04-26-2018  6:39 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Ballots Out For Delivery Today

USPS delivers ballots Wednesday, April 25 for the May 15 Primary Election ...

GFO Announces Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Special Interest Groups

Upcoming events include regional special interest groups, Cuban genealogy talk and a DNA workshop ...

Event: Going Beyond the Flint Water & Housing Crises

Recode invites speakers to discuss the Flint water crisis and its relationship to gentrification, displacement, and housing crises ...

Think & Drink with Rinku Sen and Mary Li

Event takes place Wednesday, May 16, at Alberta Rose Theater ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

The Skanner News Endorsements for May 2018 Elections

Read The Skanner News' endorsements for Oregon, Multnomah County, Portland City Council and more ...

Will HUD Secretary Ben Carson Enforce the Fair Housing Act?

Julianne Malveaux questions HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s ability to enforce the Fair Housing Act ...

Waiting While Black in Philadelphia Can Get You Arrested

Reggie Shuford on the daily indignities African-Americans face in Philadelphia and around the country ...

Black People Must Vote or Reap the Consequences

Jeffrey Boney on the importance of voting in the Black community ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Kam Williams Special to The Skanner News

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is an era-defining, literary masterpiece convincingly capturing the decadence, debauchery and self-destruction of privileged elites living in the lap of luxury at the height of the Roaring Twenties. Set out on Long Island over the course of a very eventful summer, the tragic tale of love and betrayal unfolds from the point-of-view of social-climber Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a nondescript bond salesman who fancies himself a celebrated writer someday.     



At the point of departure, we find him renting a modest cottage sitting in the shadow of a sprawling waterfront mansion owned by Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a self-made man given to throwing extravagant parties for fellow members of high society. Despite having his pick of a glittery litter of gold-digging flappers, the mysterious millionaire remains obsessed with Daisy (Carey Mulligan), an attractive young woman he had dated as a soldier before leaving the country to fight in World War I.           

While he was overseas, she met and married Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), an abusive adulterer from an old money family whose own mammoth estate is located on the other side of the bay. Nick comes to play a critical role in the proceedings once Gatsby learns that he just happens to be a distant cousin of Daisy's.         

Soon, the lovelorn tycoon prevails upon his new, next-door neighbor to serve as a go-between by inviting her over for what she doesn't know is a secret rendezvous with an ex-boyfriend. Sparks fly afresh, and it's not long before all the morally-corrupted central characters end up taking a ride aboard an ill-fated, emotional roller coaster.         

Perhaps more pertinent than recounting further the familiar plotline of a novel we all remember from high school is addressing its reimagining as a visually-captivating, ethereal fantasy by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge). The bodacious director not only shot the New York story in his native Australia, but infused the soundtrack with hip-hop tunes by the film's executive producer, Jay-Z, and wife, Beyonce'.       

Before you join the rush to indict the anachronistic inclusion of rap as blasphemous in a movie supposedly recreating the Jazz Age, consider the fact that historical costume dramas generally tend to tell us more about the period in which they were made than about the one in which they transpire. Why else would anyone see fit to mount a fifth version of Gatsby?       

Reflecting the influences of both its producer and director, this riveting reinterpretation for the Hip-Hop Generation is apt to be best appreciated by fans of mind-numbing gangsta' rap weaned on shallow videos featuring materialistic misogynists enjoying free-flowing champagne while surrounded by a bevy of gyrating beauties. Bravo to Baz for effectively lending his trademark lush and lurid touch to a cautionary classic chronicling the downside of the American Dream!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, smoking, violent images, partying and brief profanity

Running time: 142 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: The Greatness of Gatsby; "Within and Without" with Tobey Maguire; The Swinging Sounds of Gatsby; The Jazz Age; Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the 20s; Fitzgerald Visual Poetry; Gatsby Revealed; deleted scenes; and theatrical trailers.

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