House Logo
Explore categories +

Baz Luhrmann (#110 of 12)

Oscar Prospects The Great Gatsby, Young, Beautiful, and All Dressed Up for Eye-Candy Wins

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar Prospects: The Great Gatsby, Young, Beautiful, and All Dressed Up for Eye-Candy Wins
Oscar Prospects: The Great Gatsby, Young, Beautiful, and All Dressed Up for Eye-Candy Wins

Even more than Foreign Language Film, the category of Original Song is Oscar’s most fickle, rewarding Three 6 Mafia over Dolly Parton one year (2005), crowning a track from a documentary the next (2006), and, just two years ago, screwing over songs from every film save Rio and The Muppets. Last year, Adele’s titular, crossover ballad from Skyfall scored a somewhat sanity-restoring win, becoming the first James Bond theme to ever claim the trophy, and standing as the most popular victor in the field since Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” from 2002’s 8 Mile. While no one will ever be able to explain away the stupidity of 2011’s two-tune lineup, one of the things that makes this category so tricky, particularly in the guessing-game stages, are the many stringent nuances of song eligibility. Does the track start early enough during its movie’s closing credits? Does it have a sliver of previously released material that might taint its “originality?” So layered are these oft-excessive provisos that many Oscar pundits won’t even bother making their predictions until the Academy announces its official list of potential candidates (you’ll notice Original Song is one of the few categories not yet accounted for over at tracker site Gold Derby). But if there’s a single song that stands out with anything close to the in-the-bag ubiquity of Adele’s triumph, it’s Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful,” the wistful love theme from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

Arms Outstretched Too Far: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby

Comments Comments (...)

Arms Outstretched Too Far: Baz Luhrmann’s <em>The Great Gatsby</em>
Arms Outstretched Too Far: Baz Luhrmann’s <em>The Great Gatsby</em>

If there’s a single scene that speaks volumes in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, it’s the one that unfolds just before Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) finally reunites with Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) at the home of Daisy’s cousin, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the prep for this reunion, which has been five years coming, is as modest as Nick’s digs, with Gatsby, the man next door with the castle-like manse, simply insisting that Nick cut his unkempt grass. In Luhrmann’s incarnation, Gatsby pulls out all the stops, not just having his neighbor’s lawn mowed, but planting gardens, installing fountains, and packing Nick’s parlor with so many flowers and pastries there’s barely room to sit down. On a comedic level, the scene works beautifully, reflecting the lovestruck unease that’s as outsized as everything else in Gatsby’s life, and it’s followed by a wistful glance between Daisy and Gatsby that hits you just as it should—like a firm, shocking punch of yearning and rehashed memories. But it’s also plainly indicative of Luhrmann’s bombastic technique, which involves taking Gatsby’s famed grandiloquence and spinning it into a stylistic hurricane. Surely everyone knew that Luhrmann would go all carnivalesque in playing up Fitzgerald’s decadent party scenes, but not even those glitzy trailers can prepare you for just how loud and large this vision is—a frantic spectacle that tosses off restraint as heedlessly as Gatsby hurls his shirts over a balcony at Daisy, showering her with an expensive cascade of pastels.

Hot Soundtrack: The Great Gatsby

Comments Comments (...)

Hot Soundtrack: The Great Gatsby
Hot Soundtrack: The Great Gatsby

However enticing the movie itself may be, the commercialism of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby has been oppressive, to say the least. We’ve already discussed the film’s preposterous glut of posters (which, for the record, has ballooned even larger since), and if you walk through Manhattan, you’ll see that the movie has caused the Deco gleam of the Chrysler Building to spread out all over, from subway-stair video ads to Brooks Brothers stores, which have devoted full windows and products to the promotion of Gatsby’s 1920’s style. It’s a whole lotta marketing, but one part of it that’s hardly off-putting is the film’s carefully constructed soundtrack, which is brimming with an embarrassment of aural riches, and is easily the most anticipated album of its kind in years.

Executive produced by Jay-Z (who also holds a producing credit for the film), the Gatsby soundtrack seems, on the whole, to be an extraordinary melding of vintage and contemporary sounds, fulfilling Jay-Z and Luhrmann’s goal to “translate Jazz Age sensibilities” into something that can speak to, and enchant, the modern listener. The undertaking is far more involved than one might think, as the hip-hop mogul and the Australian auteur toiled away for two years, nailing down a tone and compiling an illustrious roster of artists, whose styles range from alt-rock to urban, but are all huddled beneath the unifying umbrella of the Roaring Twenties theme.

Poster Lab: The Great Gatsby

Comments Comments (...)

Poster Lab: The Great Gatsby
Poster Lab: The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann really dropped the boomerang with 2008’s Australia, an ill-fated attempt to resurrect and pay homage to sweeping Hollywood epics of old. Yet, the maestro’s latest effort, a glistening, 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby, looks plenty poised to right Luhrmann’s wrongs.

The movie seems to be both class act and sensory smorgasbord, given the early stills, which depict a more-handsome-then-ever Leo DiCaprio as the lead, and the latest champagne soiree of a trailer, which, beyond glamor and intrigue, teases three exclusive new tracks from Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, and Florence and the Machine. (Even the initial news of Carey Mulligan’s casting as Daisy Buchanan, as reported three years ago by Deadline.com, was deliriously chic and enticing: “Mulligan was on the reception line for The Fashion Council Awards in New York when she got the call on her cellphone from Luhrmann. She burst into tears on the red carpet in front of Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour.”) Yes, everything about the project emits pizazz and panache—everything, that is, except its movie poster campaign.

Poster Lab: Anna Karenina

Comments Comments (...)

Poster Lab: <em>Anna Karenina</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Anna Karenina</em>

How to sell a Keira Knightley period romance and still distinguish it from every other Keira Knightley period romance? For Focus Features’ Anna Karenina, the answer is proudly touting spectacle while employing markedly modern embellishments. The eighth major screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, and the fifth film from hit-or-miss Brit Joe Wright, this spare-no-expense movie wears its grandiosity on its ruffled sleeve, as the recently released trailer certainly attests.

The poster is at once overstuffed, dazzling, tacky, evocative, arrogant, and perfect. Like a shot of an antique shop raided by the royal court and Chris Van Allsburg, it blends opulent production design with near-absurdist block font, which serves to communicate the clout of the story, its endurance in modern times, a diva sensibility, and even the wintry Russia setting, reflected in the gleam of those imposing, towering letters. Positioning its elements on a glitzy stage to boot, the image promises precisely what the trailer does in all those shots of swirling sparks and beating fans: a slick and swoony costume drama of almost goofy proportions.