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Gatsby Casting: Still A Sticking Point?

6 Jul

I know it’s been a long (long long long) time since the casting and shooting started on Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby and I’m still highly skeptical. Very skeptical. First I was put off by the fact that Baz found the need to shoot the film in 3D – I still don’t understand this logic. 3D works best when there’s a lot of action, not when it’s a tender talkie (unless he’s trying to reinvent the image of 3D, which is admirable in a way but still a bit… pointless). Still, that’s just a small quibble when compared to the casting of the film. Well, the casting of one character in particularly.

I have no qualms with the following: Carey Mulligan is wistful and pixie-like enough to be airy-fairy irritator Daisy, while Leonardo DiCaprio is the obvious choice to play our eponymous hero as he’s one of the only modern actors I think is suave but also quietly ponderous enough to play Jay. No, I have a huge issue with Carraway, our narrator and eyes through the story, because Baz has cast Tobey Maguire.

Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with Tobey Maguire or his acting. He’s great in the likes of Pleasantville and was the perfect Spiderman (his adolescent, almost nervy performances were what you wanted in a Peter Parker, not Andrew Garfield’s too-cool-for-school approach). But… he’s just not Carraway. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book, Carraway is a man who intimates the strain of his own life, how he has had to struggle through, and he presents a world-weariness, an almost depressed view of the world. For every time he mentions the brilliance of the metropolis, there’s some downer to go with it. The Jazz Age isn’t so great for Carraway, and his conclusions at the end of the novel sum up his attitude to life and the world around him.

Tobey Maguire just doesn’t scream ‘world weary narrator’ to me. Despite some stills and his attempts to look more manly, I can’t shake the fact that Maguire looks a bit too young and fresh (still!) to be Carraway. You’re probably thinking: ‘well, smartypants, who should play Carraway?’ Yes, admittedly the options seem a little bit limited nowadays. I am, though, tempted to suggest Michael Fassbender as an alternative Carraway – more rugged, more beaten by life and just a bit less adolescent.

Of course, Maguire could prove me completely wrong and be the biggest revelation I’ve seen, producing a pitch-perfect Carraway that defies all expectation and if he does, all power to him. Until that happens though, I’ll remain skeptical.

Marty ‘Quits’ Film… But Not Like That

29 Jun

I’ve got to admit that when I saw that Martin Scorsese was apparently ‘quitting film’ I nearly had a minor heart attack – Marty has shaped a lot of my film experience and his enthusiasm for the medium and auteur status was part of the reason I developed a strong interest in the whole area. Luckily, it was all a little bit misleading. What was actually the case was that Marty was abandoning film reel in favour of digital, not the practise of making film. Well, there’s a sigh of relief!

It’s sad though that a form of capturing film that has been used for over a hundred years is losing its biggest champion. Scorsese has been restoring old fim stock and classics such as The Red Shoes for posterity, but it seems that even he thinks that it’s a lost cause in the age of digital technology. His long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker said: “The number of prints that are now being made for release has just gone down, and it would appear that the theatres have converted so quickly to digital.” Scorsese’s last picture, Hugo, was, perhaps ironically, a film about the birth of cinema that was shot in digital and it seems as though he has no intentions of giving up digital now (although he is abandoning 3D after his foray with Hugo, thank God) – he’s using the format to shoot his latest movie The Wolf of Wall Street, which starts production in August.

It’s all a bit sad but it seems like a strangely familiar story…

Oh yes, that’s right. There was a mass abandoning of CDs and vinyl when the internet and newer technologies took over the music industry, and everyone thought that the old formats would die. But events such as Record Store Day, led by stores, bands and labels such as Rough Trade, have increased the nostalgia and demand for the vinyl format and the market is growing. Albeit, it’s never likely to take over the internet and digital media as a way of consuming and buying music but it shows that people never really forget what came in the past.

Now, obviously people aren’t going to have piles of film reels lying around their houses and a musty old film projector to watch them in their own homes, but I daresay within a while there’ll be events dedicated to showing old film reels, shunning the old ways. A new generation of directors might even want to create their work on this format to give a more ‘authentic’ or ‘classic’ feel.

Perhaps then, despite this rather sad news that potentially marks the end of an era, there’s a lot of hope that film reels won’t be forgotten about in the digital age. It might have lost one of its last remaining champions but it could well be back in the future.

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