Under the New York Times headline “Shimmying Off the Literary Mantle,” A.O. Scott reminds us that a film adaptation doesn’t always need to be a book’s conjoined twin. Especially when the book is already everything a novel needs to be.
The best way to enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s big and noisy new version of “The Great Gatsby” — and despite what you may have heard, it is an eminently enjoyable movie — is to put aside whatever literary agenda you are tempted to bring with you. I grant that this is not so easily done. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slender, charming third novel has accumulated a heavier burden of cultural significance than it can easily bear. Short and accessible enough to be consumed in a sitting (as in “Gatz,” Elevator Repair Service’s full-text staged reading), the book has become, in the 88 years since its publication, a schoolroom staple and a pop-cultural totem. It shapes our increasingly fuzzy image of the jazz age and fuels endless term papers on the American dream and related topics.
Through this fog of glib allusion and secondhand thinking, the wistful glimmer of Fitzgerald’s prose shines like the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. If “The Great Gatsby” can’t quite sustain the Big Ideas that are routinely attached to it — a fact that periodically inspires showboating critical contrarians to proclaim that it’s not such a big deal after all — it nonetheless remains a lively, imaginative presence. The book may not be as Great as its reputation, but it is also, partly for that reason, better than you might expect. It is flawed and flimsy in some ways, but it still manages to be touching, surprising and, in its bittersweet fashion, a lot of fun.
I will be going to Cannes on Monday. I will also be writing for The Wrap. Living in Cinema’s Craig Kennedy will be attending the fest. It’s all very exciting because this is probably the best Cannes fest I’ve seen since I started going, though it’s always one of the best things that happens in film all year, anywhere. Because the fest is so crammed full of great flicks it’s going to be tough fitting them all in.
They show movies at night on the big screen right on the beach. On the 21st, they’re showing … Jaws.
Oprah Winfrey has long talked about what it would mean to her to win an Oscar. She got close with The Color Purple, but as we know, that movie was nominated for ten Oscars, missed the director nod, and went home empty handed. It was one of the last films with an all black cast to make it to the Oscars until Lee Daniels’ Precious. Now, both Lee Daniels and Oprah Winfrey are back with a film that has a mixed cast. The way I figure it, Oprah isn’t going to have to do much to win as long as there isn’t too much competition. Then again, we can’t put anything past an Academy that loves to see powerful people lose. Still, early word is that Winfrey is the standout. This, from an early, private screening in New York.
Two sources — neither one affiliated with Harvey Weinstein or his film company, which is behind “The Butler” — told me Wednesday that the television mogul is outstanding playing the wife of Forest Whitaker’s title character.
Directed by Paul Greengrass, starring Tom Hanks, about the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama – Captain Phillips has much heft behind it in the producing department, the same people behind The Social Network – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca. Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd (Hurt Locker, United 93). You’re possibly looking at one of your Best Picture contenders but it is, of course, too soon to know.
Though he’s mostly known for the Bourne series now, Greengrass got an Oscar nod for United 93 but, for whatever reason, the film was deemed “too much of a downer” for voters overall.
“An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.” The film stars Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman. It revolves around magicians. In my day this movie was called The Grifters and it was hard core. But hey, times have changed.