How could I stop now… when I have so very, very far to fall?
Julia Gillard is a soulless piece of shit that deserves to rot in prison for starting a new chapter in White Australia. Putting refugees (including children) in prisons forfeits your right to be considered a human.
And if you think she’s anything other than a criminal you’re either a wannabe Labor apparatchic or a - racist - piece of shit. Peace out
“You mean the rides towards Tipton and Lowick; every one is pleased with those,” said Rosamond, with simplicity.
“No, I mean something much nearer to me.”
Rosamond rose and reached her netting, and then said, “Do you care about dancing at all? I am not quite sure whether clever men ever dance.”
“I would dance with you if you would allow me.”
“Oh!” said Rosamond, with a slight deprecatory laugh. “I was only going to say that we sometimes have dancing, and I wanted to know whether you would feel insulted if you were asked to come.”
“Not on the condition I mentioned."
— George Eliot, Middlemarch
It’s a Grand Old Time
‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of those novels that when read as a teenager permanently occupies a space in the reader’s worldview. It is not dissimilar in this respect to ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ or ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ So when the idea of a film adaption comes up, understandably expectations (and concerns) can run high. It was with this trepidation that I saw Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby.’ The film sees Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) interact with the mysterious J. Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his attempts to capture the love of the married Daisy (Carey Mulligan). This romance plays out against the backdrop of the glitzy Roaring 20s. So with the synopsis out of the way, let me be upfront with what I think of this movie: it’s a movie so bad it should be classified as a warcrime. It’s the kind of film that can’t just be viewed, it has to be analysed to discover just why it so resoundingly failed. To someone who hasn’t seen the film or read the book, let me be clear the failure of this film isn’t because it deviated from the book. Indeed, there are plenty of adaptations that are better than the book, rather the recourse to the book is useful in showing how changes in source material and interpretation lead to the creation of a film so devoid of soul and finesse.
I think the main problem with the film is simply that I can’t think of a director less suited to adapting the book. On the surface it seems that it’d be a great fit, the book is so focused on parties and who is more ostentatious and lavish a filmmaker than Luhrmann? But this misses the point; the book wasn’t about opulence, it was about decay. The novel is about facades and ostentation hiding a rotten core. Descriptions of parties by Fitzgerald never lose sight of a miasmic heat and despair. Because this is the Lost Generation, it is a cosmopolitan corruption of “the American Dream” with Gatsby at the centre searching for a hollow meaning and a bygone past. But Luhrmann true to form creates a movie full of lavish party scenes that almost anyone would want to attend. There is no subversive element to this opulence. And this speaks to a deeper shift in the movie’s focus. Rather than being an examination of any of the previously mentioned themes, it becomes merely the, decidedly modern, examination of celebrity more than anything else (Gatsby isn’t tragic or pathetic, but enviable). Any mystique Gatsby’s has is completely undermined because while the book might have been very subtle, Luhrmann is a profoundly unsubtle director. All scenes are lit up and CGI’d to the point of being cartoonish, all symbols are shoved into the face of the audience again and again, as if the director were a child screaming, “DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID HERE? DO YOU SEE? ARE YOU WATCHING?” Again and again scenes become laughably hamfisted. If there’s a part of the book Luhrmann likes he has Maguire whiningly monolog it (often with the text splashing up on screen). Or when Maguire reflects that anyone on the street could be just like him, it’s not enough for this observation to be made, but a pedestrian has to literally be Tobey Maguire waving at Tobey Maguire.
On the matter of casting, Leonardo DiCaprio is probably the best actor I can think of to portray Gatsby. He has just the right element of supernatural charm, slight insecurity, and humanism. That’s why to see him acting in this trainwreck is such a disappointment. While DiCaprio struggles to convey depth or characterisation he’s at loggerheads with the facile script. So in the end he delivers an underwhelming performance with occasional hints of some greater potential. It’s a sad fact that DiCaprio in ‘Django Unchained’ made a far better Gatsby, than he did in ‘The Great Gatsby.’ He had it as Mr. Candy, the mysteriousness, the darkness, the charm… he was a presence! And sadly in this film, he is none of those things. Tobey Maguire was a horrible choice for Nick Carroway, coming off as whiny and pubescent. Carey Mulligan seems to be unable to convey any emotion (or… act) under the weight of her 20s accent. The rest of the actors are forgettable or bad with the exception of Joel Edgerton who plays Daisy’s husband. Edgerton manages to convey aristocratic brutality and an old-money vibe quite well.
Jay-Z’s soundtrack isn’t good enough to justify a departure from the 20s setting and just becomes anachronistic and jarring. Though the viewer is treated to a 20s party dancing to Lana Del Ray, Beyonce, and Fergie. The soundtrack reflects the failure of the movie itself: it’s anachronistic focusing on modern ideas of celebrity (and failing to integrate or explore these ideas), it’s lazy and unimaginative (‘Young and Beautiful’ seems like it’s played about five times), and it’s too ostentatious and too glitzy for it’s own good. Ultimately this movie is just a waste of energy, just like one of Gatsby’s parties it is a spectacle that is hollow and vapid. Maybe one day there will be a good adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ but this polished turd isn’t it.
People should actually read the fucking authors and the books that they repost. I’m sick of seeing every second intellectual fucker reposting quotes from DFW, Murakami, Kafka /whoever, but never actually read the books. It’s always the most platitudinous parts of the novel condensed for the short attention spans of every fuck head who spends all night on Tumblr wracking up the follows on their blogs filled with other people’s work. Fuck Tumblr, I didn’t even realise this was how this text post was ending, but fuck it. It’s the epitome of everything that’s shit. People making time investments to watch Breaking Bad, but actually grappling with a book over 300 pages is just too much. The best part is when people who think they’re somehow socially conscious reblog quotes from Ayn Rand or whatever other fascist, because a repost doesn’t even merit a wiki search on the person who wrote it.