Edelstein on "Great Gatsby," "Star Trek Into Darkness"

(CBS News) Much-anticipated movies about the past and the future are in our critic David Edelstein's sights this morning:


A bunch of fictional old friends are back at the movies, which is good news and scary news -- because they're precious. You don't want them violated.

Consider Jay Gatsby, of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," one of America's most influential novels -- now in the hands of the Aussie Baz Luhrmann, whose "Moulin Rouge!" was such a senseless bombardment, for the first time in my life I was GRATEFUL when someone's cell phone rang.

His "Gatsby" is a bombardment, too, but Fitzgerald comes through. For all its polish, the book has a healthy American vulgarity that the genteel 1974 film with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow didn't get.

But Luhrmann throws money at the screen in a way that's positively Gatsby-like. He wallops you with the theme of prodigal waste. It's all ham-handed, yet it brings to mind the great, unfettered imagery of silent movies.

A scene from Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby."
Warner Brothers

Leonardo DiCaprio is a good Gatsby -- healthy-looking for my taste, but moving. He was the most grown-up of juveniles, and is now the most youthful of grown-ups.

As the poor boy-turned-rich man longing for Daisy, the girl he couldn't have, he makes you believe that HE believes you can recapture the past.

Inside "The Great Gatsby": Director Baz Luhrmann, wife Catherine Martin talk film's circus-like vision
Watch: DiCaprio, Mulligan, Maguire talk "The Great Gatsby"
How F. Scott Fitzgerald's Saturday Evening Post success helped "Gatsby" vision come to life
"The Great Gatsby" reviews are not so "great"

I'm almost more protective of "Star Trek," and I'm not a Trekkie -- although snobs like me always say, "I'm not a Trekkie, but . . . "

"Star Trek Into Darkness" is the second film by director J.J. Abrams with the same bunch of actors playing Kirk, Spock, and the rest. And to be honest, they're so young and tender-skinned they remind me of the "Baby Looney Tunes."

The movie invokes the best of all the "Star Trek" entities: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," with Ricardo Montalban (and those pecs!). "Star Trek Into Darkness" is nowhere near as good, but it plays entertainingly with the same themes.

It has a different but chilling Khan in Benedict Cumberbatch, the amazing, modern BBC "Sherlock Holmes," with those far-apart eyes that make him look like he has double the peripheral vision of ordinary mortals.

Like "Gatsby," it's a bombardment, but it bombarded me into happiness.

You can't, as Jay Gatsby maintains, recapture the past. But at "Star Trek Into Darkness," you can go back and alter the timeline. Which is really cool!

Watch: "Star Trek Into Darkness" premieres in Australia

The U.S.S. Enterprise is back (with lens flares!) in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek Into Darkness."
Paramount Pictures


Edelstein endorses:

  • "Pain & Gain" -- "[Michael Bay] hits new levels of both artistry and sleaziness in the black comedy 'Pain & Gain,' which I strongly recommend if you don't overvalue taste, subtlety, and moral decency."
  • "What Maisie Knew," adapted from the Henry James novel -- "The film is wrenching . . . and subtle enough in its portrait of the four major grown-up characters to qualify as Jamesian."


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