Thursday, May 9, 2013

Great Gatsby Review with Real Life

Montreal City Hall from Place Jacques Cartier

Well, as it was to be the last summer day in a little while as temperatures are going to take a tumble, I decided to go into Montreal to take a look, another look, at the membership book of the Montreal Suffrage Association, at the City Hall Archives.

I did that and then had an Italian salad at a bistro across from the City Hall, at Place Jacques Cartier, sitting amidst all the tourists.

Then I took a walk to the Old Port and read a bit by the water and then my husband phoned from work and asked if I wanted to see a preview of the Great Gatsby Movie. He had a pass, from the Movie Guy, ah Entertainment Editor,  at his TV station.

Of course I did.

I got  to Peel and Ste Catherine by 6:30 but fans were already lined up at the theatre, youngish fans as this preview was being sponsored by a local radio station. Virgin 96.

I had a huge pink canvas bag full of change of clothes and my workbooks so the big guys at the entrance to the theatre, wielding giant metal detectors or whatever, wanted to see into  my giant purse.

Of course, my camera was right there in the side pocket. I use it when I go to the archives.

How embarrassing.  I don't think they thought I was a pirate, but I had to leave my camera at the door. Then I dropped my dumb phone turning it off and when the Radio Gal announced the show (and a little Jazz Age Dress UP Contest) she asked. "Has anyone lost a phone? This one is from the 20's I think."

I knew right then it was my phone. My phone is all of 3 or 4 years old. That (apparently) is  a lifetime in tech years.

I didn't yell out anything from my seat.  I knew I could pick the thing up later. More discreetly.

This Great Gatsby was in 3D.  What do you know? So I put on the glasses. And here's a little reivew.

And I found the 3-d rather distracting at the beginning, detracting from the 'art' of it.

 I tried to take my glasses off to see the film  in 'normal' mode, but of course the screen is made for 3-d.

The movie itself, well, it was Moulin Rougish, in 3-d,  but that's no surprise, considering the director. Moulin Rouge sans singing, though.

Great acting, of course, especially by Carrie Mulligan. (I was worried that she might be miscast. It was easy to see that Leonardo and Toby McGuire were perfectly cast.)

And with sumptuous prose, what with the use of the narrator.

I love the book's prose and here with this rather cutting edge Great Gatsby, despite the high tech and the ambitious stylizations, Fitzgerald's prose is still the star of the show.

After all this Great Gatsby movie is intentionally garish, hyper-garish, and Fitzgerald's prose is the opposite..a few gems on a mother of pearl table, or something, elegant and refined.

Indeed, the Director showcases the prose by making Carraway a writer and by having the words fly off the screen.. (He isn't in the book, right?)Thus the restrained words are a counterpoint to the garishness, like a spot of green on a red wall.

As for the 3-d, I must have gotten used to it, because I enjoyed the Great Gatsby the more as I got into it, the more I forgot about the special effects.

I really liked Moulin Rouge and have seen it often. So I like this auteur's signature style. I think I will watch this Great Gatsby without the 3-d, though next time. That's OK, my husband has one weak eye, so he cannot see in 3-d. Many people can't apparently.

There is one 3-d shot though I loved, a  shot of New York Broadway or something at night. It felt as if I were right there on the sidewalk, in the 1920's.

This is all rather ironic, because at the Montreal City Hall archives  I also looked up the 1925 Coderre Inquiry into Vice and Police Corruption, the subject of my play Milk and Water about Jazz Age Montreal.

The transcription of the proceedings was on pdf so I searched for "Jules Crepeau" my grandfather who was implicated in the final report but his name didn't come up. Weird. This particular copy of the inquiry belonged to Mr. Brodeur of the Executive Committee. It seems to me someone cleaned up the  testimony, for some reason. Or they just cut down from 10,000 original pages in a 'respectful' way.

Anyway, I copied out one interesting bit, the testimony of a Chicago "private detective' who had been hired by a Montreal Doctor from the Committee of 16 to check out the bars and houses of ill-repute in Montreal.

The real-life dialogue here is right out of Hollywood, this 'dicks' character right out of central casting.

One of the places he visited was the Bagdad Cafe, a particularly sleazy place, he said.

 I discovered it was right across from the Mount Royal Hotel.

How amusing. The Mount Royal was one of the few sanctioned places for McGill coeds to frequent off-campus in the 1920's. That place and Morgan's department store.

Anyway, I'll transcribe that scene tomorrow.