Sunday, May 12, 2013

Movie on Mother's Day

Today was Mother's Day and I couldn't think of anything to do or find anything to buy that was special enough for my mom. So I just bought her a nice card and took her out for dinner and a movie. I was pretty excited to see this film. F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the same name had touched me so when I read it for the first time in 10th grade, so I had high hopes. Plus, I paid for the tickets and I wanted my money's worth! I can't say that I was completely disappointed. But oh, what this movie could've been.

Seen Sunday May 12: The Great Gatsby

Read the book. That's all the summary you'll get from me on this one.

What I really like about this movie: This film is stunning. The colors, the lights, the people, the hair, the clothes, the mansions, and the furniture are all beautiful. Even the snuffed-out cigars, the sweat, the fog, and "the valley of ashes" are beautiful. This movie is so wonderfully shot, designed and styled that there was nothing in it that didn't please my eyes. I only wish that I hadn't watched it in 3D. I felt like I was watching a cartoon and my eyes got so irritated trying to focus that my head hurt.

This song. This song right here. I wasn't crazy  about most of the music choices made, as I will discuss in the next section. But when "Young and Beautiful" by Lana del Ray started playing, I was in awe. Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful? Not wanting to age even though you know it can't be avoided; longing to have what you once had while trying to hold onto the current moment; hoping to please your lover, make them understand, make them stay; wanting to believe that you still and always will have a place in that person's heart. As they should, the themes in this song connect directly to the complicated relationship of main characters Gatsby and Daisy. "Young and Beautiful" is dripping with love and sorrow, and I love it.

What I don't like about this movie: There wasn't anything about this movie that completely threw me off. There were just numerous little things that unnerved me. The music did it the most. While I would appreciate not having to see and hear Jay-Z and Beyoncé everywhere and all the time, I appreciate them as artists. It's a wonderful accomplishment for Jay-Z to have been executive producer of this film and its soundtrack. That being said, I expected to hear something new and refreshing. Refreshing! Not echoes of "No Church in the Wild", "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)", and "Empire State of Mind". Not an annoyingly tame cover of "Crazy in Love". Not a butchered, mechanical, space alien cover of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black", which shouldn't have been meddled with in the first place. You had scenes set in the 1920s, framed with a mix of jazz and hip-hop music to make this film resonate more with 21st century ears. Pretty cool, right? Chaos and confusion are prevalent features of the novel and this film, and the multiplicity of sounds matched this at the appropriate moments. But there was a little too much noise, and a little too much of what I've heard before. It was distracting.

Overall, I wish I could say that I loved 'The Great Gatsby'. I really do. But this movie felt so empty and simple to me. It is visually beautiful, but something is just... missing. There is no soul in this film. It stays true to the book, and many important symbols like the green light and Dr. T.J. Eckleburg's eyes are included. The problem is that it tells the story without the substance. I think it's ironic that this film embodies exactly what Fitzgerald critiqued in his novel: excessive beauty and richness that's fast-paced and enthralling, yet shallow and careless. I'm sure this wasn't intentional. What I'm not sure of is whether this is the film's great failure, or its backward, inadvertent achievement.

Would I recommend it?: Sure.

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