The Great Gatsby is not so great. As a matter of fact, I give it a C+. Read the book by F.Scott Fitzgerald instead - trust me - same use of 2-1/2 hours. I can't explain the problem with the movie except to say it was a lot of flash without substance, and it was trying to be bigger, to have "meaning", and it just didn't get there.
Baz Lurhmann is an interesting director and I liked his Moulin Rouge. The Great Gatsby had the same rich cinematography, eye popping colors, huge cast, dazzling costumes, and decent acting. But, I just was not entranced. As a matter of fact, the theater I was in had a power surge and the movie stopped in the middle for about twenty minutes. I probably could have left without serious remorse. That's not a good sign.
Tobey Maquire narrated as Nick and he did a good job as the wide-eyed observer, protector of his cousin Daisy Buchanan (played by a dewy Carey Mulligan) and in awe of Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DeCaprio). Leo has the look, the intensity, and the panache, and yet...a little something was missing in the connection between him and Daisy. They said all the right lines, but I didn't feel scorching heat or intensity of love. Joel Edgerton, as Tom Buchanan, was suitable as the old money brute, carouser, womanizer, and foe to Gatsby.
There just wasn't a natural flow to the movie. We had scenes that were busy and pretty, and yet the tension didn't build at the pace it should have. It was choppy and disconcerting. With the kick-off of summer movie season, there are plenty of other movie competitors for your dollar. If you must see it, wait for The Great Gatsby to hit Netflix. Go see Ironman 3, or new Star Trek:Into Darkness (that's what I plan to see next) in the theater. And play some serious Jazz Age music, not rapper stuff for 1922. That's just wrong.
It wasn't all food and drink in Vegas. There was a feast for the eyes, too. The Venetian hotel hosted an exhibition of the fifty greatest photographs from National Geographic magazine. Plucked from 125 years of history, these photos and the stories behind the lens were fascinating.
Some of the pictures were taken spur of the moment. Others were planned excursions that yielded magic. This was a cool exhibit - a quiet break from the Las Vegas hubbub.
Let's see - why haven't I written a thing? Ooops. Too busy waking up in Vegas - not really a la Katy Perry. Ray and I stayed up late, but not too crazy. Nonetheless we stayed at The Paris this weekend and it was a really nice hotel. MMMM - pastries.
Las Vegas, Nevada - you have to see it to believe it. Lights, glitz, casinos, carrying drinks on the strip (i.e Las Vegas Blvd), Girls Girls Girls, no clocks, excessive extravaganza, and the smell of money. It is bizarre.
Yep - zoomed from the Paris to the Venetian. This is how Americans travel. No passport needed. You can go from Paris, France to Venice, Italy to Luxor, Egypt. And every place has spotless bathrooms with cushy toilet paper. (best ladies room - the Bellagio). You can gamble as cocktail waitresses ply you with "free" liquor. Oh it costs you money - even the penny slots are a lure.
It was a great weekend. Too much food, too much drink, too much..........and it's desert hot - I don't think we hit 100 F, but it was close. The Stratosphere tower at 1000 feet in the air is way too close to the sun and can fry your brains. We did spend money on observation decks - the Eiffel Tower deck (500 feet) and the Stratosphere at double the height. You can see mountains - they hide silver and gold mines - there's money in them thar hills.
Or just view hotels - here's The Paris. That's entertainment. Each one has a theme, fountains, pools, and bars. They don't want you to leave their premises - that's why they are so freakin' big and you have to walk through their casino to get anywhere. Maybe double bonus poker will call your name or the $5 Blackjack table (hey....Ray....come lose here). As long as you keep it all in perspective - maintain limits and have fun, but don't bet the mortgage.
I didn't do an official post, but my mother's been gone twenty years. She didn't drink. She didn't gamble. But she did like Elvis. She visited Vegas one time with my dad, my Uncle Rick and Aunt Connie, and another couple. They had a ton of fun. So - I thought of her on Mother's Day as I celebrated in Vegas.
I stayed respectable, Mom. You raised me "right"........or what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Pick your own ending to this tale.
Blockbuster season started early - Go See Ironman 3. Huge numbers in Europe and now the USA - all for good reason. This is a really fun number three. Ironman 1 was really good. Ironman 2 was a bit heavyhanded and bulky. Number 3 is just thrilling, clever, and crazy good fun. Get the family, buy the tub of popcorn and the gallon of soda - this kicks off spring/summer and it's our American duty to overindulge.
