Tag Archive: carey mulligan


Seventeen years ago Baz Luhrmann achieved major success with his updated version of Romeo + Juliet, a film in which he combined the old language of Shakespeare with a modern setting. The film was also responsible for thrusting a young Leonardo DiCaprio into the limelight. Now, in 2013, Luhrmann and DiCaprio reunite for a new take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel, The Great Gatsby, once more combining Fitzgerald’s classic literature with current hip-hop music by the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce.

While Gatsby (DiCaprio) himself remains an unknown presence throughout the first act of the film it is down to Tobey Maguire, as Nick Carraway, to draw the audience into the story and hook their attention. Nick is introduced at the beginning of the film but at the end of his story; he is depressed alcoholic staying in a sanitarium to rid himself of his alcohol addiction and recounting the tale of one man who changed his life, Jay Gatsby.

After a slow start, primarily used to introduce the main characters of the story, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Daisy (Carey Mulligan), who also happens to be Nick’s cousin. Once the introductions are over, however, Luhrmann takes his audience on a rip riding roller coaster full of sex and alcohol. Everything in the first act is pumped up to the max and overstated in a way that only Lurhmann could get away with. The parties are on a huge landscape, such large sets crowded with the entire population of New York City. Hearing all of the party goers talk about the mystery surrounding Gatsby just makes the character more compelling, a wonderful thing for a character not yet seen on screen.

The stories of being a German prince and mercenary are quickly put to rest when Gatsby is finally revealed. And DiCaprio keeps draws you in, forcing you to feel interested and even sympathetic at times for a man you know nothing about. His interest and sudden friendship with Nick Carraway stinks of suspicion and all of his private phone calls provoke you to ask more and more questions. Soon enough, Gatsby’s ulterior motive is revealed and the movie begins to take more twists and turns that an Argentine Tango.

Layers and layers are ripped away from Gatsby’s tragic character, wonderfully portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in a role that has to be seen. He begins at the level of very good and only continues to rise; the third act is a stand out piece of acting alone.

It may seem strange to lace a film set in the 1920s with modern hip-hop from some of music’s biggest stars but the contrast does not distract from the viewing experience at all. Lurhmann does not set out to accurately present a vision of the 1920s, this is a story for all time. A huge theme of The Great Gatsby is the idea of the boom that comes before a fall and in times of such austerity with the global financial crisis it seems the lesson is just as important now as it was back then.

This isn’t a Leonardo DiCaprio film nor is it a Tobey Maguire film, despite this being the best performance I have ever seen him put in. Gatsby, at it’s very core, is all about Baz Lurhmann, the technicalities of his directorship, the grand set designs, the striking colour pallet, everything screams Lurhmann. He brings Jay Gatsby to life in a way that only he could and he doesn’t disappoint.

My Rating: 8/10.

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The Appeal of Emma Stone

Born Emily Jean Stone the young actress took on the name Emma when registering with the Screen Actors Guild due to there already being an Emily Stone registered. That’s a nice little fact not many people will be too aware of. Anyway, Emma Stone is just one of a new wave of actresses who are currently winning critics over and gaining fans with every performance they put in. In this category I place Stone with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan among others. But there is something different that sets Emma Stone apart from the rest; she has a very distinct and intriguing appeal.

Emma Stone got her first leading role in 2010’s Easy A, a film which focusses on the novel A Scarlet Letter and parallels that with the main character’s life: Olive, played by Emma Stone. I believe that Stone’s performance here is a clear example of just what a wonderful actress she is to watch. Olive is caught up in a web of lies after just trying to shut her friend up by telling her that she has lost her virginity, when in fact she has not. All of this gets out of hand and pretty much ruins Olive’s life. But the way the story is told is from Olive’s first person perspective, already giving us Stone’s narration. As well as this the film uses the narrative device of Stone talking into her webcam (which becomes the screen). This makes Stone’s performance just seem incredibly relaxed and natural and allowing the audience to see her in this way brings us a lot closer to the character and, in effect, Emma Stone herself. Her performance is full of vibrancy and sarcastic humour, outshone only by the frankly quite incredible Stanley Tucci.

