Film review: The Great Gatsby

posted at 2:01 pm on May 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel leaps to life this week in Baz Luhrmann’s frenetic-yet-haunting version of The Great Gatsby.  The classic story of old and new wealth, conspicuous consumption, and the shattering of illusions, myths, and lives has only rarely been tackled by Hollywood (just 5 times, including this version), but it’s practically designed for the big screen. In some ways, it’s the story of Tinseltown itself with its emphasis on excess and its hollowness, although the story is set on the other coast.  And perhaps with knowing irony, this lush version by Luhrmann falls prey to some of the same vices, but it’s impossible to resist despite those flaws, or perhaps even because of them.

Luhrmann’s over-the-top cinematic style seen in Moulin Rouge is much in evidence here, if somewhat more disciplined.  Luhrmann lets loose in the big-budget party scenes that look at times like a flashback to Busby Berkeley musicals, but the music is annoyingly out of synch with the period.  As in Moulin Rouge and perhaps with an eye to the soundtrack sales potential, this 1922 period film sounds an awful lot like 2012′s top dance mixes at times.  That’s obviously a deliberate choice, but the effect (as in Moulin Rouge, although nowhere near as bad) is to pull the audience out of the period.

The pace at the beginning practically throbs in scene cuts, motion, cinematography, and colors that almost appear painted on the screen.  Any scene of driving turns into Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, including one shot of a convertible filled to overflowing with champagne bottles, ice, and barely-clothed women.  Talk about wretched excess. It’s so over-the-top that it’s unclear whether Luhrmann is skewering the Roaring Twenties or himself.

It’s great fun, though, even if somewhat disjointed.  Everything starts to cool down about halfway through the film.  The colors start to decline from Vincent Van Gogh-esque energy to pastels and wood grains, and then down to shadows.  This tracks with the narrative — more on that in a moment — but it has an obvious feel to it.  A bad-boy hotel romp in the beginning looks passionate and exciting despite its corrupting nature; the critical hotel scene at the end looks tired and tawdry despite its ultimately futile attempt at clarity. By the end of the film, the picture looks and feels as exhausted as Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), but perhaps Luhrmann could have trusted the audience with a little more subtlety. As this film and Moulin Rouge prove, however, subtlety is not Luhrmann’s forte, and the result is that one feels as though the film makes its points with a beautifully gilded and bejeweled sledgehammer at times.

The film stays remarkably true to the novel in plot and dialogue while being for large stretches surreal on the screen.  Luhrmann and Craig Pearce stick more closely to source material than most Hollywood productions, but the framing device of Carraway undergoing therapy and authoring the novel is clunky and clichéd.  Otherwise, Fitzgerald’s narrative and characters come to life in the hands of a skilled cast, with one exception — Jordan Baker.  That’s not a criticism of actor Elizabeth Debicki, but of the script; the character disappears almost entirely after her role in roping Nick into helping Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and with it part of the character development of Nick.

DiCaprio shines as the enigmatic Gatsby, whose mystery and corruptions — real and rumored — hide Gatsby’s incorruptible ambition to win Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) back.  Gatsby’s ambition blinds him to the futility of his desire to return to a past that has long since died, but DiCaprio has us believing he might pull it off anyway.  Mulligan gives us a languorous Daisy, whose outward innocence hides her own longtime corruption. Left unspoken is that Gatsby’s entire approach to woo Daisy back practically admits to knowing that corruption, and he misses the chance she offers him for them both to escape it — by running from the trappings of wealth.  Joel Edgerton is a little two-dimensional as the brutish old-money Tom Buchanan, but Isla Fisher does better as his doomed mistress Myrtle.

All in all, this is a film with flaws, but even the flaws are worth watching unfold on the big screen. The 3-D effects are put to good use, although the spectacle will awe audiences in the traditional format, too.  Even when Luhrmann’s style gets a little too heavy-handed, this is a film driven by its story, and The Great Gatsby is one of the most compelling stories written by an American author in and of the 20th century.  It may teeter into wretched excess at times and have its own creeping corruption at others, but Luhrmann’s The Great Gasby is a spectacle that has to be seen and experienced.

