“It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Leonardo DiCaprio will have to go a long way to prove a worthy successor to Robert Redford when he and Baz Luhrmann take on a 3D re-telling of The Great Gatsby.
3D. Really? Will the audience be im-Myrtlized in death beneath Tom’s car, or will the sloshed champagne from Jay’s West Egg parties dampen our seats? Either way- does it NEED to? Aren’t Fitzgerald’s classic characters and timeless words enough?
Hollywood continues to attempt to improve upon- or capitalize on- successes of the past. This month we’ve seen Arthur (the original is a mere 30 years old) re-made to mixed reviews, and a full slate of remakes are rumored to be in production, including The Crow and Footloose (both to the dismay of the diehards). There have been recent re-inventions of The Karate Kid, Nightmare on Elm Street, Tron and Clash of the Titans, and even television series have not been spared, with the release of the A-Team movie (Dwight Shultz is the ONLY Howling Mad Murdock in my book) and the Miami Vice that left a Michael Mann-shaped hole in my heart.
What’s interesting is that while fans of each of these original films were largely horrified that these re-toolings were even attempted, by and large, we must admit, admirable work was done. These films were well- shot, well-acted, and overall, they would have been well-received had we gone into them without impossible expectations, clutching our nostalgic notions like old high school mix tapes.
So, knowing that about 50% of the moviegoers will hate the end result, why does Hollywood do it? Because we will go ANYWAY. We will go out of genuine interest, curiosity, or a desire to say “See! I told you it would be shit!”- But go we will.
Whether we like to admit it or not, the receipts don’t lie, and if we truly didn’t want the entertainment equivalent of Wednesday night’s dinner leftovers, we wouldn’t pay to eat them. After nearly a decade in Los Angeles, I can say, to a large extent, it’s about the bottom line, baby.
Is it disheartening to the earnest cinephile? Absolutely! And even more so to the erstwhile author, (of which there are many: inventive, talented-and struggling) who will more often than not have to tone down their unique takes, their idealistic stances and their wild ideas in order to actually sell something and make enough money to allow them their flights of fancy on the independent scene.
Are there still big studio gems? Of course- but they are fewer and more far between. Much like the music industry, the ‘sure thing’ and the ‘safe bet’ seem to be where big businesses are putting their weight right now. But a true lover of great art will find the hidden diamonds…in fact, they will be more beloved to the viewer or listener because they were sought out, and, because of their esoteric nature, we will feel smug that we ‘discovered’ them.
So Netflix that wild indie supernatural-morality-play- sci-fi-thriller. And I’ll see you in line for Gatsby.
* Recommended “wild indie supernatural-morality-play- sci-fi-thriller”- Ink *