Before Stone’s Golden Globe nominated performance in Easy A she was already making a name for herself in the comedy genre. Stone’s first film role was in Superbad, a film that began a new era of comedy films. After Superbad she appeared in a few, shall we say interesting films: The Rocker, The House Bunny and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (but let’s not judge her) before getting back on the right track with Zombieland. Also worth noting, Stone actually auditioned for the role of Claire Bennett in Heroes but obviously lost out to Hayden Panettiere who really impressed casting directors: I would have much preferred to have seen Stone in the role though. But anyway…

Emma Stone’s career has continued to go from strength to strength and she has proven that she is not just a one trick pony, despite being more than comfortable and one of the funniest women in comedy film at the minute. She had supporting roles in Friends With Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love (where she would work with Ryan Gosling for the first of quite a few times over the next couple of years) before joining The Help. The Help features an ensemble cast of actresses, not one of whom puts a foot wrong in terms of their performance here. Stone joins the likes of Jessica Chastain (another relatively new actress who is just exceptional at her craft), Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Viola Davis. Stone’s performance helped The Help win many nomination and awards for it’s cast’s performances.

With The Amazing Spider-Man, Emma Stone became the latest actress to join the superhero film genre. However, unlike the latest incarnations of Pepper Potts, Lois Lane and Rachel Dawes we have seen, Stone’s Gwen Stacy was not the typical damsel in distress as she could more than hold her own; standing up to Flash, being incredible stubborn in an attempt to save New York that could have seen her killed as well as smacking The Lizard over the head during a fight with Spider-Man. Then Stone joined a much more testosterone fuelled ensemble in Gangster Squad, joining Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie. She recently lent her voice to the prehistoric animation film from DreamWorks: The Croods.

I think you would have to go a long way to find any young actress working today with the combination of talent and on screen charisma that Emma Stone has. She has a wonderful presence on screen with a beautiful charm about her and her career shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Next year will see her reprise her role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while Birdman (from the director of 21 Grams and Babel) is in pre-production. She is also signed on to star in Guillermo Del Toro’s exciting Crimson Peak which is snapping up a superb cast in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain.

Hopefully we will get to see Emma Stone taking the lead in more and more films over the next few years but for now I am happy enough seeing her play supporting roles if she continues to be as good as she is right now!

The Best Actresses Under 30

There seems to be a real buzz around a lot of young actresses in Hollywood at the minute and I think that this is a good thing because I think really talented actresses have been hard to come by over the last decade or so. Here are, in my opinion, the most talented actresses working today under the age of 30.

 

8. Dakota Fanning

At only 18 years old Dakota Fanning has been acting for as long as she has been alive pretty much and for years has been talked about as a great young prospect in Hollywood. Having appeared in films such as Man On Fire, War of the Worlds, Push, Coraline and the Twilight series it is easy to see why.

 

7. Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson is probably the biggest name on this list. Having really burst onto the scene in 2003 with Lost In Translation she has gone on to appear in a number of high profile films such as The Prestige, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Iron Man 2 and the third highest grossing film of all time The Avengers.

 

6. Anna Kendrick

Kendrick’s schedule is pretty packed right now with a huge number of projects in the pipeline for this year and the next despite a slow start to her acting career. She has appeared alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in comedy drama 50/50 and alongside George Clooney in the 2009 Oscar nominated Up in the Air.

 

5. Emma Watson

Everyone on the planet can recognise Emma Watson although she is probably best known as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter franchise. She is moving away from that image with something completely different later this year in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and next year’s The Bling Ring.

 

4. Chloe Moretz

At only 15 years old Chloe Moretz is sure to be a star of Hollywood for many years to come. She achieved unanimous praise for her role as Hit Girl in Kick-Ass and went on to appear in (500) Days of Summer, Let Me In and Hugo.

 

3. Emma Stone

Stone is currently appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man as Peter Parker’s love interest, Gwen Stacy. Since making her film debut in Superbad she has had starring roles in Crazy Stupid Love and Easy A as well as a supporting role in The Help and will soon be appearing in The Gangster Squad in which she looks fantastic.

 

2. Jennifer Lawrence

Soon to be one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood Lawrence is currently a star of the new X-men franchise as well as heading up The Hunger Games trilogy. She is one of the youngest women to ever be nominated for the Best Leading Actress Oscar for her performance in Winter’s Bone. She has proven in the short time since bursting on to the scene that she has a large range of skills and is a very versatile actress.