The Great Gatsby is rated PG-13, mostly for language and a few non-explicit scenes with sexual content, although there are a couple of episodes of violence.  It’s not for young children, who would probably be bored with the rest of the film anyway.  On my scale below, this is definitely a 5:

  • 5 – Full price ticket
  • 4 – Matinee only
  • 3 – Wait for Blu-Ray/DVD/PPV rental or purchase
  • 2 – Watch it when it hits Netflix/cable
  • 1 – Avoid at all costs

Addendum: The theater we usually frequent just added a descriptive-audio service for the visually handicapped, and this is the first film my wife used it.  The First Mate is totally blind, so normally I explain the visuals of the film when the dialogue isn’t sufficient to keep up.  While there were a few issues with the headset and volume, my wife found this system extremely helpful.  We’re looking forward to using it much more often in the future, and hopefully the option will become ubiquitous.


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Great Gatsby is rated PG-13, mostly for language and a few non-explicit scenes with sexual content, although there is are a couple of episodes of violence

FIFY for you, Ed! : )

VERY neat about the descriptive-audio!

herm2416 on May 12, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Carraway on the couch. Hmm…

steebo77 on May 12, 2013 at 2:11 PM

I don’t think I could imagine a better person to play Gatsby than Leonardo DiCaprio. He seems born to play this role.

vegconservative on May 12, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Yeah, I’ve always dreamed of seeing “Gatsby” in 3-D, with enough CGI to make it look like Spiderman 6, or something.

/s

Bat Chain Puller on May 12, 2013 at 2:17 PM

I was really hoping that this version of “The Great Gatsby” would be so outstanding that it would never, ever be remade again

J_Crater on May 12, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Yeah, I’ve always dreamed of seeing “Gatsby” in 3-D, with enough CGI to make it look like Spiderman 6, or something.

/s

Bat Chain Puller on May 12, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Lol.

Eh, I’ll see it. Something about the book always draws my attention to it.

LaughterJones on May 12, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Rapper music and such…I’m so glad this version flopped.

Schadenfreude on May 12, 2013 at 2:22 PM

The classic story…has only rarely been tackled by Hollywood (just 5 times, including this version).

Five times doesn’t seem so rare to me.

bobs1196 on May 12, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Rapper music and such…I’m so glad this version flopped.

Schadenfreude on May 12, 2013 at 2:22 PM

younger audiences can’t understand a period movie unless you add some current cRap music to it. cuz their that goddamn stupid.

GhoulAid on May 12, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Captain Ed: This is a great musical on Zelda in case you have not seen it in person.

Zelda – A musical based on the life of 1920s American icon Zelda Fitzgerald.

luckybogey on May 12, 2013 at 2:30 PM

the music is annoyingly out of synch with the period

So I’ve heard. For me, that would be not just annoying, but a total spoiler. Think I’ll just watch the 1974 version again, instead.

petefrt on May 12, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Luhrmann’s over-the-top cinematic style seen in Moulin Rouge is much in evidence here, if somewhat more disciplined. Luhrmann lets loose in the big-budget party scenes that look at times like a flashback to Busby Berkeley musicals, but the music is annoyingly out of synch with the period. As in Moulin Rouge and perhaps with an eye to the soundtrack sales potential, this 1922 period film sounds an awful lot like 2012′s top dance mixes at times. That’s obviously a deliberate choice, but the effect (as in Moulin Rouge, although nowhere near as bad) is to pull the audience out of the period.
posted at 2:01 pm on May 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

So…You’re not especially a fan of Postmodern Cinema…eh Ed?

:)

Glad you and the wife enjoyed the show.

I plan to see it anyway…Because Baz Luhrmann is one of the most interesting post modern filmmakers to come along in a while.

Thanks for the review.

workingclass artist on May 12, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Rapper music and such…I’m so glad this version flopped.
Schadenfreude on May 12, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Rap music and a teen-heartthrob (I assume Justin Bieber was too busy to play the lead), now that’s entertainment! Well, as entertaining as having painful root canal work done….

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 2:34 PM

The problem with movie reviews these days is that they obscure, ignore, or downplay the meanings and lessons of the story in favor of focusing on the technicalities of the film.