Robert Downey, Jr. couldn't be better. He's light on his toes, quips galore, and he expresses a vulnerability necessary in our superheroes. He is the whole package. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper shows guts and dons the Ironman gear briefly. Ironman needs her and she needs him. It's a love story. Don Cheadle is the best buddy and he's so darn good - Rah!!!
Guy Pearce is sleazy evil and I mean that as a compliment. He's always good and this is a role he deserves. He's smart, good looking, and unfortunately he chose the wrong side to exploit. His genius is there for Ironman to destroy. Ooops.
Can't forget Jon Favreau - the hapless sidekick who's mostly in a coma for the film. As a security person, he stinks.
Ben Kingsley is The Mandarin - evil incarnate......or is he?? OMG. What transpires here is too funny and the comment about King Lear is to die for. You have to be a Ben fan and know his work. (Insider jokes galore).
So - plenty of Marvel Superhero jokes - hope you have seen the movies to enjoy the humor. Otherwise, stuff blows up. We're saving the world. Ironman has many backup plans. And this is just so much FUN. Go See It.
The Old Bedford School presents their Van Cliburn Concert Series, and it is a great way to appreciate classical music. I need to expand my knowledge, and this series has been a joy.
For my third foray into classical music, I heard Mariangela Vacatello this past Sunday, May 5th. She was a Van Cliburn finalist in 2009 and has enjoyed worldwide success. She performed:
Ravel - Ondine from Gaspard de la nuit I found this to be light and airy. Keep in mind I do not have a professional music vocabulary, but it struck me as vivacious.
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 53 and Waldstein (the Dawn) - with Beethoven I often feel like I know the music. It must show up in movie themes or something. Anyway, this was fairly bright and cheery music.
Chopin - Nocturnes in D flat and Major Borealis She went from light to dark. This was brooding and the Nocturnes proved to be my favorite. Again it sounded familiar.
Rachmaninov - Piano Sonata n.2 in B flat minor So dramatic. Russian piano creation at its best
Her fingers flew and she played with feeling and expression. Vacatello is a tiny thing with long dark hair. Her English with the Italian accent was charming and musical as she explained her choices.
This proved to be a delightful afternoon. I'm grateful for culture in my own backyard (truly - just fifteen minutes from my house - not a flight to La Scala).
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer is a panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and envy can play even in close friendships. (book cover blurb). It is 1974 and six teens at summer camp embark on a journey of lifelong friendship. Julie (now Jules) Jacobson feels at home with this artsy group of misfits. They declare themselves "interesting" and at fifteen, while self-indulgent, they see a bright future ahead for all of them.
Here are the opening lines of Chapter One - On a warm night in early July of that long evaporated year, the Interestings gathered for the first time. ...Julie Jacobson, an outsider and possibly even a freak, had been invited for obscure reasons, and now she sat in a corner on the unswept floor and attempted to position herself so she would appear unobtrusive yet not pathetic, which was a difficult balance.
Oh, that SO sums up being fifteen or sixteen.
But, as we read and learn more about their lives, the group has its winners and losers. Jules becomes a therapist, not the comic actress she had hoped for. Jonah, a gifted guitarist, becomes a mechanical engineer, after an offshoot time with the Moonies. Ethan, ugly and brilliant, achieves success with a hit animated TV show and franchise. His wife, the lovely Ash, is also successful as a director. They are the perfect pair, and yet despair as a child measures on the autism scale. Cathy and Goodman (Ash's bohemian brother) change their lives forever when she accuses him of rape in college. Lines are drawn, and the perfect friendships fracture.
A lot happens from teen angst, hopes, and dreams to adult maturity, love, marriage, children, family deaths, and illnesses. The Interestings is complex and wide-ranging in scope, yet intimate page-by-page. Jules is our main focus and our flawed heroine. Meg Wolitzer is a solid writer and truly delves deep into her characters and life. The reader will recognize these people, and in turn can judge decisions made or ignored. Life evolves and so does this book. The reader will enjoy the good times, be frustrated at times, and root for this group of friends to just live, laugh, and love.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Joanne writes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She has works on Associatedcontent.com, in Shine magazine, A Long Story Short.com, Chicken Soup for the Soul – Kids in the Kitchen, and Silver Boomer productions "Freckles and Wrinkles" plus "From the Porch Swing". She has started a novel. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.