 

1. Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan is a 27 year old English actress who has been the subject of critical acclaim in every field of acting; film, television and broadway. Mulligan first appeared in Pride & Prejudice before going on to appear in a number of television programmes. She has appeared in films such as Never Let Me Go, Brothers, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Public Enemies. I recently saw Mulligan in Drive where she put in a really great performance but it was in An Education where I first saw her and where many other film watchers really took notice of her. An Education is a wonderful British film and Mulligan puts in a golden performance and was rightly nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her performance as well as winning a BAFTA. Carey Mulligan definitely has a huge career ahead of her.

 

Here we go; I hold the controversial opinion that Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is ridiculously over rated and really quite a boring film. Taxi Driver is commonly thought of as one of the greatest films of all time but its not something I agree with. I recently got round to watching Drive starring Ryan Gosling and I couldn’t help but notice a few similarities between the two.

Both films centre on a man who’s job revolves around driving: Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle is a former marine who served in Vietnam but comes back to New York and takes up a job as a taxi driver, hence the name of the film; Drive‘s Driver, portrayed by Gosling, is a movie stunt double who moonlights as a driver in the criminal underworld. While both characters come from different backgrounds and are of different mental stabilities they are both loners at heart and form a relationship with a woman in the film.

For a large majority of both films not a lot actually happens. The first half of Taxi Driver and Drive both try to build character with not much action. When I was watching Taxi Driver I thought that it was at its best when it was doing this, we were following Travis around on his various journeys getting to know the man behind the wheel before the much anticipated shoot out at the end. Drive introduces us to the Driver’s world straight away and for the first half an hour there is very little dialogue but the audience still get a sense of character. Because of the lack of action at the beginning of both films they rely on the character and the actors’ portrayal of their characters and fortunately this works well for both films; Ryan Gosling had a great year in 2011 and Drive is a fantastic performance of his, while Robert De Niro is flawless as Travis Bickle.

So up to the halfway point both films are very similar and then something happens which, for me, makes Drive a much better film than Taxi Driver. About halfway through Taxi Driver (maybe later but I haven’t seen it for a while so I forget) loses all sense of direction and seems to have no idea where it is going. Suddenly, Travis Bickle outrightly becomes the psychopath he is remembered for but I feel as though this comes from nowhere. Taxi Driver forgets its narrative arc and throws its plot out of the window in my opinion.

Drive steps it up a gear as it enters its final act; the action feels real, the Driver’s motivation feels real. The whole film makes sense in terms of its narrative. In the beginning Drive sets off on its travels and, at the end, reaches its destination, the same can’t be said for Taxi Driver. Gosling’s Driver’s motivations are obvious and relatable, his journey is a complete arc and his actions are emotionally fuelled. Drive is a blood pumping film; the action is well spaced throughout the film and at times catches the audience off guard, tricking the audience into thinking they will see one thing but they see another.

In my opinion, Drive and Taxi Driver are similar films and anyone that has seen both of them can notice why similarities may be drawn. I do believe that Drive is a much better film to watch and be entertained by. Where Taxi Driver offers a depiction of breakdown of society or mental state, Drive sticks to filmic conventions and offers up an enjoyable treat which does not become boring by any stretch of the imagination.

Given the choice, I’d be watching Drive every time.

The Great Gatsby Trailer

UK Release Date: 26th December 2012.

And so it begins again. This is our first look at one of two films released around Christmas featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as he goes after that Oscar that has eluded him time and time again. The Great Gatsby is probably the lesser anticipated of the two (the other being Django Unchained) but it is the first to show its trailer to audiences and has stirred a lot of interest.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby; a young, mysterious millionaire who has shady business connections and an obsessive love for Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbour, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.

The cast features several big names. Tobey Maguire is very hit and miss as far as I’m concerned but working with a close friend of his in DiCaprio may bring out the best in him. Leonardo DiCaprio himself has been one of the most consistent performers of recent years and has proven his brilliance over and over showing that he really has got better with age. Carey Mulligan is DiCaprio’s love interest and there is a lot of hype around the young actress earning rave reviews for her performances in An Education (great film by the way) and Shame.

Baz Luhrmann is at the helm as director and reunites with Leonardo DiCaprio after directing him in one of his very first film roles Romeo & Juliet. Luhrmann’s turns as director have been few and far between over the years but when he directs it is met with success; Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Australia.

The Great Gatsby looks great from this trailer. It doesn’t give too much of the plot away but does its job in building up the lifestyle of the mysterious title character and giving us a little insight into his world. The film looks stylish and the actors look great. It has to get the critics drooling surely.

