The Great Gatsby

The-Great-Gatsby3The Great Gatsby has gotten some bad reviews, and I get some of the things they are saying. But, all in all, I was not disappointed with the movie, and I’ve been excited for it forever.

First off, it’s a visual movie – it’s two and a half hours of looking at really beautiful things and people (Leo). I watched the regular version, but it’s very obviously shot for 3D. I don’t really get why they would make this movie 3D, but whatever. I don’t fault Baz Luhrmann for taking this approach because he needed to find a way to reinterpret the story. Everyone knows the plot, and you can’t touch it. The 1974 version was a very literal screen translation of the text, so that’s been done. What’s left is making it look and sound different, which is what he did with the music and the visuals.

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What-a-fabulous-partypartyThe one thing that wasn’t a huge fan of in terms of this was that it had some whimsical elements that kind of bothered me. Things like letters coming off pages and floating up into the air, and clouds becoming people’s faces. Get real, Baz; that doesn’t happen.

Gatsby’s house is a huge part of the story and it’s described as a grand palace, which is what it looks like in the movie. In fact it looks like a Disney castle. Even though the style is in keeping with some of the massive mansions you find on Long Island, I liked the house in the old movie better. It was more how I pictured it reading the book – slightly more modest and less intimidating – like Gatsby’s personality. But nothing in the movie is modest; that’s the whole the idea.

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Robert Redford – old man crush

Even all the jewelry and some of the props were made by Tiffany’s, and cost thousands of dollars. The production of the movie mirrored the lifestyle it portrayed (they even spent so much money that they ran out and had to move filming to Australia, where Baz is from). But it works because you’re looking at actual excesses of diamonds and pearls and expensive cars and it sucks you in.

733807_529085157133904_602227890_nThe plot was true to the book (but they skipped my favorite line, “her voice is full of money”), except that they have Tobey Maguire narrating the story from a mental institute, and at the end he finishes writing The Great Gatsby, which does not happen in the book. I thought it was a little weird, but I guess it was supposed to darken the story.

tobey-maguire-and-leonardo-dicaprio-the-great-gatsbyLeonardo DiCaprio was perfect as Gatsby, obviously because he’s the best. Carey Mulligan was good as Daisy but I still find her unattractive even drenched in diamonds and designer dresses. Baz just loves pairing Leo with semi-plain looking girls with round noses…

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Talking to you Claire Danes….sorry..

Jay-Z’s influence was also very apparent, not only through his music but by the emphasis put on Black people in the movie. I know Baz (I’m naming my kid Baz) said he wanted a hip-hop influence in the movie, but it was a little odd how there would just be random shots of Black people. Like when a car full of super fancy Black men and women zoom by jamming out to “H to the Izzo.” I think Jay-Z was just like “No, Baz, let me do this. It will be hilarious.” And it was.

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That’s the anthem get’cha damn hands up

The rest of the music worked well in the movie, and I was happy that Lana Del Rey’s song from the soundtrack was sort of the main theme song because it’s my favorite one.

THE GREAT GATSBYAnyway really long story short, I liked it. The book is one of the most-loved American books ever written so it’s a big undertaking to re-imagine it. This version is loud and fantastical in Moulin-Rouge style. Maybe in 30 years the next version will be more to the critics’ liking.

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Gatsby’s Music

Oh, Baz -E!

Oh, Baz
-E!

I’m in such a Gatsby mood. I finished the book last week and watched the red (black) carpet premier on TV last night – which had I known was going on in NYC I would have crashed.

NPR has released a preview of The Great Gatsby soundtrack that everyone is talking about. The director, Baz Luhrmann, talked a little about working with Jay-Z on the soundtrack last night. He said he wanted to update the music in a way that makes us feel now the way people felt reading the book then, which at the time featured controversial black music – jazz. He also said he was introduced to Jay-Z by Leonardo DiCaprio just as he had finished writing “No Church in the Wild,” which seems like it could have been the theme for the whole movie and was featured in one of the first previews for the movie.

