Wednesday, May 8, 2013


 Nick: “You can’t repeat the past.”
Gatsby: “You can’t repeat the past? Of course you can.”

As early reviews for Baz Luhrmann's heavily-touted, much-anticipated, $127 million, 3D adaptation of F. Scott's Fitzgerald's enduring classic, The Great Gatsby, threaten to duplicate the less-than-sparkling reception of Jack Clayton's equally over-hyped 1974 version; a repost of my essay on the Robert Redford / Mia Farrow starrer appears on the terrific movie site- Moviepilot

Click on the title link below:

Its superfluous 3-D aside, were I 16-years-old (my age when I caught 70s "Gatsby Fever"), I would be all over this rather dazzling-looking remake, critics be damned. It'll be interesting to see how a new Gatsby for a new generation is received. Remakes are a curious and inextricable part of the Hollywood moviemaking machine. Cynical in their calculated desire to recapture what has come before, yet they also possess a very Gatsby-esque type of optimism in hoping that perhaps, "this time" will be different.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
                                                             F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

Copyright © Ken Anderson


  1. I just can’t watch the new version. My niece says that Leonardo is one of the great actors of her generation. While that might be true, when I watch him there is no depth and Gatsby had depth. There was something there with Redford, he was unapproachable to all accept Mia. It was only then that we saw the vulnerability.

    The Redford Gatsby didn’t need 3D and a rewrite. They say that this version is darker, but I came away from the Redford version depressed by them all. I couldn’t find a single redeeming quality among any of the characters. So to see it with an actor who I feel is lacking and supported by special effects has firmed my decision not to try the latest version.

    “Remakes are a curious and inextricable part of the Hollywood moviemaking machine.” Never a truer statement made. But I think it has everything to do with the lack of any real genius left in Hollywood. The only things new are special effects and this is what the new Gatsby promises to offer. It’s like a great singer, if you are listening to one, they command the stage. If you have a half-assed one, they hop all over the place in an attempt to distract.

    No Ken, I have no strong opinions.

    1. Hi Cathy
      To paraphrase an old adage, I guess each generation gets the "Gatsby" it deserves. The ADHD set may relate to all the bells and whistles set to a Jay Z soundtrack, but I might be too old to enjoy a 3D Gatsby. (Honestly, when I first heard about "The Great Gatsby" in 3D, I thought it was one of those fake headlines from The Onion.)
      Your impressions of the 1974 film are on par with what my father thought about it. He found it deeply depressing experience and therefore a rather profound evisceration of the lie of The American Dream. I like how you describe it and what it felt like for you. I'm happy to hear it made you feel something. It didn't try to numb your senses through endless, distancing CGI, swirling cameras, and blaring sound.

      I also agree with you that the only genius left in Hollywood seems to be of the technical variety. That's the only place you'll find anything new being attempted. All else is a search for a "formula" that will produce a moneymaking franchise. I read today that there are to be a whole slew of Marvel comics movies made over the next few years. HELP!. That's corporate business, not filmmaking).
      Your analogy about the singer is quite apt, too. Looking on YouTube, you can see folks like Sinatra, Garland, and Streisand commanding a stage just by being GOOD! No light shows, pyrotechnics and dry ice.
      By the way, I love when people have strong opinions about film. It shows they care. thanks so much for commenting!

  2. So true what you say in your comment about super hero movies: "That's corporate business, not filmmaking"!
    "The ADHD set" ?!?!? Hahahaha!!!!

  3. I have to keep spending money on the "small" movies in hope that they produce. Hollywood needs to realize that we're tired of formula. Comic books come to life and even worse, the obligatory loves scenes and special effects. I want a story line. I crave great writing.

    Ken, thanks for publishing for us.

    1. I'm with you on that one, Cathy. Small films need support. Thanks to YOU for fighting the good fight and not succumbing to the standard Hollywood formula stuff we're being fed so continuously.

  4. I'm a big fan of both Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio. But when it comes to the character of Jay Gatsby, DiCaprio wins, as far as I'm concerned. Aside from two or three scenes, I got the impression that Redford was basically phoning it in.

    1. I agree. It's hard to tell if Redford had much of a grasp on the character. He pretty much let his movie star persona do the acting. I haven't seen the new film yet, but DiCaprio is a favorite and I've no doubt he's a big improvement. Thanks very much for commenting!