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David Poland

By David Poland

Life With Baz

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9 Responses to “Life With Baz”

  1. lazarus says:

    Surprised, DP, that you didn’t add some editorial comments on today’s news that Luhrman will be adapting The Great Gatsby next, something I imagine will be pretty divisive.
    I’m a big F. Scott fan, and could certainly think of worse directors this could wind up with. And considering how flat the Jack Clayton/Coppola version came out, a new take on the material could use a bit more flash and style.

  2. Noah says:

    The problem with the Clayton version of Gastby was how tacky Gatsby’s parties were and how the characters were viewed with contempt. The thing I find odd about Luhrmann’s take is that he said in the Hollywood Reporter:
    “If you wanted to show a mirror to people that says, ‘You’ve been drunk on money,’ they’re not going to want to see it. But if you reflected that mirror on another time they’d be willing to.”
    I’m sorry, but that’s not what The Great Gatsby is about and I find it tragic that he’s going to use this literary masterpiece (set in my hometown) as some kind of parable for the current economic crisis. Gatsby is a classic work, a timeless one and it seems like a mistake to rejigger the themes to fit what Luhrmann wants to say rather than what the novel actually says. I’m more worried than you, Laz.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    This will infuriate David Poland, but:
    Dave, you’re better than this.

  4. The Pope says:

    I worry for this adaptation from the get-go. Baz started out brilliantly, but it appears to me that he is becoming more and more a one-note director.
    I think if Baz is to bring this fantastic novel to the screen, he is going to have to be something he has never been before: SUBTLE. Fitzgerald dazzled his readers with beautiful prose and behind his he hid all the venal, nasty, brutal violence of The Jazz Age. Mostly, it is away from the page, but when it erupts it really is shocking (when Tom breaks Myrtle’s nose for example).
    What I am most concerned with is his notion as to who Gatsby is. Gatsby made his fortune from bootlegging. He was a gangster. He hung out with and made a fortune from the Chicago crowd (if you’ve read the novel, please note the number of times he is called away to take a call from Chicago… hmm, now who could they be?)
    Also, when Nick meets Gatsby for lunch in the city, who bumps into them but Meyer Wolfsheim (Meyer Lansky) and mistakes Nick for the man with the “gonnection.”
    I would hazard that if George Wilson did not get Gatsby first, the Mob would have taken care of him soon enough.
    And the wonder is that Gatsby is now considered to be such a romantic figure.

  5. The Pope says:

    Sorry. When I typed Meyer Wolfsheim and in parenthesis I put Meyer Lansky, I should have typed Arnold Rothstein, the guy who fixed the 1919 World Series. Fitzgerald even has Gatsby explain that to Nick in the restaurant when Wolfsheim leaves.

  6. Roman says:

    I’m still waiting for Baz to make as fine a film as “Strictly Ballroom”.

  7. I REALLY like Moulin Rouge! and Romeo and Juliet.
    maybe hopefully he will score a hit with the Great Gatsby.

  8. christian says:

    Hey, why not start with a great script?
    Then worry about the brilliant visual frisson.
    Just a wacky thought.

  9. Jeff, please explain?
    As an unabashed Luhrmann fan I appreciated this, Dave. Somebody not just kicking him when he’s down and trying to see something else in him that the cliched mad professor idea that so many paint him as.
    I haven’t read The Great Gatsby so I can’t comment on that.

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“But okay, I promise you now that if I ever retire again, I’m going to ensure that I can’t walk it back. I’ll post a series of the most disgusting, offensive, outrageous statements you can ever imagine. That way it will be impossible for me to ever be employed again. No one is going to take my calls. No one is going to want to be seen with me. Oh, it will be scorched earth. I will have torched everything. I’m going to flame out in the most legendary fashion.”
~ Steven Soderbergh

I feel strongly connected to young cinephile culture. The thing about filmmaking—and cinephilia—is that you can’t keep hanging out with your own age group as you get older. They drop off, move somewhere. You can’t put together a crew of sixty-somethings. It’s the same for cinephilia: my original set of cinephile friends are watching DVDs at home or delving into 1958 episodes of ‘Gunsmoke,’ something like that. The people who are out there tend to be young, and I happen to be doing the same thing still, so it’s natural that I move in their circles.

In terms of the filmmaking, there was a gear shift: my first movies focused on people around my age, and I followed them for three films. Until The Unspeakable Act, I was using the same actors, not because of an affinity for people at a specific age, but because of my affinity for the actors. I like to work with actors a second time, especially if I don’t feel confident casting a new film. But The Unspeakable Act was a different script, and I had to cast all new people. Even for the older roles, I couldn’t get the people I’d worked with before. But when it was over, the same thing happened: I wanted to work with Tallie again in the worst way, and I started the process all over again.

I think Rohmer did something similar around the time of Perceval and Catherine de HeilbronnHe developed new groups of people that he liked to work with. These gear shifts are natural. Even if you want to follow certain actors to the end of their life (which I kind of do) the variety of ideas that you generate makes it necessary to change. And once you’ve made the change, you’ve got all these new people around.”
~ Dan Sallitt