Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's Movie and Book Review Time!

My week with The Arts....

We went to see "The Great Gatsby" yesterday.  Remembering the, shall we say, unique way director Baz Luhrmann did "Moulin Rouge" a few years back, I was expecting something different with this version of Gatsby, and that's what we got, at least for the first hour or so of the movie.  In that first hour, we got a full sensory overload of over the top CGI shots of New York City and of the legendary parties thrown by Jay Gatsby of West Egg.  After that, though, Luhrmann toned it down and went for more straight story telling.

Now it has been over forty years since I have read "The Great Gatsby", but I recall loving it when it was a high school assignment.  I found it interesting that a number of reviews of this movie stated that the reason none of the film versions of the Fitzgerald novel, and this is the fourth one, have been any good is because, while they tell the story, they fail to capture the elegance of Fitzgerald's writing.  That could well be, but forty years is too great a distance for me to make an informed judgement in that regard.  Perhaps I need to put it on my summer reading list.

I don't rate this a great movie.  I'd say it's worth seeing if you ever read the book, even if it was forty years ago, and Leo DiCaprio was very good in it, as he is in anything that he does.

Our neighbor lent me the above 2002 book, "When the Smoke Clears" by Post-Gazette staff photographer Steve Mellon.  In it, Mellon visits five American cities that have all fallen on hard economic times due to the decline of the industries (steel, textile manufacturing, coal, and the auto industry) that sustained their economies since the 19th century.  It is kind of a stark book, and it made me realize how lucky I was to have had a good education and good jobs throughout my 35 years in the work force.

I'm not sure if the book is in print, but it is no doubt available at your local library.  Kind of a sobering read.

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