A Great Film Produced by A Few People I Know

I just returned from seeing Gatsby. I have to say that despite a reluctance on my part to go to see this film because of the lukewarm reviews, I ended up absolutely loving it. I don’t even like Leonardo DiCaprio as a rule, but he was perfectly cast as Jay Gatsby and Tobey Maguire played Nick Carraway with a strong sense of tortured goodness. Carrie Mulligan as Daisy continues to dazzle the screen with her nuanced performances (rent The Education if you have not already seen it) and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buckingham had a perfect balance of horrible behavior laced with real feeling. The production design for this opulent film was amazing, as was the set and costume design. I also liked the music which has produced its own controversy, but which served the film well by demonstrating that though the story is set in the 1920’s, it could easily be a modern tale.

It turns out that I know the executive producer, Bruce Berman, and two of the main producers, Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick. I taught their children when they were in 4th grade here in LA at the Center for Early Education and then I worked privately with their kids for several more years as their writing coach. I didn’t know Gatsby was Bruce, Lucy and Doug’s film until the credits rolled. It was a treat to discover that these three people (among a few others) are primarily responsible for this film. Bruce Berman has produced many movies over the years, the most recent of which are Training Day, the “Oceans” trilogy, and Mystic River. Lucy Fisher and Doug Wicker have produced Lawless, Memoirs of a Geisha, Jarhead, and Gladiator, to name only a few. Anyway, it is not everyday that I recognize the people who have produced a film I’ve just seen. So, that made my loving the movie even better.

It will come as no surprise to you then that I heartily recommend going to see Gatsby. It is visually stunning (we saw it in 3D), well acted, and tells a story that holds up after all these years.

But if I had to pick one reason to see this movie, then it would have to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. Leonardo captured the spirit of hope in Jay Gatsby perfectly. For that alone, go see the film.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for the review and recommendation, Len. I saw an older version many years ago with … can’t think of his name (you know, the Sundance Kid?). Can’t wait to see this one now.

    1. Robert Redford played Jay Gatsby in an earlier film. This is a much more opulent production.

  2. sampatron says:

    I probably won’t see this until it’s out on DVD but Leo DiCaprio is always an iffy situation with me. I was never captivated by him early on, like so many people were, but when I (reluctantly) see him in his later roles I’m more impressed than I expect to be. So, a resounding “maybe!” LOL And the Gatsby story itself is a drawing card for me so there’s always that. Thanks for the recommendation. I always believe reviews from people I know more than the professional folks.

    1. Yes, Leonardo as been iffy for me, too, but I will say he was born for this role. He actually looks like a grown up man in this film, which has been long in coming.

  3. Was not planning to see it but perhaps now I will.

    1. I enjoyed it, Juliana. Let me know what you think when you see it!

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