Monday, I began my annual unit on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. This year will mark the 90th anniversary of the publication of The Great Gatsby. We are even going to celebrate by recreating a 1920s garden tea party while we screen the movie. My students are even going to don 1920s attire. My students asked me yesterday which version of The Great Gatsby were we going to watch. My students want to watch the 2013 version starring Leonardo DiCaprio; while I informed them that we will be watching the 1974 version starring Robert Redford. They questioned me as to why. I answered that I didn't like the 2013 version. Granted, both movies are far from perfect, but I prefer the Robert Redford one.
So, I decided that I would do another top 10 list. This is my list of the 10 things I hate about The Great Gatsby (2013). Warning: This post contains spoilers for those who have not read the book or watched the movie.
#10-Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim: I'm all for diversity, but Meyer Wolfsheim was played by a man from India. Under what circumstances in 1920s New York would this man have been able to fix the 1919 World Series. The casting choice was just distracting. Not to mention a haircut in a barbershop that turned in to a speakeasy/hooch bar.
#9-Tobey Maguire as Nick: I like Tobey Maguire, I really do, but I just couldn't make him into Nick Carraway. Sure, Tobey Maguire looks the part, but all I kept seeing was Peter Parker. I don't mean to typecast Maguire, but even when I showed the students picture of Maguire as Nick the first thing they said was "Spiderman."
#9-Baz Luhrmann as Director: I didn't put him higher, because over all it is a very pretty movie, but I was upset the moment I heard he was directing. While I didn't mind the anachronistic moves he made to make Moulin Rouge a hit, but Romeo + Juliet was horrible. It was beyond horrible. Modernizing the movie, but leaving the Shakespeare words. NO...NO...Never...NO...so, most of my problems with the movie fall squarely on his shoulders. And 3D? Why 3D?
#8-Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker: I'm not familiar with her work, but she was not a good Jordan Baker. I saw her with her normal blond hair, and she is a beautiful girl, but that flapper wig did her no favors in this movie. She looked like she belonged to Middle Earth more than Mid-town. Her seductive was laughable, as a matter of fact, I did laugh when she tried to seduce Nick.
#7-The mental institution: Exactly, why is Nick in a mental institution? I know Fitzgerald's wife went to a mental institution, but Nick? For alcohol abuse, the guy who states in the novel that he has only been drunk twice. I know there were a lot of freaking things that happened in and around Tom and Myrtle's apartment, and I know that he experienced many messed up things during the 3 months, but a mental institution? I didn't know the Midwest was the title of a mental institution.
#6-The music: The anachronistic music was so distracting, because nothing says the 1920s like Kanye West and Jay-Z. Also, I don't know the person who decided that Beyoncé should sing Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," but hey yo, that was a bad idea, a very, very bad idea.
#5-The funeral of Gatsby: I don't recall them having Gatsby laid out in his house, but okay, I can let that slide, but where was his dad? You know, Gatsby's dad came to the funeral, right? Not in this movie.
#4-The houses: Why did Gatsby's house look like Hogwarts? Why did Tom and Daisy's house look like a Georgia Colonial Versailles? Why did Nick's house look like the Keebler elves lived there? Not to mention...THEY ALL LOOKED FAKE!!! They looked digitally added. Minas Tirith looked more real than Gatsby's estate.
#3-Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby: Leo was not a bad Gatsby, but seriously, this is the oldest he has ever looked in a movie. Daisy is about 23 years old in the novel, and Carey Mulligan looked to be that age, but Gatsby is only about 5 or 6 years older, Leonardo DiCaprio looked significantly older especially since he was pushing 40 making this movie. FYI, Tom is only 30; making him 7 years older than Daisy. They both looked like dirty old men fighting over this young girl.
#2-Myrtle Wilson's death: Myrtle gets hit by Gatsby's car--a 1922 Rolls Royce. She flies into the air, and then delicately and slowly floats back to the ground, only to appear to have scars incurred during a fight with a fist more than the bumper of a car. As if it's not bad that we see this floating Myrtle once, he makes us watch it twice, for no apparent reason. That was not creative; it was redundant.
#1-The Bromance between Nick and Gatsby: Why does it seem that Leo's Gatsby was more interested in Nick than Daisy. He is stalking the guy from the moment he arrives, which makes no sense because he doesn't even learn who Nick is until much later. Why is he watching him from his window? It's just creepy. I am aware that Gatsby and Nick spend a lot of time together, but really, the long stares at each other drove me absolutely crazy. They are friends; we get it. Maybe they should have gotten a room.
Well, that's why I can't stand that movie. Sure, it's pretty; Sure, it's flashy, but that's why it is a West Egg imitation of the East Egg 1974 movie.
Until next time, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”-F. Scott Fitzgerald