Couldn’t care less whether DiCaprio or anyone else is perfect for the role. What can I take away from the story?

Assuming it’s a good story, that is. Supposedly, this is one of the all time great American novels. I mean, it’s not Spiderman 3, is it?

Cleombrotus on May 12, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Hollywood… big whoop tee doo.

Hey, did you know that almost no one in Hollywood cares that the politicians they support are hurting your family’s bottom line? But whatever – please go see their movies.

beatcanvas on May 12, 2013 at 2:42 PM

This is a great musical on Zelda in case you have not seen it in person.

luckybogey

Yeah, I use to play Zelda all the time, I never cared for the original sound track……. ;-)

E9RET on May 12, 2013 at 2:43 PM

the music is annoyingly out of synch with the period

So I’ve heard. For me, that would be not just annoying, but a total spoiler. Think I’ll just watch the 1974 version again, instead.

petefrt on May 12, 2013 at 2:31 PM

I haven’t heard the entire soundtrack but some of the swing and be-bop re-makes of recent hits are well done (excluding the rap).

It may be harder to build a connection between the audience and lead characters when their music seems too foreign, whether it’s Bollywood themed or 1920′s swing. People need familiar touchpoints that make it easier to relate to the protagonists.

bayam on May 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Some of e soundtrack is quite good, especially Flirence + the Machine’s Over the Love. Although what they did to Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black I’ll never forgive. They should have just put the original of that in the film, would have fit quite nicely.

The problem with movie reviews these days is that they obscure, ignore, or downplay the meanings and lessons of the story in favor of focusing on the technicalities of the film.

Couldn’t care less whether DiCaprio or anyone else is perfect for the role. What can I take away from the story?

Assuming it’s a good story, that is. Supposedly, this is one of the all time great American novels. I mean, it’s not Spiderman 3, is it?

Cleombrotus on May 12, 2013 at 2:41 PM

I feel like Ed’s reviews do a pretty decent job of both, i.e. discusses both the themes and technicalities.

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 2:50 PM

My Dad’s an extra in the 1974 version — 28:29 into the movie, he’s the guy in the blue-and-white striped suit in a party scene.

You should go watch him instead of wasting your time on this new version. :-)

clayj on May 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM

I feel like Ed’s reviews do a pretty decent job of both, i.e. discusses both the themes and technicalities.

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Agreed. That’s what clued me in.

Cleombrotus on May 12, 2013 at 2:52 PM

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Unfortunately, with our entertainment soaked culture, most will miss the themes and lessons, I fear. Especially the young.

Most reviews don’t help.

Cleombrotus on May 12, 2013 at 2:56 PM

I feel like Ed’s reviews do a pretty decent job of both, i.e. discusses both the themes and technicalities.

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Agreed. That’s what clued me in.

Cleombrotus on May 12, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Ah okay. I thought you were saying he didn’t, and I was thinking, “Did he even read this review?”

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 2:56 PM

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 2:56 PM

No, I was recalling a few other reviews I’ve read and Ed’s was the first that mentioned the corruption, etc.and I realized that they tend to focus the attention on the wrong places.

Haven’t seen the film, never read the book, can’t really understand the appeal, but it seems there’re some powerful lessons here.

Cleombrotus on May 12, 2013 at 3:04 PM

I like Ed’s reviews, but I wish he — and all movie reviewers everywhere — would include the current RT rating (it’s 48, not a go-run-to-the-theater number) and a paragraph of “I agree with a lot of reviewers that…” and “I disagree with many critics who thought…”

bobs1196 on May 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

I’m not a fan of Lurhman or Fitzgerald so I don’t plan on seeing this, but I’m curious about the 3D, both this film and Oblivion were in 3d, but it’s not mentioned if the reviewed film was 3d and if it was worth the extra $3.

Consider adding a #6. Must see in 3d to the review list.

danielreyes on May 12, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Great review, Ed.

And, good news about the descriptive-audio service.

My short review:

Even though the movie is less than the sum of its parts, it is still a very good movie.

