Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Great Gatsby 2013

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

When I was in high school, I entered a contest in which I wrote a thesis about "The Great Gatsby;" then, and now, it is one of my favorite novels of all time. What I had going for me even then was a past laden with secrets and a voracious appetite for books, poetry, philosophy, art and music. I remember that my piece focused on the book's battle between Manifest Destiny and the Old Guard. The tightly controlled and linguistically beautifully littered novel has so many things to write "about" that people still grow uncomfortable talking about, writing about, and "figuring out" this novel. I never try to figure anything out, and never have, which is why I think I am able to enjoy the sorrowful sweetness of this novel, for I somehow knew, even as a 17 year old, the pain and glory that exist ever at once in the very act of being alive. I guess I was never a true intellectual but always a poet, even when reading or watching movies.

I saw Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" last night in a special screening at the LACMA...

First of all,

Go see it. Go see it for every reason you do and do not want to see it. Celebrate yourself when you see it, for you are a product of this movie and the movie is a product of you.

Caveat: I think Leo is our greatest living actor after Daniel Day Lewis. Caveat 2 was my admission about my wax nostalgic on the pain of loving this novel. Caveat 3 is that I love Baz Luhrmann's "Strictly Ballroom" and "Romeo + Juliet" is one of my favorite treatments of that play on film. What I am trying to say is this: I am this film's target market. I was so excited when I was invited early to this movie that I jumped up and down. Several times.

My friend thought, after the movie, that it would not be well received: that it doesn't cater to the masses, (what? Jay-Z and his folks did the soundtrack!); that the frame of the film, using Nick Carraway's voice to create a character didn't work for him nor the movie (my friend is the opposite of the masses, by the way); that the editing was odd and the script was bad.

I disagreed completely. But recall what I said above: I never try to figure anything out. I feel about Fitzgerald the way I feel about Rumi. It isn't so much that everything can be completely intellectually compartmentalized and understood but that it can be expressed and received like those "boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past," which is the last line of the novel and a beautiful way to experience it. We are not different than the jazz age, even if the hipsters and the hip hoppers of today are the flappers and the jazzers of nearly 100 years ago.

The book was not well received at its time of publication, so I have read, although now, those of us who romanticize it (like me!!!!) defend it as one of the great American novels. I do this because it somehow blends what is great about America (the ability to dream, to create from that dream, and to do it for love... or fantasy) while exposing and shading in, deftly as a painter, a few harsh truths about America (a history of violence and racism, a love of money and greed, a self-entitled arrogance) while yet battling against the "old world" which America was/is trying to escape (and which it has also now become) in which those who "have" use the marketing myth of simple family values to maintain power and in which no matter how hard one tries, "new money" or "new success" is always one misstep away from crucifixion (tweeting about Justin Bieber being gay whether or not he is without regard to the fact that he is also a person, tearing Brittney Spears apart for going through a crisis when the girl needed help- WE build these people up and prop them up and create the mystical status they enjoy and then angrily tear them down saying "I don't pity them for being young, rich and beautiful," when WE were the ones co-creating them.)

You see, the Great Gatsby is all of these things.

This film is so gorgeous, you're going to want to see it just for the spectacle. It is not only a more fully realized expression of the novel than we have ever seen on film before (I've even seen the black and white Alan Ladd film noir version) but it also taps into "our" "modern" jazz age, hip hop, in a manner that is at once effacing and at once inviting. The art deco designs and dresses and suits pop forth from the screen even without the 3-d effects.... and with an incredible score and soundtrack that is almost too emotionally controlling, featuring everything from Gershwin and Jack White, to Beyonce and Sia, to Beethoven and Kanye and Jay-Z. Luhrmann is a great one for the decadence of the novel....

But the real reason to see this movie- for all that snow globe of art deco imagery, of artsy decadence, of beautiful writing and words poetically expressed against a lush visual backdrop.... for all that INCREDIBLE music and ironic use of racism and outright use of race still prevalent today... for any pensive look from Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Joel Edgerton's (I AM a fan, remember) explosive control, like the US bombing Nagaskai, performance as Tom Buchanan..... for the amazing contrast between color, and its broad painting of the haves and have nots.... for Isla Fisher's almost painful yearning to become a part of new America....

Is Leo.

He is, quite simply, an amazing Gatsby. He is vulnerable, and frightened, and smooth and handsome and glorious all at the same time. He is devious and innocent all at once. He is always laughing and crying just under an obsessive surface, and if at time the obsession comes to bear almost too much, in this film, a special treatment of that obsession slowly unfurls as we learn about his dream of freedom and creation and love and ardent faithfulness to that dream and to that love. And at once the love isn't the love of Daisy and is, Gatsby himself is within and without as is Nick Carraway (the narrator of the book and movie, played by Tobey Maguire), and the love of Daisy is almost more a placeholder and impetus for a love of creation.

So I'm perhaps not cynical enough to explain why my friend didn't like the movie. Maybe I just don't want to go there. After all, I saw the film among fans of the book who dressed as flappers for the occasion. I think there are those who are too smart for their own good and they die angry alcoholics not realizing the beauty of the world, or worse, realizing the beauty of the world and writing about it and yet feeling isolated and alone in a world which "values things rather than cares about them," to quote another Fitzgerald work which I cannot remember but know only the line. It's a beautiful spectacle and I loved the music so much I want to buy the soundtrack.

