Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Great Gatsby - 2013

Continuing on with movies from my Netflix queue!

Back in May I reread 'The Great Gatsby' and reviewed it.  This was somewhat in anticipation of seeing the movie.  Well, now I've seen it and I have a few things to say.  SPOILERS.  Back in May, I thought:
The most winning element of 'Gatsby' is the narration.  I'd read Nick Carraway's thoughts on just about anything.  He's writing here about the Jazz Age, but I'd read his thoughts on the Depression just as readily.  He is compelling and authoritative and always, always interesting.  If the narration wasn't as good, the book would have failed.  If narration of this quality was moved to a different book, that one would have excelled.
And that's really the big problem with filming this.  So much of it hinges on the great internal thoughts Nick, the narrartor.  When I was reading I would stop and rework my way through a paragraph, sometimes just savoring a turn of phrase.  That doesn't work with a movie.
They tried though.  It looks like Baz Luhrmann, the director, tried.  The novel is written after Nick flees the big city back to the small town midwest.  The movie is written from an asylum as a form of therapy.  Nick Carraway is writing down the events so that he can clear his head and stop drinking.  It's a noble effort but it falls short.
The one thing that really does work is when the film focuses on the great parties at the Gatsby mansion.  This isn't surprising as Luhrmann did similar great work in 'Moulin Rouge'.  He can just flat out create a party spectacle.  The music had its moments but didn't do much for me.  Guess I'm not a Jay-Z fan.  The one stand out song was Lana Del Ray's 'Young and Beautiful'.  Gorgeous piece.
I watched this with the FP Gal and she was struck by how much Leo DiCaprio resembled Robert Redford, especially as he played Gatsby back in the 70's.  I haven't seen that version but I could see the resemblence.  For me, I was distracted by a theory I heard that this was a sequel role of sorts, from 'Titanic'.  I guess Jack does survive after all, only to surface on Long Island with heaps of mystery money.  Once I had that in my head, it was tough to shake.
I had high hopes and I was disappointed.  This was just an ok movie.

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