It’s likely the most talked about movie since The Hunger Games–at least it is in the FITNESS office. And one of the perks of working here is getting the chance to see movies before they hit theaters. So on Tuesday night I made my way to the Ziegfeld theater in NYC, popped on my 3-D shades and was transported into one of the most beloved stories in American literature. If that’s not reason enough for you to go see The Great Gatsby, here are five more:
1. Leonardo Dicaprio. The man has been making our hearts flutter since Romeo + Juliet, and we swear he just gets better (acting-wise and come on, looks-wise) with age. If you didn’t know, Baz Luhrmann, the director of Gatsby, worked with Leo way back then on R+J. Once we watched him on screen, we saw exactly why Luhrmann wanted to collaborate with the actor again: love or hate him, Leo was the perfect guy to play the complicated role of Jay Gatsby. The love, confidence and desperation of his character all seep through, and he had us chastising Daisy Buchanan for her crazy amounts of indecision.
2. Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway) and Leonardo Dicaprio (Jay Gatsby)’s bromance. It’s real, both on and off-screen. We can’t get enough of it.
3. The fashion. This period wasn’t called the Roaring 20s for nothing. It was the tip of the iceberg for women exploring new dress lengths (short, short, short!), hairstyles and lots of sparkle—and you know we love sparkle. Fun fact: costume designer Catherine Martin worked with Brooks Brothers for many of the male costumes—think 2,000 garments + 200 tuxedos—who actually sold clothing to Fitzgerald back in the day.
4. Isla Fisher and Carey Mulligan. Our May cover girl plays Myrtle, Tom Buchanan’s mistress who lives in the Valley of Ashes and wants the glamorous life. Although her role is small, Fisher knows how to make a big impact. Mulligan takes on the iconic role of Daisy Buchanan, and delivers flawlessly. The woman knows how to be alluring, and we love that she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. What we don’t love: Daisy’s inability to make a decision and stick with it. Just watch the movie and you’ll see what we mean.
5. The music. Just as he did in R+J, Luhrmann took Gatsby, a very classic story, and blended it with contemporary music. Now we’ll admit, this is the part we were most skeptical about. Sure, we love blasting Jay-Z, Florence + The Machine and Lana Del Rey during our workouts, but would it work in a movie set in the 20s? Surprisingly, it does. In fact, we say it’s what makes the movie that much better. Bringing contemporary beats to the party scenes helped us make a connection with all of the characters and the fun they were having. Think about it: if you were ready to get your dance on tonight, would you blast music from the 20s and feel jazzed; ready to rock? We didn’t think so. This blend of eras made the story more relatable so we could really be immersed in the story. Smart move, Luhrmann. Smart move.
At the beginning of the year, many staffers made the resolution to read more in 2013. While statistics show that most resolutions fall by the wayside by the end of January, we’re determined to stick with this one! Reading during a commute to work (bonus of public transportation!) and unplugging from technology for a few hours before bed has allowed me to not only unwind after a busy day, but sleep better and prep for tomorrow.
The only downside? When you get a really good read in your hands, it’s so hard to put down! That’s what happened when Jodi Picoult’s latest title, The Storyteller, landed on my desk. Here at FITNESS, we like to get lost in the story of a strong female protagonist, and Picoult gives us just that with Sage Singer, a baker who’s trying to escape a reality of loneliness and the emotional scarring her mother’s death has left behind.
At her grief group, Sage meets Josef Weber, an elderly gentleman who seems to be the nicest guy in town. Before long she’s confiding in him, telling her own stories and developing a friendship. Unfortunately, Josef’s befriended her for a reason – he asks her for a huge favor; one that will make him feel better about being a Nazi who worked at one of the worst concentration camps known to man. Yup, he was at Auschwitz.
Not only do we watch as Sage develops her own confidence, but the story bounces back to that of her grandmother’s – a survivor of Auschwitz. In her soul lies true strength, love and determination to get out alive, even while her family and loved ones are falling victim to the Holocaust left and right.
And of course, we can’t have a page-turner without a love interest, right? Don’t worry, Picoult delivers when Leo Stein enters the picture. I won’t reveal how or why he’s there, but he definitely provides relief in an otherwise intense novel, and satisfies those of us craving some romance.
If you’re a fan of books surrounding World War II and the Holocaust, this is definitely one for you. Picoult manages to be searingly honest in her portrayal of each character, yet delicately explores what people will do in order to protect family and not repeat the mistakes of our nation’s history.
Now you tell us: What books are at the top of your 2013 must-read list?
Allison, who has written for FITNESS about why she runs, hits her stride in her third novel—about Nell, a woman who lost her memory in a plane crash and must piece together who she is from unreliable sources: her husband, mother and sister, all of whom have their own versions of her history and agendas for her future.
Fast-paced and poignant, it’s my favorite sort of story—when a character lingers in my mind after I’ve finished it.