To the extent that the movie has any problems, they are the same problems that plague the book: It is boring too often, and the only really interesting character is not made interesting until the very end. Throughout the the movie he doesn’t do much that is interesting. In this regard, being “mysterious” is not the same as being “interesting.”

Even so, I did enjoy The Great Gatsby.

On my 0-10 scale, a 7.

Ira on May 12, 2013 at 3:12 PM

It may be harder to build a connection between the audience and lead characters when their music seems too foreign, whether it’s Bollywood themed or 1920′s swing. People need familiar touchpoints that make it easier to relate to the protagonists.

bayam on May 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

I’m not sure there’s any truth to that at all. I know it’s a just a stock excuse for these things, but I would guess Ed’s guess on the economics is closer to the truth, and that we lose, not gain, when every cowboy has to have a cool modern haircut.

I like Ed’s reviews, but I wish he — and all movie reviewers everywhere — would include the current RT rating (it’s 48, not a go-run-to-the-theater number) and a paragraph of “I agree with a lot of reviewers that…” and “I disagree with many critics who thought…”

bobs1196 on May 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

What’s an RT rating?

Axe on May 12, 2013 at 3:14 PM

I like Ed’s reviews, but I wish he — and all movie reviewers everywhere — would include the current RT rating (it’s 48, not a go-run-to-the-theater number) and a paragraph of “I agree with a lot of reviewers that…” and “I disagree with many critics who thought…”

bobs1196 on May 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

RT is a decent guide for a quick decision on which movie to see, but I don’t see any reason for Ed to mention it or address other people’s opinions, I’s only interested in hearing his thoughts on the movie.

Daemonocracy on May 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

@danielreyes:

Yes he does, right in the second to last paragraph before the rating system.

@Axe:

I assume RT is for Rotten Tomatoes, which is a website that compiles tons of movie reviews for any film, and gives a percentage of how many reviews were positive. So right now, based on 156 reviews by various movie critics from various publication sources, 47% found them film to be good.

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

I like Ed’s reviews, but I wish he — and all movie reviewers everywhere — would include the current RT rating (it’s 48, not a go-run-to-the-theater number) and a paragraph of “I agree with a lot of reviewers that…” and “I disagree with many critics who thought…”

bobs1196 on May 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

First, thanks for the compliment; much appreciated. I don’t review other reviews because I try very hard not to read anyone else’s before I write mine. I usually know the Rotten Tomatoes rating because I look up movie times on Flixster, which displays the rating. (That’s how I ended up seeing Oblivion rather than The Big Wedding, which had an 8% RT rating.)

Ed Morrissey on May 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

TDSE on May 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Thanks, somehow I missed that.

danielreyes on May 12, 2013 at 3:29 PM

My Dad’s an extra in the 1974 version — 28:29 into the movie, he’s the guy in the blue-and-white striped suit in a party scene.

Being an extra is great fun – get to be on a film set, maybe meet a “star” or two, have free meals and make a few bucks. Though it can get tiring waiting around for the shots to get set up. But it’s not like real work, heh, so that’s OK.

You should go watch him instead of wasting your time on this new version. :-)
clayj on May 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM

I agree, skip the reboots and reinventions.

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

I just found out that Robert Duvall played Boo Radley in….do need to mention the title ? : ). We are watching it this week in school. I remember how old Atticus looked to me, when I was in high school. I just saw a picture of him, amazing how young he looks now : ))))

herm2416 on May 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

This has never happened before: I agree with Rex Reed. Read that review. Luhrmann doesn’t understand Fitzgerald (quite amusing since Spazz is guilty of that which he does not ken). It would be better to give the price of admission and candy to an Aussie literacy campaign.

The actors are incompetent. Leo and Tobey remain forever 90′s pot-heads. The Daisy “actress” would have been great in 1991′s Curly Sue.

Forget about the music. No, really. I wish I could forget.

Takeaway: I Am a Camera confuses and bores people. That’s the significant lesson gleaned from the average Joe reviews online. That, and the film is not prurient enough.