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“…the film’s soundtrack, which like Lurmann’s previous ones both arises from within the film and stands separately from it. Some have wondered why, after Lurhmann enlisted Jay-Z’s help and anounced that his movie’s music would recast hip-hop as the jazz of our boom-and-bust era, only a few rappers show up on the album. But just as Fitzgerald peppered his text with references to jazz-influenced pop songs to show how that music became a lingua franca, so this soundtrack aims to show how hip-hop now deeply informs rock, dance music and the Top 40.” – NPR

The soundtrack features a lot of dark music, Jack White screaming and some fun songs like a jazzy version of “Crazy in Love” by “B” as Baz calls her. He’s my new favorite silver fox.

Jay E!

Jay
E!

Florence  E!

Florence
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Listen to the soundtrack HERE

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Martha Stewart at the premier in gold clamdiggers – LOL

Back in high school

gatsbyI’ve been revisiting classic books I read in middle school and high school. I read To Kill a Mockingbird and now I’m making my way through Catcher in the Rye. But what I’m really excited for is to re-read The Great Gatsby. Not only was it my favorite English class book, but the movie is getting closer and closer. I’m very excited because I love the book, I love Leo and I love sparkly rich people.

The soundtrack is also so up my ally. All I listen to lately is Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Rey. And the soundtrack is produced by Jay-Z who I’ll be seeing in concert this summer. Also Beyonce does a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” This soundtrack is for me.

My only problem in regards to the movie is that that Carrie Mulligan chick is like a less cute version of Michelle Williams, who we all know is not so pretty.

Trivia: The book is rumored to be set in Westport, CT. My hood (kind of) – I should have been cast as Daisy.

Easy Summer Read

A couple months ago there was a pile of free books lying around at work. I looked through them and nothing really looked appealing, but they were free so I took one: Vixen by Jillian Larkin.

Vixen is a teen novel about 17-year-old Gloria who is growing up in high society in 1920s Chicago. She begins a secret life as a flapper and lounge singer at a notorious speak easy and the scandal gets even better when Gloria, who is engaged to a Chicago society big-shot, starts a star-crossed love affair with a Black piano player.

I recommend reading this book for a couple reasons. First, all of these books came straight from the publishing companies and they were not even in their final editions. They even had the letters to the publisher inside the book. It was cool to get a glimpse into the process of trying to get your book out there. As a writer of sorts, I feel like I’ve stumbled upon something and it’s my duty to support this aspiring author. So I looked a little bit into Jillian Larkin and I found an interview with her on the website for her book. It doesn’t say how old she is but she looks very young, and this is her first attempt at writing a novel. It’s the first in a series ingeniously entitled The Flappers (whatever, give the girl a break she’s targeting 13-year-olds). The second book is called Ingenue and it comes out in August.

- Jillian Larkin -

The second reason I would recommend reading Vixen is because it’s just a fun book to read. It’s written for young girls by a young author, and you can tell. The writing is not the best, and it has a lot of very “teen” elements including a brief history on prohibition and every teenage girl’s fantasy of being discovered and becoming famous. So, needless to say, while it does have some elements of social commentary, this is not the next The Great Gatsby. It’s just a fun, easy-to-read novel by a girl who loves The Great Gatsby and all things 1920s. I will probably read the next book, and I am not ashamed to say that I will probably read it. Ever since Twilight I have a new found appreciation for teen novels. Sometimes after a day of working and dealing with your own problems, you just need to indulge in a completely ridiculous fantasy or love story without looking for hidden subtext or delving deep into the human condition. No matter how old we get, girls love love. And I would argue that love sells just as much as sex does. Case in point: my mom is a huge Twilight fanatic and Nicholas Sparks is actually a horrible author.

So, in conclusion, if you’re looking for something fun to bring to the beach try Vixen and once in a while give in to the young adults section at Barnes and Noble….or on your Kindle or whatever the kids are using this days….

Youtube commercial for a book? Weird: