problem with how Baz makes movies as I have enjoyed some of his other works but I think The Great Gatsby is lost in how he makes movies. Not only is it overtly dramatic but the film tries to hard to keep the attention of modern audiences. I get that filmmakers have been successful in adapting stories in there own ways but Baz and Fitzgerald don’t mix. Not only that but the adaption is very poor too as the screenplay decides to dumb down the narrative of the movie with Nick explaining things to a therapist and text from the novel showing up on screen for some awkward moments. The Great Gatsby is more than just an American classic but it is the quintessential story of the American Dream. Baz’s problem is that he doesn’t respect that, as the film gets lost in Jay-Z numbers and a desire to be different. There are some strong performances but all in all this is a deformed version of one of the greatest stories of all time.
Jeff Nichol’s new film, Mud, is a sort of Huck Finn story of a boy learning to love for the first time. Nichol’s last film was a masterpiece and his follow up doesn’t try to top it as it explores different themes and locations. It is a small movie that feels more innocent than his previous works but it also fits into his already impressive catalogue. The main star here is Tye Sheridan who plays a child who has to deal with a new friendship with a mysterious character named Mud (played by Matthew McConaughey). Sheridan carries the weight of the picture as he maybe a child actor to look out for. You also have McConaughey who gives maybe the first Best Actor nominee performance that we have seen so far. He is at his best in Mud because he plays a role that he is comfortable with. Not to say that we have seen him play a character like Mud before but you can tell that he is an actor that was made for this type of part. Nichol’s gets the best from his two leads as the movie pivots on their emotional connection but the best part of the film is how Nichols is able to capture the rural life of Arkansas. I lost myself in the dirty and desolate landscape that feels like a waste of human expectations. The story almost takes a back seat to the locations but it is strong enough to be impactful and full of life. Other than a third act that indulges too much in its action set piece, Mud is a strong American film made by a strong American filmmaker. Nichols continues to impress, as his third picture is a touching look at love lost and found.