Monday, 20 May 2013

A Book To Read After Seeing The Great Gatsby (2013)

                                                                   A shiver-inducing tribute to the emptiness of the Jazz age

Posted By Daisy

‘I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool’. (Daisy Buchanan)
WHAT can I say? I saw the film last night and the characters, story and music are still swirling in my head.

The film is a perfect tribute to the booze and party orgy of the 1920’s prohibition era – all dancing girls with green eye-shadow, and champagne sloshing in vintage coupes, and a thousand tinsel threads raining down upon the party goers who dance a super energetic Charleston.

But behind the great American dream is dirt and poverty. The Valley of Ashes is a no-man’s industrial wasteland between Manhattan and Long Island, its people bored and black with soot, perpetually watched by Dr TJ Eckleberg’s tarnished spectacles on a faded advertising hoarding. Myrtle is exactly as I had pictured her, and the scene in her rented apartment is in stark contrast to Gatsby’s polished parties; grubby feather pillows split open and stick to sweaty bodies, couples have sex in an adjoining bedroom, and drugs are passed from tongue to tongue and washed down with whisky.  As he gazes down onto the street below, Nick realises he neither belongs here nor in West Egg.

Luhrmann ensures that none of the women in the film are portrayed as being classically beautiful – Myrtle (I didn’t even realise it was Isla Fisher) is a pathetic, sleazy creature with an artificial painted rosebud mouth, and Daisy (Carey Mulligan) is ten-a-penny pretty. The dancing women are older and plumper than expected, and Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki) the young golf professional is a sexless beanpole in her long dresses. I like Daisy in the beginning. She’s bright and breezy, floating through life as if behind a gauze curtain, her money shielding her from reality. Gatsby tries to mirror this by smothering her with silk shirts in an odd display of carelessness, but ultimately he tries too hard.

Luhrmann makes the heat another character in the room  at the Plaza hotel, irritating everyone and niggling already-fraying tempers. Cigars and cigarettes sizzle as they are lit and sweat trickles on the back of necks as a busboy chips ice off a huge block to fill the cut-glass whiskey tumblers. For the first time, Gatsby, in his creased pink pin-striped suit, loses control and reveals his true self, if only for a moment, a lock of Brilliantined hair tumbling onto his forehead as he rages at Tom and Daisy and his inability to be a part of their world.

Luhrmann also portrays Nick’s otherness perfectly - he is always behind curtains, listening at partially closed doors or watching from above, always on his own unless someone needs a favour from him.


I watched the film with a continuous nausea, from the swooshing camera pans to Gatsby’s roaring yellow motor car squashing water melon on the road, and the crowds of party-goers swaying in their cars as they roar their way up Gatsby’s lit-up driveway.
I’m going to see it again next week – this time in 3D. I can’t wait.
                                                                                                 Time for a re-read, I think.

Friday, 10 May 2013

A Book To Read When You Know You're Just Being Silly Now

Posted By Daisy
I’VE been up the walls recently. Freelance work is like that. Some weeks there’s nothing, and then all of a sudden your inbox pings with seven feature commissions. So the past few weekends have been spent either interviewing or writing. My kitchen has become a tedious office space, with scribbled papers spread all over the surface of the table, and Post-Its stuck randomly about, saying ‘Las or Los Angeles?’ or ‘Check what year the burning of Cork happened.’
But I knew I loved writing when, after spending twelve hours typing a glossy magazine feature (my first-yippee) one day, and sitting exhausted at midnight on Sunday, with my full time day job to go to the next day, I realised I’d actually do it for free as long as I was published.

Having worked steadily on Friday night and all day Saturday, I had a glint in my eye as I got ready to meet my friends in town on Saturday night. I had been too serious for the past few weeks, and needed to kick back, let loose, and have some fun.

So I kissed a man at a party in my friend’s house after the nightclub. And I now realise that I will be single for the rest of my life. Because I’m still irrevocably, immaturely attracted to bad boys and messers who make me laugh. He entertained us into the early hours, dancing and waltzing and jiving and just having good, clean fun. He made a stupid face in front of the camera when we were trying to take a nice girls-only photo, and insisted on playing such gems as the theme song from ‘China Beach’ (!) and ‘Something’ by the Beatles.
But I knew we were compatible when he held out his hand to silence us, reverentially pressed play on his iPod and ‘Lola’ by The Kinks came on. Lola, the song I played constantly on my Walkman during three weeks of summer camp when I was 15, walking around in my dyed purple flares and checked shirts and long chains and nose-ring. It's the only song (besides Bruce Springsteen’s 'The River') that I know all the words to. We sat delightedly facing each other across the coffee table, singing the words - ‘I met her in a club down in Otto-ho, where they drink champagne and it tastes just like Cherry Co-la’.
Twinkle-toeing it out the door of the party at 4:30am, he took my number. And two days later, he texted.
‘X here. How are you. Did you go out Sunday night.’
Even though I know he’s bad for me, I have been composing a witty reply in my head for the last few hours. Let the games begin.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Elevator Pitch: A doting wife disappears one day after moving to Missouri with her out-of-work husband to help care for his ageing parents. But nothing is as clear-cut as it seems.
It's 'Douglas Kennedy meets Fifty Shades of Grey.'
My friend gave me this book with the caveat that it was 'rubbish'. It took me a few weeks to open it, and I was immediately hooked. It's clever, and depressing and has a great twist. The portrayal of marriage is sad - Nick and Amy were so in love in the beginning and then it normality impedes and it all turns to dust. I liked reading about the beginning of their love, as sometimes I think I am addicted to the excitement at the start of a relationship, and run for the hills as soon as it all begins to fade.