Some sound advice from an old friend.
STEADY LEAK: WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXHILARATED BY THE TRAILER FOR THE GREAT GATSBY
Well, I for one am not excited about this adaptation. Sure, it looks like a hundred million bucks, probably because the budget is 127 million. There's no reason for this movie to cost that much when Boardwalk Empire does the same era for a fraction of the cost. I love the photography as it doesn't have fucking TEAL AND ORANGE nor does it give everything a sepia tone just because it takes place in the past. But Baz Luhrmann is a horrible choice for this and he's terribly overrated. His two most well regarded movies (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) were little more than feature length music video's while Australia was a colossal pile of Wombat shit. If this was being shot by Brett Rhatner, McG or Zack Snyder, people would be pissing blood. How is Luhrmann any better than those other Directors apart from the fact that he's a bit more artful?!
Furthermore, although the Great Gatsby is an excellent book, it needs a more measured pace. I would have KILLED to have seen Coppola adapt his original version of the screenplay from the 70's using today's technology as he would've been PERFECT for this if he was able to bring his A-game. The casting seems very wrong. DiCaprio still looks like a bloated teenager wearing his dads clothes while you just know Toby only got hired because he and Leo are buds. Carey Mulligan is very pretty but she looks like a little girl. Gretchen Mol, who is coincidentally in Boardwalk Empire, would have made a fantastic Daisy while I would have went for Rachel McAdams for Myrtle.
As for the trailer, I really don't understand this fixation with using Rap and Hip-hop for movies set in the 1920's or 1950's (Gangster Squad) when THIS is the perfect song for The Great Gatsby....
And Nick, good to see you writing again. I know you're busy as hell but keep it up!
And that's not to say that those things are bad in and of themselves. But that trailer looks like Luhrman got lost in the glitz of the Jazz Age and completely whiffed on the underlying emptiness behind all of it that runs through the novel.
I saw a stageplay a couple of years ago called Gatz that consisted of a guy pretty much reading the entire novel. It was set in an office and the main dude starts reading the book by himself at his desk, and as he goes along, other characters "become" the characters from Gatsby (like, the office jerk became Nick, the sympathetic boss was Gatsby, the office cutie was Daisy, etc). It was broken into three parts and was an eight hour theater event. It was truly amazing and one of the greatest pieces of theater I've ever seen.
If this movie is half as good as that, I'll be amazed.
I said this somewhere else, and someone else alluded to it in the other thread, but showing the glitz and glamour as glitzy and glamorous does not mean that aspect of the book was lost on Lurhmann. Obviously we'll have to wait and watch the movie to know for sure, but the idea that making it a spectacle means he's endorsing it is silly. As I said on that other site, should he have made the movie look like Schindler's List?
I was exhilarated(sp) by it. Moulin Rouge remains incredibly potent and spectacular, and remains one of my favorite films of the previous decade.
I refuse to not get excited about a Baz Luhrmann adaptation of a great American novel set in the 1920s. I roger the concerns, but I have great faith in the man to make it work. Hell, I'll take a failure like Australia over most director's successes.
Besides, opulence matters. So high you fly, so far you fall, and all that.
You can't have the thematic point of the novel conveyed without the opulence- so while that's the "easy" part, it's also entirely necessary. It's also the ONLY thing that is ever going to be the focus in a trailer designed to entice people to a 3D drama. They're never ever going to cut some shit like The Master trailer.
So I get the trepidation, and I do disagree with giving it a pass because it's spectacle based on not-robots, but this trailer doesn't innately convey "missed point." If you don't dig Luhrmann or give him the benefit of the doubt, I dig that, and... well I guess we'll just see.
But looking at this with, "AH-HA! See? Right there- it's full of flashy sets and costumes and stuff" is not a confirmation of anything that wasn't obvious from the announcement that this was happening. Shit's gonna look good and look cool, now we just have to see if Luhrmann and his cast (who should all be well capable), have any inclination to subvert that cool - Matthew Weiner style.
I think maybe one more post slipped in before mine has made my thoughts redundant!
My only hesitation with this, like all adaptations of Great Literature, is that the power of The Great Gatsby is in its prose, not its plot. No matter what Luhrman manages to accomplish, I just don't see anyone being able to satisfactorily translate to the language of cinema one of the greatest endings ever written, and one of my favorite passages that I've ever read:
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes - a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And one fine morning --
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
If I hear that last line read by Tobey MaGuire in voiceover I'll be throwing my copy of the novel at the projector. That said, I'm sure I'll be looking for a 2D screening opening weekend.
Nick is right on. I mean, has no one seen Strictly Ballroom? I will forever give Luhrman the benefit of the doubt because of that one.
I'm guessing Gatsby's script and anachronistic soundtrack will give me a migraine though. BUT I WILL STILL SEE IT.
Afuckingmen. Generally, as a rule, I try to avoid sharing personal shit here, but I'm gonna break my rule in response to this. The last time I read the book, when I got to that line, I related to it so powerfully that it brought tears to my eyes. If they fuck it up on film, I swear, heads will roll!