This isn’t a review, because we’re not allowed to publish one for a few more days. But Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby? First of all, keep calm, it’s ok. It’s better than ok, in fact. For the first two thirds of its almost two and a half hours, Gatsby is a snow globe of a movie, a 3D pop up Art Deco postcard of New York in the roaring twenties. When finally it turns more serious, when the flappers have gone home and the empty Champagne bottles are all thrown out, the movie hunkers down and delivers F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story respectfully. No one will be turning over in their graves over this literary adaptation.
The 2 hour 20 minute movie premiered last night in New York. I wish I could tell you more about the premiere, but that’s also verboten since Warner Bros. sold last night’s premiere party at the Plaza Hotel to the Wall Street Journal. I know they served martinis. So much for that. On Sunday there’s another party at the Top of the Standard hotel after a screening at MoMA. Then off to Cannes, where “Gatsby” will play on opening night five days after its US premiere.
One thing I learned last night: you cannot sit too close to the screen for this movie. You have to sit waaay back. The people who got stuck with the front rows were miserable. I and several others had to scout out seats in the rear of Avery Fisher Hall. Luckily there were plenty.
I did get to talk to Carey Mulligan outside Lincoln Center for a few minutes before the movie began. I told her that her performance as Daisy Buchanan is very affecting. She was thrilled to hear it. Leo DiCaprio signed autographs before going into the theater. His mom, always charming, was beaming. Otherwise, the premiere was cleverly designed to be as disorderly as one of the parties at the Gatsby mansion. And just like the movie, the premiere was in 3D. Only you didn’t need to use special glasses. And just to make it very real, the ticket people were extremely rude and unhelpful.
Because it’s a 3D movie–and Avery Fisher Hall isn’t set up for that– all the upper tiers remained empty on the sides of the theater. Director Baz Luhrmann was so nervous in his opening remarks that he forgot to introduce the cast. But he must have been happy to hear solid, enthusiastic applause at the end.
One thing I can say, which I did say yesterday and this isn’t a review: I love the composed score and musical themes. Not the Jay Z stuff and the rap music, but the instrumental score that permeates the last third of the movie. But the big winner on the “modern’ soundtrack is the family of my late friend Eugene Record. He wrote Beyonce’s hit “Crazy in Love” as a Chi Lites song in 1969. The new version, sung by Emeli Sande, carries over the main sample that Jay Z used years ago to make the Beyonce hit. Ka ching!