I used to get paid to preview films for the studios. Paid to never have a positive opinion on anything. The good old days. The Internet gives it away for free now.

tuffy on May 12, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Think of Jay Gatsby as Chris Stevens and Obama as Tom Buchanan.

profitsbeard on May 12, 2013 at 3:47 PM

has only rarely been tackled by Hollywood (just 5 times, including this version)

LOL — you forgot your sarc tag, Ed.

perhaps with an eye to the soundtrack sales potential, this 1922 period film sounds an awful lot like 2012′s top dance mixes at times.

Ya think? I agree with petefrt — the soundtrack seems like it would ruin it for me.

Great review, Ed. Very evocative and covering so many aspects of the total film experience. Especially creative prose like this:

…the result is that one feels as though the film makes its points with a beautifully gilded and bejeweled sledgehammer at times.

Nice!
PS — it’s awesome that theater technology has gotten to where people like the First Mate can better enjoy a show.

KS Rex on May 12, 2013 at 3:55 PM

RT is a decent guide for a quick decision on which movie to see, but I don’t see any reason for Ed to mention it or address other people’s opinions, I’s only interested in hearing his thoughts on the movie.

Daemonocracy on May 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Agreed. I can always go to other places and read their reviews as well, but prefer Ed’s opinions fresh and free of any influence.

hollygolightly on May 12, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Agreed. I can always go to other places and read their reviews as well, but prefer Ed’s opinions fresh and free of any influence.
hollygolightly on May 12, 2013 at 3:56 PM

You might have missed Ed’s thoughts on Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Ms. Golightly. :D

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

I guess Warren Buffett was too old to cast as Gatsby. He’s the only crony Capitalist I know now who owns Banks and Railroads.

Hummer53 on May 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

You might have missed Ed’s thoughts on Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Ms. Golightly. :D

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Uh oh, maybe that’s for the best then! :)

hollygolightly on May 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Uh oh, maybe that’s for the best then! :)
hollygolightly on May 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

I don’t believe he actually saw the whole film; Mickey Rooney’s performance as a Japanese guy upset him and he gave up on it at that point, from what I understand.

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 4:06 PM

FWIW my 18 year old son really liked it.

CW on May 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM

I don’t believe he actually saw the whole film; Mickey Rooney’s performance as a Japanese guy upset him and he gave up on it at that point, from what I understand.

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Ugh. The director, the producer and even Rooney himself clearly meant no ill will as they have all said had they known people would find it offensive they would have used a person of Japanese descent for the role and done things much differently. They have repeatedly apologized and said that’s the only thing they’d change about the movie, even after all the accolades it’s received.

However, it’s one of the greatest movies of all time and I can’t let that take away from my love of it…especially considering the crap they churn out nowadays.

hollygolightly on May 12, 2013 at 4:25 PM

The classic story…has only rarely been tackled by Hollywood (just 5 times, including this version).

Five times doesn’t seem so rare to me.

bobs1196 on May 12, 2013 at 2:23 PM

So what other story has been made 5 times? Maybe … Jeckle and Hyde? Romeo and Juliet? MacBeth? I don’t know enough about film. But 5 times seems like a lot for a 20th century story.

Paul-Cincy on May 12, 2013 at 4:27 PM

It’s not the kids’ fault there is crappy music in the film. The director and producer made those decisions. That said, non-period music seemed to work fine in A Knight’s Tale.

John the Libertarian on May 12, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Captain Ed: This is a great musical on Zelda in case you have not seen it in person.

Zelda – A musical based on the life of 1920s American icon Zelda Fitzgerald.

luckybogey on May 12, 2013 at 2:30 PM

FTFY

The best Symphony about Zelda you’ll find

njrob on May 12, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Being an extra is great fun – get to be on a film set, maybe meet a “star” or two, have free meals and make a few bucks. Though it can get tiring waiting around for the shots to get set up. But it’s not like real work, heh, so that’s OK.

whatcat

a, uh, “friend” of mine was an extra in the movie “Yanks” filmed in the UK in 1978. He was a young E-5 with a wife and twin sons and the money was pretty good. They hired a bunch of us, er, that is my “friend” and other USAF troops to fill various roles as WWII G.I.s.

My “friend’s” claim to fame is a shower scene of his butt.