I think you should all go see the movie, because despite what my friend says, it DOES take something beautiful and literary and prepare it for the masses of 2013. And it exposes a lot about us and a lot about love, just like the beautiful novel. AND. And. And. It is one of Gatsby's great parties, really, to which you are invited to come watch... And it is a HELL of a lot of fun!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Dali of Dreams

...Last night's dreams were blog-worthy....
   
          ...I dreamed that I was in a car being held up by a random person, he seemed like a gang banger from the way he dressed. I his my purse under my sweater but he saw my beautiful gold wristwatch and said, "That looks like a nice watch." I tried to tell him that it wasn't, that I got it for $10 at the bottom bargain clearance sale off of QVC.com but he walked around the car, smashed the window and pointed his gun in my face. "Give it to me," he said. I handed it over and went to surreptitiously grab my iPhone when he said "where's your money?" I shook my head, "no," wondering why no one was calling the police.  A few more gang members surrounded the car and one of them was GARY OLDMAN...

               ...Gary Oldman looked at me and said, without an accent by the way, sounding almost more like Brian Cranston in Breaking Bad, "Give me your money." I handed over my purse. "Look," I said, pulling out my wallet with a picture of my niece in the front see-through pocket, "Don't take this, my passport, or this my social security card, or my iPhone. I'm on my way out of the country...." He hit me in the head with his gun. I blacked out...


                    ...When I came to, I was in a police station, sitting next to Gary Oldman. They were arresting all of us. No one could explain why I, the VICTIM, was being arrested and thrown into ail with the very gang members, and Gary Oldman, who had just robbed and assaulted me. The officer in charge of me was a very beautiful blond woman, beautiful in a 50 year old lawyer, Murphy Brown kind of way. I asked her why I, the victim, was in jail. She said I could talk about that later. I said, "At least let me stay close to this fool. He has my passport!" I nodded at Gary Oldman. She shrugged and said, "Sure."...

                         ...The jail we were put in one was more like an old 19th century hospital. There were no cells, no bars, no locks on any doors, and all of the cops were rather kindly, matronly ladies. I screamed and shouted at the Blonde Officer in charge of me, and she just continued to shrug. "Where was my lawyer?" I asked. I ran through the list of attorneys I knew, mostly all entertainment attorneys specializing in contracts. There was my childhood friend, who was some sort of County Prosecutor. But I figured I'd call my massage client, the most famous attorney I knew, because he was friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger and therefore knew more people and had more money to break me outta this joint...

....The announcement came over an old-school speaker system that it was time for bed. I looked around and there was no bed. "Hey," I called out to Blonde Cop Lady, "where's my bed?" She shrugged and said, "You'll have to share with Gary." Gary and I looked at each other with deep consternation. "Fine," I said, grabbing the full-length body pillow. "This goes between us." He started crying. "I need that body pillow for my rest," he said. I sighed. "Here," I said. "Take it." He smiled and said, "Thank you." "Hey," I whispered, "Where's my passport and my phone and my money!?" "I hid it in a special place where no one can find it and when we get outta here I'll take you to it and give it back to you."...

          ...The next day, they put us to work. My job was in the pantries, sweeping up rat poo poo. The rats were hanging around as well. They were bold, in fact, almost friendly. Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep fear of rats. Deep, strong, visceral, practically debilitating. These rats were so friendly it drove me nuts. They were of every color: brown, black, white and gray. They pooped everywhere. Everywhere! The only way I could keep myself from going completely insane was by singing...

               ...Later, my Blonde Cop Lady came up to me. She was wearing a sort of Oriental peekaboo wiggle dress and lots of eye-liner. It dawned on me she was Rebecca DeMornay. "I heard you singing," she said. I nodded, yes, miserably washing down the pantry floors once again. "Can you sing 'A Tisket, a Tasket?'" I nodded, yes. "Like Ella?" she pressed. "Yes," I said, practically in tears and nauseous from the fear of rat disease. "Great," she said, "Come with me."...

                    ...Michael Bloomberg was getting married for a consecutive marriage in Central Park. They brought me to the stage in front of thousands and thousands of people. I wore a dark purple wiggle dress. The microphone was like my old school 1930's style Shure Super 55. I leaned into the microphone. The band started. "A tisket, a tasket, a brown and yellow basket," I began. The crow went wild. Really. REALLY REALLY REALLY wild. They starting  cheering and I just kept singing and swinging...

                         ...My next appearance, my national TV debut, was to be on a Reality Television Competition called "America's Top MILF." As the finalists, showing off their fashion designs from the most recent competition category "Haute couture hiking and breast feeding outfits for the Modern Milf" and they announced the finalists for the next category (the gal wearing just the shorts and suspenders part of lederhosen, she was also Australian and had very large breasts... well, she was lactating anyway) I came out and sang "If I could turn back time" by Cher. The Crowd went WILD....

... ... ...

...
...

I awoke with a start. it was 7 am and my alarm was going off. Henry was already stretching in a perfect down dog. It was Thursday morning. I felt hung over even though I haven't had a drink of alcohol in years. It had all been a dream! Just a... frightening, bizarre, and yet wonderful dream!

I decided to share it with you all here on the public intergalactic interwebs because anyone who knows me will know that it features my two biggest, most irrational fears (Wrongful Incarceration and RATS) and my biggest DREAMS (singing in Central Park in NYC to thousands of fans who actually WANT to hear me sing, singing on television, hanging out with Gary Oldman- I mean, Immortal Beloved and the Professional, for goodness' sake!).

Time to walk the dog!

love,

Erin E, 'the Dali of Dreams'