Thursday, October 31, 2013

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE GREAT GATSBY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It is with great joy that I call to your attention The Great Gatsby (2013, PG-13, Available on DVD).


I approached this movie with great trepidation because it is based on my all-time favorite novel, penned by The Almighty F. Scott Fitzgerald. I couldn't imagine that anyone would ever make a movie based on this book that would please me, but Baz Luhrmann did.

It's 1922. Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns from The Great War determined to find the girl with whom he fell in love while training to become an officer – Daisy, so beautiful, and in Gatsby's mind, the image of a perfect past he wants to regain. Daisy (Carey Mulligan) has married the wealthy and brutish Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Gatsby, now wealthy himself – through nefarious means – moves into a mansion where he can see across the water the green light at the end of the Buchanan's dock. Gatsby asks a mutual friend to approach his next-door neighbor – Daisy's cousin, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) – to arrange a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy. Gatsby and Daisy meet at Nick's house for tea. Joy and tragedy ensue.

First, I'll tell you what I don't like about this movie. I don't care for the framing of the story with Nick Carraway in a mental institution because he's become an alcoholic. He tells his doctor the sad story of Gatsby and Daisy, and then writes the book, giving it the title Gatsby and then changing it to The Great Gatsby. (A bit of trivia: The institution is called The Perkins Sanitarium because of Fitzgerald's close relationship with his editor, Maxwell Perkins.)

Also, I don't like Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, but perhaps this dislike is appropriate because Tom Buchanan is not meant to be liked.

What do I like?

Everything else.

I was worried that the score, which includes hip-hop, would be stupid, but it's not. It energizes the movie and helps it to move at the pace that it should: the pace of The Jazz Age, with bootleggers and wild seemingly endless parties at Jay Gatsby's palatial mansion. The costumes are beautiful. Carey Mulligan is fine as Daisy, though I wonder why she doesn't have at least a bit of a Southern accent.

But most of all I like – no, I love – Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. I've never been much of a DiCaprio fan. I didn't go all googly eyed over Titanic. But somehow DiCaprio pulls off Jay Gatsby perfectly. Perhaps it's his air of mystery. I am particularly pleased with DiCaprio's accent. I recognize it. It is the accent of a man who comes from nowhere and wants to come from someplace special. It is an attempt at the accent of a man who attended prep school and Oxford and has had money all his life. He does not want to appear to be nouveau riche.

I will not be surprised if DiCaprio is nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award and wins it. It will be difficult to beat this performnce.

The Great Gatsby earns The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Superiority.

My only regret is that I didn't see this movie in a theater. I suspect it's fabulous on a big screen in 3-D.

I continue to edit. I wish you happy viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Nick Carraway: 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 farther... And one fine morning - So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

28 comments:

  1. I saw the previews for this, and I didn't think it would be good. I will definitely see it based on your review.

    Also, Happy Hallowversary. I met you one year ago, today!

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  2. Happy Holloweenie! It's so exciting that we have an anniversary. I wish we could have dinner at a posh restaurant and give each other diamond jewelry. Please let me know if you like Gatsby. I love the book so much that I'm very surprised I love the movie. I don't care for the last Gatsby movie, which starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. The pace was too slow, and they used too much of the original dialog from the book. It's beautifully written, but it doesn't sound normal coming out of people's mouths.

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  3. I too, wanted to see The Great Gatsby in theaters. It didn't happen. Hopefully I will get to see it on DVD or Netflix someday.

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    1. Does the chief mama in charge have time to watch a DVD?

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  4. Dear Janie, thanks for sharing your response to this movie. It's one I wanted to see but, like you, I missed it when it was at the theaters. So now I'll look at it on Netflex. I do like DiCaprio. Not so much from Titanic but from the movie he was in with Tom Hanks. I hope you're resting as well as editing! Peace.

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    1. I'm resting today. I had three old fillings replaced this morning! My mouth is a little sore. I hope you enjoy Gatsby.

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  5. Taking your recommendation Janie, I will add this movie to my ever-increasing list of 'must-see' films.
    Thanks for stopping by today especially after having gone to the dentist!!! Always good to hear from you.

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    1. If you like this movie even half as much as I did, then you'll think it's great.

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  6. I liked Jazz Age music, thinking it is energizing enough. I suppose I will get this at some time to watch. I absolutely love the book.

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    1. I had my doubts about the hip-hop, but I think it works.

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  7. Gatsby is one of my favorite books, and I was SO pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the movie. Ahhh- I'm looking forward to seeing it again, and I just might reread the book, too.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, too. I am not alone. I reread the book regularly. I'm borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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  8. I guess I need to give it a shot! I was worried I wouldn't like it because I already know the story and the previews looked a little...overdone? I don't like Leo in spray tan.

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    1. I didn't even notice the spray tan. The movie is overdone in a manner appropriate to the time and the story.

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  9. I'm a Fitzgerald fan, and this is one of my favorite books, so I wasn't all that keen about seeing the movie. (I HATE it when a movie pulverizes a book and turns it into something it was never meant to be.) But now, I'll have to reconsider. Thanks!

    By the way, my hubby and I actually went to the movies last week! First time in maybe fifteen or twenty years. (Hard to believe I can remember the days of getting into the theater to see a double feature, cartoon, and coming attractions, PLUS get candy and popcorn... for fifty cents. Crap. Talk about sticker shock when we bought our tickets! OY!) Anyhow, we saw "Gravity"... in 3-D! Verrrrrry cool.

    Happy weekend!

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    1. Well, aren't you the wild couple. I go to a theater about once/year.

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  10. Another one I haven't seen. I can't watch anything in 3D or I would throw up on the person ahead of me....

    -andi

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    1. The 3D was in theaters. It's on DVD now. I don't think you'll puke.

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  11. I've never been particularly interested in this story but based on your review I just might give it a try. Happy Weekend.

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    1. If you're not interested in the story, then I don't know if you'll like the movie.

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  12. I agree with you - just a beautiful movie. So much better cast than the Robert Redford version - although I have to admit that I loved Mia Farrow as Daisy. She was so beautiful, she was southern, she was vapid and jaded, she was a coward. But Carey Mulligan brought a different vibe to the part, and it was just as good. Just different. And the costumes! Amazing, beautiful movie. I am not a DiCaprio fan either, but his command of accents rivals Meryl Streep. Great actor. He brought a vulnerability to the role that made me really sad. Which was the point.

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it. I feel validated.

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  13. I've never been that impressed with the story, either. But I was surprised that I liked the movie as much as I did. DiCaprio gradually sucked me in--LOL! Of course, I fell in love with his talent when I saw him in Gilbert Grape. ;)

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    1. The story is sad, but Fitzgerald's writing is just so darn beautiful.

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  14. I am shocked by your review. That's the highest review I've heard for this flick. This is one of those books that relies so much on symbolism and mood and metaphor that I felt there's no way it can be filmed. Also, knowing the soundtrack situation, I felt that would make things feel dated, but if you say it's good, I'll give it a shot.

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    1. I appreciate your confidence in me. Some of my (blogger) friends also love the movie. Please let me know what you think of it. I was absolutely shocked that I loved it.

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  15. Hi Janie .. I have to see the movie as I missed it ... and so far I've been unable to get into Fitzgerald's book?! I'm a philistine! Thanks for the reminder though of the story and giving me an inkling of what to expect - helpful ..

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. I think it was The Modern Library that ranked the best novels of the last century. The Great Gatsby was second. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it's beautifully written.

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