…and no, I won’t tell you what the time frame in the movie is. ;-)

E9RET on May 12, 2013 at 4:45 PM

So what other story has been made 5 times? Maybe … Jeckle and Hyde? Romeo and Juliet? MacBeth? I don’t know enough about film. But 5 times seems like a lot for a 20th century story.

Paul-Cincy on May 12, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Maybe the counting problem is because that line’s too blurry. I’ve never seen, for example, War of the Worlds, not even once. They keep using the “tired, old story” as a diving board, and usually leave the tired old story too far behind. (Your J & H made me think of this. It’s about a person’s pride making room within them for their own overthrow. More a matter of being righteous in one’s own eyes than “split personality.” I don’t think I’ve seen that story once either, but I might have missed something earlier . . .)

(PS: If its not too far off topic, we put up a pretty critical copy of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde awhile ago, if anyone has an evening for it or something. I edited that — it should be perfect. If it’s not, let me know. Forgive my proselytizing — I just don’t want these things to get lost.)

Cable guide: 2013. Keanu Reeves, Jack Black. In this touching and updated version of Macbeth set in Manhattan, Danish exchange student Keanu Reeves meets an ancestor’s ghost. Adventures ensue. Drama. 3 stars.

Axe on May 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM

It may be harder to build a connection between the audience and lead characters when their music seems too foreign, whether it’s Bollywood themed or 1920′s swing. People need familiar touchpoints that make it easier to relate to the protagonists.

bayam on May 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

I was about to suggest that most people are quite capable of understanding what’s going on without having to have it spoon-fed to them in nice, friendly, easy to understand single-syllable chunks, but then saw that it was you writing this comment, and that from your liberal, moronic perspective, what you wrote is likely true for similarly moronic individuals.

Carry on, imbecile.

Midas on May 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM

It may be harder to build a connection between the audience and lead characters when their music seems too foreign, whether it’s Bollywood themed or 1920′s swing. People need familiar touchpoints that make it easier to relate to the protagonists.

bayam on May 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Yes, because Lord forbid someone should experience something completely different or new at the movies.

The underlying themes of pain, greed, jealousy, corruption, etc, etc, etc, are universal so why does it need to be further “familiarized”?

It’s pandering and dumbing down. Unfortunately, that’s what the average audience wants.

kim roy on May 12, 2013 at 4:51 PM

a, uh, “friend” of mine was an extra in the movie “Yanks” filmed in the UK in 1978. He was a young E-5 with a wife and twin sons and the money was pretty good. They hired a bunch of us, er, that is my “friend” and other USAF troops to fill various roles as WWII G.I.s.

My “friend’s” claim to fame is a shower scene of his butt.

…and no, I won’t tell you what the time frame in the movie is. ;-)

E9RET on May 12, 2013 at 4:45 PM

That story. Is awesome. :)

Axe on May 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM

The director, the producer and even Rooney himself clearly meant no ill will as they have all said had they known people would find it offensive they would have used a person of Japanese descent for the role and done things much differently. They have repeatedly apologized and said that’s the only thing they’d change about the movie, even after all the accolades it’s received.

However, it’s one of the greatest movies of all time and I can’t let that take away from my love of it…especially considering the crap they churn out nowadays.

hollygolightly on May 12, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Yeah and as I pointed out to Ed, nobody even thought to be offended until the 1990s when PCness really began to come out in full force.

There’s a lot of great films that have tiny, insignificant elements or flaws that I don’t care for, but are not very memorable in the greater context of the films.

And who could not love Audrey Hepburn? What a lovely and classy lady she was.

The “Cat?…..Cat?” last scene still gets me every time. I’m glad the movie strayed from the novella; the film is near-perfect – probably why it’s considered one of the classics.

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 5:06 PM

They blew the casting on Daisy, just like they did in the Redford version with Farrow. Mulligan is not enchanting enough to make her worth Gatsby’s effort. Throw in the rap soundtrack and that killed it for me.

echosyst on May 12, 2013 at 5:07 PM

1) As for amending the scale to address 3D: if it’s in the 3D, don’t see it. No amendment necessary.

2) Historic pieces are more authentic with period tunes. Can you imagine if they played “We are thew champions” when they passed the 13th amendment in Lincoln? How about if they played “Thuderstruck” when William Wallace dies in Braveheart? Maybe “Back in the addle again” for Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven? Sounds pretty stupid, right? How about “poker face” when Maximus reveals his identity in Gladiator?

I remember it was controversial when A Knights Tale came out. Movies like that are just light-weight popcorn flicks, so maybe it doesn’t matter. They weren’t looking to be serious anyway. Sort of like how you wouldn’t take “42″ seriously if they had Cheech and Chong as Jackie’s team-mates for comic relief.

In the end they think they are being clever by juxtaposing completely different styles or eras, but it just comes off as immature to me. Then again, I probably don’t value movies the same way as the guy who rushes out to see Transformers 7. That and trying to sell soundtracks…

Free Indeed on May 12, 2013 at 5:14 PM

a, uh, “friend” of mine was an extra in the movie “Yanks” filmed in the UK in 1978. He was a young E-5 with a wife and twin sons and the money was pretty good. They hired a bunch of us, er, that is my “friend” and other USAF troops to fill various roles as WWII G.I.s.

Cool. Yeah, the pay can be good depending on the budget and if you do something other than just being “scenery”. The Holy Grail for extras is to get even one short line, that really bumps up the pay grade.

“Yanks” had some good money to work with. For some cheapo independent films the extras work for all the credit they can eat or as a favor.

My “friend’s” claim to fame is a shower scene of his butt.
…and no, I won’t tell you what the time frame in the movie is. ;-)
E9RET on May 12, 2013 at 4:45 PM

You can make some bucks blackmailing him by threatening to upload the clip to YouTube, y’know!

whatcat on May 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Also, if you’re looking for whether the story is worth it and not juts a rundown on hoe glossy the movie is, try pluggedinonline dot com. I always check things out there first to see what the negatives are and what the reviewers conclusion is. These days you have to go into things with eyes wide open.

Free Indeed on May 12, 2013 at 5:20 PM

I thought the movie was OK (I’d give it a 3.5), but the bizarre sound track kind of ruined it for me. Hip hop from the 20′s, really? I guess they couldn’t find any jazz?

shanimal on May 12, 2013 at 6:02 PM

(PS: If its not too far off topic, we put up a pretty critical copy of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde awhile ago, if anyone has an evening for it or something. I edited that — it should be perfect. If it’s not, let me know. Forgive my proselytizing — I just don’t want these things to get lost.)

Axe on May 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM

I actually found a version of RLS DJ and MH on the interwebs a few years ago and read it, as the dual personality bit has a personal meaning to me. It *is* iconic for many, I’m sure. Maybe I’ll ck out your version. :)

Paul-Cincy on May 12, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Fantastic piece of writing Ed. Your agent should get you a gig doing this for print.

AYNBLAND on May 12, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Can’t wait to see it! Wish the soundtrack was jazz, oh well.

HellCat on May 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM

njrob

Thanks. I enjoyed the Legend of Zelda… excellent

luckybogey on May 12, 2013 at 8:06 PM

bayam on May 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

I understand your point of view.

My problem is I’m not interested in whether the film is designed to appeal to certain audiences. I’d prefer an realistic depiction of the period, take it or leave it. Injecting some BS music into a film about the 20′s ruins it for me. Sorry, just the way I am.

petefrt on May 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM

I have heard a ruor the next project is to remake Casablanca with Justin Bieber as Rick and replacing Sam and ‘As Time Goes By’ with Queen Latifa and Sidney Greenstreet with Psy…

Seriously, the Jazz Age without Jazz and a 28 year old main character played by a 40 year old Betamale

Sad

JIMV on May 12, 2013 at 8:45 PM

I’ve always found Luhrman’s work to be the epitome of style over substance and just about unwatchable. But there’s a real ‘emperor’s new clothes’ thing about him. Or there was. This is the first complimentary review of Gatsby that I’ve read so I think the scales are falling from many critics’ eyes.

The Thin Man Returns on May 12, 2013 at 11:45 PM

Deserving or not, the movie will make money: not so much the star power, but the overabundance of conspicuous excess that’s being played up for 2 hours.