Keira Knightley: A British Star

Keira Knightley seems to have been around for a lot longer than she actually has. In fact, the English actress is still just twenty seven years old and along with Carey Mulligan and Gemma Arterton, she spearheads the representation of young, talented British actresses working in Hollywood.

Before becoming the big film star that she is today, Keira Knightley cut her teeth in television. As a child she had small roles in several episodes of television shows, including British institution The Bill. It is not common knowledge, but at just 14 years old Knightley appeared in the heavily criticised Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Despite the commercial success, it would take another couple of years for Keira to land the role that would launch her career.

After appearing in television series Oliver Twist, she made a couple more films specifically for television before showing up in the psychological thriller The Hole alongside Thora Birch. 2002 was the year that really kick started Knightley’s career. She picked up a role in a film centring around a young female Sikh’s rebellion against her parents as she joins a women’s football (or soccer) team; the film, of course, is the brilliant Bend It Like Beckham. This was a brilliant performance by the young Keira Knightley and really raised her profile within the film industry.

Keira Knightley is a brilliant English actress. Orlando Bloom is just English.

In 2003 Keira Knightley became the new Hollywood ‘It’ girl with the lead female role in smash hit Pirate of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (the best of the Pirates films) as Elizabeth Swann. Knightley put in a great performance in Curse of the Black Pearl and you can tell how good it is by the fact that she actually manages to make Orlando Bloom look like a half decent actor too. The Pirates franchise made Knightley well known to Hollywood audiences and she went on to star in the next two films in the series as well.

After breaking Hollywood Knightley appeared in British romantic comedy Love Actually alongside a whole host of British stars including Emma Thomspon and Hugh Grant. Unfortunately, her career seemed to stall after this (aside from the Pirates films) as she starred in King Arthur, Domino and The Jacket; all of which were flops with critics and audiences.

After failing to impress as an ‘action chick’ Keira Knightley moved into a genre that most audiences now would associate her with: the period drama. In 2005, Knightley portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice for which she was awarded her only Oscar nomination to date. Knightley continued to impress in this area with Silk, Atonement, The Edge of Love and The Duchess. Atonement saw Knightley nominated for a Golden Globe and a Bafta for her performance and left many critics puzzled as to why she had not been nominated for an Oscar as well.

Knightley gives one of her best performances in The Duchess.

In 2010, Keira Knightley appeared alongside other bright British talents Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield for Never Let Me Go. She then went on to appear in Last Night and then London Boulevard which teamed her up with one of the most hot and cold actors of our time, Colin Farrell. She was most recently seen on cinema screens in A Dangerous Method with Viggo Mortensen and the brilliant Michael Fassbender which details the birth of psychoanalysis from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s friendship.

I think that Keira Knightley is one of the best young actresses that England has produced over recent years. And despite the fact she gets acclaim for a large majority of her performances it seems like she is forgotten when she doesn’t have a film out and so is very hard done by. She is certainly a talented actress and I think it’s great that she continues to make British films and resisting the lure of big budget Hollywood blockbusters.

Simple maths... DiCaprio + Scorsese = Brilliance.

It has been reported that Leonardo DiCaprio is set to reunite with Martin Scorsese for the fifth time in his career. The film, this time, is a drama named The Wolf of Wall Street.

The film is based on the memoirs of white collar criminal and motivational speaker Jordan Belfort. DiCaprio is being tipped to play the “hard partying, drug addicted stockbroker” who served time in prison for security fraud and money laundering.

DiCaprio and Scorsese have previously worked together on Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island resulting in brilliant films every time. This is what we have come to expect when one of the world’s best directors teams up with one of the world’s leading actors and the same will be expected of The Wolf of Wall Street as it’s release gets closer.

Leonardo DiCaprio last starred in J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood, in hope for Oscar recognition but his performance fell short and the film whilst still received well, did not do as well as had been hoped.

With two films scheduled for released in December 2012 it seems likely that Dicaprio will gain another Oscar nomination considering that both films are prime Oscar-bait. One of them, The Great Gatsby, also stars the brilliant Carey Muligan and is being directed by Baz Luhrmann. The second, and the one with the most hype surrounding it’s release, is Django Unchained. This is Quentin Tarantino’s latest project and stars DiCaprio as the villain. With Tarantino’s last film, Inglorious Bastards, gaining Christoph Waltz an Oscar DiCaprio will be hoping for the same to happen to him.