Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gatsby for the Hip-Hop Generation

It seems that Baz Luhrman's update of The Great Gatsby defied most box expectations and drew a large audience to its opening weekend, despite what had been generally bad reviews.  But, of course Baz and Warner Bros. had covered their bases by giving the show plenty of advance publicity and product tie-ins, insuring that there would be enough curious moviegoers to take in one of America's great romance stories.

A.O. Scott was one of the few critics to give Baz a relatively favorable review.  Baz is known for dazzle, and he uses three dimensional effects and hip-hop music to create a rip-roaring good time during America's most opulent and decadent era, much like he did with Paris in Moulin Rouge.  Nuance was never Baz's thing, made abundantly clear in his Australian epic, which used just about every scene to bludgeon you over the head.

This is why few critics liked Baz's 3-D Gatsby, preferring Jack Clayton's much more nuanced 1974 version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.  This is the fifth adaptation of the novel.  The first was a silent film that came out a year after the novel had been published.  There was also a 1949 version with Alan Ladd and Shelly Winters.  A very forgettable attempt was made in 2000.  I suppose each generation needs its own version, and in its own odd way, Baz's Gatsby fits with the times.

Take your pick!

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