May 7, 2013

"Gatsby feels like a well-rehearsed classic in which the actors say their lines ably..."

"... but with no discernible feeling behind them."

ADDED: Rotten Tomatoes shows 38% good reviews.

33 comments:

traditionalguy said...

It's the digital age.

And what is a "feeling" anyway?

The trailers seem to act the parts with Cherry Orchard like acceptance of the coming end of American prosperity.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The horrible, horrible tragedy of it all is that the young Robert Redford would have made it shine.

Darrell said...

That Rap music is a nice touch. That'll draw the yoots right in.

BarrySanders20 said...

Characters saying lines without emotion is the same reaction I had when I read the book in ninth grade circa 1983 or so. So the movie sounds true to the book to my 14 year old self.

rhhardin said...

It sounds like it's like the novel. Long, assigned and pointless.

Tank said...

Long?

traditionalguy said...

Gatsby at 16 seems a strange useless read. Gatsby at 56 is a cogent and near perfect analysis of the world we all must live and love in.

betamax3000 said...

Edited for brevity (!), notes from a previously unpublished comment I mentioned in yesterday's thread: much of the Fitzgerald sentences detail clothing, trappings of luxury, furniture, etc, with the vibrancy of a commercial -- or a luxe fashion magazine ad.

Gatsby has pervaded our Culture not through the book itself (until the version translated into Text-Speak comes), but through advertising.

For instance, this sentence: ""cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes". It is easy to picture the Vogue spread this describes, the Models for such pieces seem to exemplify "impersonal eyes."

And it is not hard to picture a Vogue Spread when "Gatsby" fashion has been recycled for decades. Ralph Lauren has made a career -- and a Brand -- out of marketing Gatsby as a clothing style / lifestyle. This started when he did the clothing for the 70s film version of Gatsby. There is a Vogue article from 2012 about this, which used Gatsby as touchstone divorced from any literary meaning of the source.

A generation later, Tommy Hilfiger does the same thing, fashion-Gatsby-wise. His ads often have a 70's vibe about them, making it seem his Gatsby fixation is a once-removed take from Lauren's movie's fashions. To my eye his ads are staged like a typical Wes Anderson tableaux, the details of which 'look' like what Fitzgerald 'describes'.

We have been continually exposed to Gatsby as a high-life style, removed from any connection with the actual book: we don't read it, we wear it. Twice-removed, as it were -- the "absence of all desire."

Another connection: the new Baz L. movie version was partially filmed in Hilfiger's penthouse in New York - the above circle feeding on itself.

The HipHop Conspicuous Consumption Lifestyle can be seen as the latest turn of this Wheel, with The Rap/Hip-Hop world of today analogous to the Jazz Age 20's: Art Deco has become Bentleys and Bling.

Jay-Z is doing the music for this new film, and it is not a far stretch to see Jay-Z as a real-life parallel to Gatsby (the character): a self-created persona in the High Life, escaping the rudimentary aspects of his 'previous' life. World War I, Slinging Dope: it is all of the Past. The Now is what you Create about Yourself. Although -- with Jay-Z having met the President -- he is now a part of the Inner Circle that Gatsby himself could not enter. Now IS a different World than the Twenties, after all.

Again, full circle. Jay-Z from his track "Guns & Roses":

Let's go
Post Postatono, Hov' hangin with Bono
U2 can live like Salvatore Ferragamo
And you, too, can cool out poolside at the Delano...

I turned in all my rap chips I'm earning my bachelors
By dating all the models and actresses...

Through rappining and whatever's happening
Roc-a-wear I'm the young black Ralph Lauren.

betamax3000 said...

Point being: who needs to say the words well when you are, in essence, modeling.

betamax3000 said...

Ann:

Gatsby Tag?

traditionalguy said...

Betamax is onto the idea of "Class" in American society' It hides away its aristocratic class impulses, but they must self identify in some way. Gatsby says it all in the phrase, "the rich are different from the rest of us."

Even at Cambridge at Oxford, only a small number of the students can show real class using style alone as their weapon.

It beats using rape, I suppose.

Leland said...

Lines with no discernable feeling behind them? Why I could say that for all Leo D'Caprio movie. Well, he will talk louder and faster for action sequences, but otherwise, he's pretty much the same when people are being shot or when he's in a love scene. Any movie he's in, all I see is Leo D'Caprio. I really wanted to enjoy the "Aviator".

I did like Leo in "Catch Me if you Can". Leo in a role in which he pretends to be something he's not worked out well.

CWJ said...

Two hours and 23 minutes. Ouch. As much as I am looking forward to it, that may be its downfall.

A Barry Lyndon for the two thousand teens.

Matthew Sablan said...

I think I can read Gatsby in two and a half hours.

CWJ said...

betamax3000,

Excellent initial post. There's a lot to be said for your hypothesis.

However, to his credit, Ralph Lauren is more compartmentalized than just Gatsbyware. Chaps, his casual line and purple label his top of the line are both distinctively different than Lauren's mainstream Gatsbyware. Hilfiger is far more one-note in my experience.

edutcher said...

Vinny Bruzzese, take note.

X said...

iow, it's just like the book and the original movie.

mccullough said...

It's a tough book to film since there is so much internal narration by Nick about his perceptions of the other characters. Hard not to do the voice-over, which is dull.

William said...

It's the style and luminosity of the prose that makes Gatsby great. I don't think the plot and characters are especially memorable, but the descriptions of them are. Maybe literary style is best transposed to the screen with flashy special effects and elegant clothes.

ricpic said...

Gatsby at 56 is a cogent and near perfect analysis of the world we all must live and love in.

Totally lost on wunderkind grad-student director Baz Luhrmann.

elkh1 said...

There were an Alan Ladd Gatsby, a Robert Redford Gatsby. Fitzgerald's original was plagiarized and trivialized a zillion times in the last century.

I don't like Redford, he's good looking nevertheless. Mia Farrow was absolutely stunning.

I hate to see movies in which we are told the not-so-hot actors are hot. The current version is starred with not-so-hot actors, it's a no go for me. They are better off re-release the Redford-Farrow version.

Methadras said...

This movie is an ADHD Synethstetics dream.

Balfegor said...

Re: rhhardin:

It sounds like it's like the novel. Long, assigned and pointless.

I recall Gatsby being pretty short for an classroom novel, actually. It's a lot shorter than Moby Dick or Great Expectations at least. It's a pretty brisk read.

creeley23 said...

betamax3000: Excellent comment @ 9:25.

However, how much of this is Gatsby-style versus style-style? I've got the New Yorker on DVDs going back to the twenties and you don't have to wait for the unveling of Gatsby to find the opulent modeling style you describe.

Furthermore, after an initial positive reception Gatsby sank almost without a trace until it was resurrected in the forties -- wiki says because of free paperback copies given to soldiers in WWII.

creeley23 said...

Gatsby at 56 is a cogent and near perfect analysis of the world we all must live and love in.

traditionalguy: YMMV.

Gatsby might be a near perfect analysis of a particular slice of the world -- which I doubt; analysis being one of Fitzgerald's great weaknesses -- but it has almost nothing to do with the world in which I live beyond the most general warnings about hubris and style over substance.

Gatsby makes only slightly more sense to my middle-aged self than to my twenties self.

Astro said...

Should-a cut out that Ouija board scene...

traditionalguy said...

@ Creely...Yes. My POV is from a familiarity with the society that created Bobby Jones and his Masters Golf Club.

Anne Rivers Siddons wrote about us in Peachtree Road and other novels. She is not as brillant as Professor Althouse, but she sure had us pegged.

And Fitzgerald had his age of that sort of rich American folks pegged.

creeley23 said...

tradtionalguy: Try reading "Tender is the Night" -- Fitzgerald's even more labored attempt to create a literary masterpiece after Gatsby -- then "Living Well is the Best Revenge" by Calvin Tomkins which was about the real expatriate couple, Gerald and Sara Murphy, on whom "Tender" was based.

Fitzgerald's portrait of the Murphys in the first section of the book is so close that it is more an invasion of privacy than fiction. Then Fitzgerald puts the Gerald Murphy character on a tragic Freudian/Spenglerian trajectory in order to make Big Statements about Beautiful People and the 20th century, as well as work through his own unresolved issues about Zelda's insanity.

The result is a bewildering mess -- perhaps the oddest classic I've read though not without its strengths. Still, it had little to do with the world it described and much more with Fitzgerald's ambition and pain.

The Murphys were beautiful people as well as Beautiful People. When their son became ill with tuberculosis they folded up their Beautiful People trip in the South of France, and returned to America to take care of their children.

Steve Koch said...

I expect to see something like Moulin Rouge, long on style, beautiful visuals and music, cartoonish wrt character development.

Terry said...

Leland wrote:
Any movie he's in, all I see is Leo D'Caprio.
Same here. Compare his performance in Django Unchained with the performance of Samuel L. Jackson.

creeley23 said...

So the Murphys, although they came from money, corporate power and high society, and were a beautiful couple who attracted the great artists and writers of the Twenties to their villa on the French Riviera, were nonetheless decent folks, lacking the dark, seamy complexity we like to project on the rich and fortunate.

That wouldn't do for Fitzgerald. After using the Murphys in the first section of "Tender is the Night," he essentially chopped the their heads off and substituted his and Zelda's instead, and the book careened into the ugly tragedy of Fitzgerald's failure and Zelda's insanity.

But that's not the Murphys' story. Bad luck did visit the golden couple. Their son became ill with tuberculosis. They returned to the United States. Gerald Murphy gave up the glamorous life and devoted himself to running the family business, the Mark Cross Company.

Murphy had been a promising cubist painter and never painted again. Here's one:

http://whitney.org/Collection/GeraldMurphy/95188

Discovering the story of the Murphys ruined Fitzgerald a bit for me. Althouse's Gatsby Project hasn't helped either.

William said...

The Murphys treated both Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds with overwhelming financial and emotional generosity. They were badly repaid by both for their generosity. But the Murphys lived through greater tragedies than the ingratitude of writers. While nursing the one son with TB, the other son came down with mastoiditis and died. The son with TB died soon thereafter.......The Murphys were wealthy but not opulently so. The financial assistance they extended Hemingway and Fitzgerald was a function of their kindness and not their wealth........Sara Murphy was one of the most beautiful women of her era. Gerald was a talented artist. Wealth, beauty, talent--you would think they would have the inside track to all of life's prizes. Man proposes. God disposes.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The movie looks overstimulating. Why does everything have to go to 11 these days?