I don’t disagree about the soundtrack, but I’m not surprised: using Jay-Z/Beyonce is a marketing tactic to reach that younger (18-28, urban & suburban) audience that may not necessarily want to see an “American Classic”

Compare this, say using the same actor in a prior role of a classic novel: DiCaprio in “Romeo+Juliet” which, I will admit to liking: it didn’t overdo the soundtrack, there was a serious attempt to “modernize” Shakespeare (or is it Bacon?) into a format that could actually be understood by the target audience….They concentrated on the telling of the tale as close to the original language as possible, while keeping the SFX to the level needed to actually tell the story.

Overall, it’s going to be a rather heavy handed event but i don’t think it could be helped. To do “Gatsby” you have to either be minimalist or outrageously outrageous over the top…This director went the latter route, like a Jerry Bruckhiemer, but with less stellar results…and no robots :o(

BlaxPac on May 13, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Luhrmann’s over-the-top cinematic style seen in Moulin Rouge is much in evidence here, if somewhat more disciplined….As in Moulin Rouge and perhaps with an eye to the soundtrack sales potential, this 1922 period film sounds an awful lot like 2012′s top dance mixes at times. That’s obviously a deliberate choice, but the effect (as in Moulin Rouge, although nowhere near as bad) is to pull the audience out of the period.

The contemporary music in “Moulin Rouge” may have worked better than doing the same thing in “The Great Gatsby” because TGG is set in a particular time period for a specific purpose, whereas MR is in a fantasy-alternate-time-period and is a farce from the get-go.
BTW, over-the-top doesn’t even begin to describe “Moulin Rouge”.

AesopFan on May 13, 2013 at 12:14 AM

I’m sorry — I just think DiCaprio is a horrible actor. Can’t take him seriously in anything…

dpduq on May 13, 2013 at 12:25 AM

I hate being alive

tom daschle concerned on May 13, 2013 at 1:49 AM

Sorry everybody, but I thought the book was boring as hell when I was forced to read it in high school, so, even offered a couple of free tickets to go see it, I’d give them away to somebody.

sage0925 on May 13, 2013 at 5:52 AM

I still don’t like liberals but this was a great movie there is no getting around it.

rodguy911 on May 13, 2013 at 8:38 AM

I thought the movie was OK (I’d give it a 3.5), but the bizarre sound track kind of ruined it for me. Hip hop from the 20′s, really? I guess they couldn’t find any jazz?
shanimal on May 12, 2013 at 6:02 PM

I haven’t seen the movie, yet. But reading the comments I keep seeing these complaints about the music. But have you guys ever seen a Baz Lurhman film? Romeo & Juliet? Moulin Rouge? He’s ALWAYS got modern music beating out the rhythms of whatever “period” piece he’s doing. It’s ALWAYS a sort or surreal twist up, like a dream.

It’s what he does. And as far as rap goes, Jay-z HAS made himself into one of the classiest and most capable. I can’t imagine why you guys wouldn’t take to him just for his entrepreneurial, from the ground up, hard work, and risk and ambition personal story.

It’s really not like they chose lil’ Wayne, 50 cent, or some other crass primitive performer. At least Jay-z does try to make actual art from it.

I’ve been looking forward to this version of the Great Gatsby. I love some good Jazz as well. But you don’t go to a Lurhman film for stark reality and true to life style story representations. You go for the thumping over the top half dream world.

It’s kinda what he does.

Genuine on May 13, 2013 at 1:11 PM

I hate being alive
tom daschle concerned on May 13, 2013 at 1:49 AM

Aaaaaaand, it really rather shows, Tom. ;) Tell some more people to go piss up a rope and make an effort to feel superior to them. It’ll sustain you for a few more hours at least. Who knows, works for a lifetime for some folks!

Genuine on May 13, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Jordan Baker. That’s not a criticism of actor Elizabeth Debicki, but of the script; the character disappears almost entirely after her role in roping Nick into helping Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and with it part of the character development of Nick.

From memory, I recall Jordan as being in many respects a driven, professional, modern woman. She was also sleazy and cheated at golf.

PC dictates that her like disappear in literature if possible.

IlikedAUH2O on May 13, 2013 at 4:23 PM