Jay-Z! Kanye! Jack White Doing U2! The trailer for Baz Luhrmann's upcoming adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" caused a bit of an uproar as soon as it landed on the internet on Tuesday afternoon. Some thought it was a beautiful and extremely encouraging sign for what's to come, while others found it overblown and generally disappointing.
Here at HuffPost, two of our editors -- Kia Makarechi on Entertainment and Andrew Losowsky on Books -- found some time to chat about the film's casting and overall aesthetic. Read their comments on the trailer below, vote in the poll that follows and weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments. The film hits theaters on Dec. 25.
Makarechi: First off, I'm a bit ashamed to admit I had high hopes. The song -- I don't think the anachronism bothered me so much as its irrelevance. It's too obvious to use for anything other than mood. The title and the scant few relevant lyrics ("No Church in the Wild," "Love is cursed by monogamy," "What's a god to a non-believer, who don't believe in anything?") seem like too pedestrian of a connection to be included. Also, they should have cut out Frank Ocean's vocals and just used the bass line.
Losowsky: I loved what Luhrmann did with "Romeo and Juliet," but that was a tale of youthful exuberance. "Moulin Rouge" was ridiculous and enjoyable, but that was a melodrama. "Gatsby" is a different beast altogether. It's a tale of extravagant boredom, of wealth that exists seemingly without consequence, romanticism that fails to gloss over love. I have no problem with loose adaptations of novels -- they are, after all, different media, that have different narrative demands and expectations. But the biggest question is, does it still feel like "Gatsby"?
My first issue is with the casting. The eponymous character is a blank slate, on which stories great and evil can be placed with equal ease. Think Viggo Mortensen in "A History of Violence"; the movie rests on the ability to stare at this man and think "Could he?" Leo, on the other hand, is famously baby-faced. He couldn't let the shadow of war and bootlegging shudder through his visage, even if he wanted to. He doesn't have the cheekbones.
Also, though he's perfectly fine in some movies, he mostly does have three ways of acting, all of which are in evidence in this trailer: Leo smug. Leo sad. LEO SMASH.
If Mortensen isn't available (or can't be made to look convincingly enough "a year or two over thirty" as the book has it) then how about Michael Fassbender? The immensely creepy "Prometheus" trailer should convince you of his ability to make you both like and fear him through a simple smile.
Makarechi: After "J. Edgar," I'll never doubt that studios believe Leo can play anyone. But Gatsby seems more textured than Leo -- more subtle. Leo's roles, from "Catch Me If You Can" to "Inception" to "The Departed," revolve around a certain pace that seems out of sync with something like Gatsby. There's a different sort of urgency, one that is more pained and less deliberate, to Gatsby's character. I can't see Leo handling the crippling insecurity that Gatsby faces and then making the transition into a man emboldened by love to the point of standing up to the brutish Tom Buchanan.
Makarechi: Carey Mulligan as Daisy. Daisy, who Fitzgerald brilliantly describes as speaking with "an unthoughtful sadness," is so far removed from the quiet charm we've come to know Mulligan for her inclusion seems an insurmountable conflict. She'd be better suited by a Michelle Williams, or someone like a younger Jessica Simpson (half joking on the latter).
Losowsky: Carey Mulligan is a little too elfin for my liking. Daisy is a girl pretending to be a woman; Anna Kendrick or, perhaps better, Abbie Cornish seem more suited to the role.
Losowsky: Since I first heard of his being cast, Maguire never convinced me as being able to portray Nick Carroway. Though he can pull off the cheeky smile of privilege well enough, as an actor he's not bold enough to mistakenly appear confident, then lose his ability to keep up with events, and then end wiser and sadder in the end. Let alone sweep a champion golfer off her putter.
I'd prefer to see Zac Efron in the role. He played the ingenue brilliantly in "Me and Orson Welles," while also proving he could play the second string to a charismatic bastard extremely well.
Makarechi: Tobey Maguire as Nick just seems wrong to me. All of "The Great Gatsby" comes to us from Carraway, who must be someone with a larger presence. Nick is funny -- really funny -- and arrogant yet self-aware. Tobey Maguire is Spider-Man. I can't see him affecting "a haunting loneliness in the metropolitan twilight," as the text will demand of him. It's just wrong. Give it to someone like, and I really hesitate to say this, Gosling.
Maguire and DiCaprio look like they're playing dress up. Gatsby, of course, actually is playing dress up, but at least he's doing it in clothes that don't look like he put them on for the first time.
Losowsky: However, what troubles me most about the entire affair are the nature of the onscreen parties. In the book, they are redolent of cocktails and boredom, filled with attempts to provide fleeting distractions from tiresome conversations among uninteresting people. When Fitzgerald writes "between the numbers, people were doing 'stunts' all over the garden while happy vacuous bursts of laughter rose toward the summer sky," I'm not sure he was thinking of bacchanalian set pieces that would rival an orgy staged by Bono and Julie Taymar for the joint birthdays of Russian oligarchs and Silvio Berlusconi. Yet this is what we are being presented. In glorious 3-D at that.
Based solely on this short trailer, this movie looks like it's going to be a spectacular, blockbusting melodrama of epic proportions. It might make for great cinema, but it certainly isn't "Great Gatsby."
Makarechi: On another note -- I hope they don't cut out the scene in which Daisy and Tom eat fried chicken after the first bout of catastrophe. I like that scene.
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