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December 19, 2008 | Comments ()


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Civilization's Going to Pieces

Reserving Judgments is a Matter of Infinite Hope / Dustin Rowles

Trade News | December 19, 2008 | Comments ()


Look: I don’t have a problem, really, with a movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. From what I can gather, the previous attempts weren’t particularly good, and I haven’t bothered to have my fondness of the novel tainted by a hack job (even one written by Francis Ford Coppola). But if you’re going to do another Great Gatsby movie, you need the right director for the material. And The Great Gatsby deserves somebody like Whit Stillman, maybe Marc Forster or maybe Jonathan Demme or Noah Baumbach (if you’d seen Mysteries of Pittsburgh, you’d know that Rawson Thurber would’ve been a great choice, too).

But Baz Luhrmann? I got no problem with Luhrmann, who bought the rights to Gatsby and will be working quickly to get it on the screen to erase the box-office disaster that has been Australia. He’s great at what he does. As long as what he does isn’t The Great Gatsby. Lurhmann does big films - epics with glitter and swish. He does tuberculosis musicals and war epics about bombing the shit out of sheep. He makes Shakespeare schmancy. But The Great Gatsby isn’t a schmancy book.

Oh, sure: There is a lot of period details Luhrmann could capture, and he’d undoubtedly do up the Jazz Age excesses. But I almost feel like Nick Carraway would become an afterthought in his movie, and that Luhrman wouldn’t properly deal with Gatsby’s private internal struggles. And he’d probably press hard on the theory that Carraway was gay. And that doesn’t really have a place in a Great Gatsby film.

F. Scott Fitzgerald warrants a more intimate treatment, and Luhrmann wouldn’t understand intimacy if it slapped him with its dick.

(How great would Jon Hamm be as Gatsby, though? Ryan Gosling as Nick and Rachel McAdams as Daisy, just to bring some real-life conflict to the story.)


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