I read The Great Gatsby when I was in high school, or possibly early in college. Whenever it was, I knew that it was often considered to be The Great American Novel, but not enough to understand why. I wasn't particularly impressed with what I read. Later, I began to read essays and reviews that explained why it had been critically acclaimed for so long and I developed an appreciation for, well if not for the actual book, for what it stands for, its deeper meaning.
I had a similar experience with the film Citizen Kane. Upon first watching it, I couldn't understand why it was so often rated as the greatest movie ever made. The story just wasn't that interesting to me. But after watching numerous documentaries and critical commentaries, I can now see the great artistry that went into creating it.
Gatsby has been made into a film on numerous occasions, mostly notably in 1974 with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. None ever garnered much critical acclaim.
I had some high hopes for this new one. Starring Leo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire and directed by Baz Luhrman with added musical numbers and filmed in 3-D all said "interesting" to me. Well maybe not the 3-D part as that whole concept has grown stale, but Luhrman is a fascinating filmmaker and I was anxious to see his take on this classic tale. Critical reception has been mostly poor and it didn't fair any better at the box office, but I'm still willing to give it a shot.
I find that ambitious films that bomb in the theatre often prove themselves to be really rather good when they come to the home market. It's the reverse of that feeling that comes when a movie has been hyped too much to be any good; these films are sometimes so panned initially that my expectations are lowered enough to actually be able to enjoy the movie. Of course sometimes they're just really bad movies too, but I'm not going to let that negativity from keeping me from making The Great Gatsby my Pick of the Week.
It comes in a variety of packages on home video the most robust of which is a Blu-ray 3-D/Blu-ray/DVD/Ultra Violet combo that comes with a number of featurettes on various aspects of the film plus the trailer for the 1926 silent film based upon the book.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Pain & Gain: I really rather loathe Michael Bay and all he stands for, but there is something about this film that makes me want to see it. I can't quite put my finger on what it is about this one that makes me think it will not be the usual all flash and no substance explosion-fest that is the usual for Bay, but whatever it is I'm ready to put aside my hatred and see what this has in store.
To Be Or Not To Be (Criterion Blu-ray): A slapstick comedy set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. That's all I need to know. Read the review by Kristen Lopez.
Koch: I know Ed Koch from his days on The People's Court. As a kid I thought he was funny and weird, which was wild to me for him to be a judge. It wasn't until later that I realized he had been mayor of New York City. I've since learned what a truly interesting person he was. This is a documentary about his life created just before his death earlier this year.
Sons of Anarchy: Season Five: I had just started watching this show before I had to move and cancel my Netflix subscription. Eventually I'll get back to it, especially as my friends continue to praise it.
The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season: I am perpetually surprised at just how popular this show is, especially amongst some of my more conservative religious friends who usually balk at a little bit of cussing in their TV but have fully embraced the intense violence produced here. Personally, I have a hard time getting past the atrocious acting and terrible decisions made by the characters, but in the end I'm just happy to see more zombies on the television.
Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder (Criterion Collection): Five films by the influential German filmmaker.