Archive for June, 2013

david brooks’ bad dream

Monday, June 17th, 2013

david brooks’ bad dream, 17″ x 24″, oil on panel, 2013

weimar petraeus

Monday, June 17th, 2013

weimar petraeus, 17″ x 24″, oil on panel, 2013

and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned (after g. wood/ yeats)

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned  (after G. Wood/Yeats), 24″ x 34″, oil on panel, 2013

the peculiar martyrdom of sarah palin (after c. monet)

Friday, June 14th, 2013

the peculiar martyrdom of sarah palin (after c. monet), 24″ x 34″, oil on panel, 2013         (click on image to enlarge)

blue bonnet

Friday, June 14th, 2013

blue bonnet, 17″ x 24″, oil on panel, 2012

the great gatsby

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Finally got outta the shack and saw The Great Gatspy  the other night, mmmmm. Naturally, being a big fan of the 1920’s this latest incarnation was pretty much a must see  and having done so, I’m a little vexed. A year or so ago I re-watched the Robert Redford version and once again it rang a little hollow. Seeing that many consider Gatsby to be the American novel you’d think a film version (with an all star cast, multi-million dollar budgets, and  singular content) wouldn’t be so easy to muck up – not that either of the films are complete disasters, but nonetheless, both are badly wanting in all probability, for opposite reasons. I think both films suffer because the central story devise of a narrator (Nick Carraway) while working in the novel, creates a kind of drag in the films, a distance or remoteness from the interpersonal main theme of love, morality, and money, which is amplified in the main  character of Gatsby himself – who is himself distant and remote.  Essentially, it is this sense of distance and remoteness in Gatsby’s personal character that subliminally informs the moral issues inherent in the novel, but are underplayed in the ultimately timid (and by the book) Redford version and smothered in a carnival of bothersome special effects and bling in the Luhrmann attempt. In the novel, Nick carries the ball for Gatsby through incrementally learning about his real life and telling his story as his experience plays out (with him and the others) in real time, and we experience him/it silently  in our imaginations. But with both films, imagination is left stunted and undeveloped because so little time is spent on the characters themselves and their interaction, except as footnoted vignettes (in the first) or worse yet, meaningful interpersonal dialogue so sparely spaced as to be almost like an irritating commercial interruption to all the ongoing fireworks of spectacle.

The thing is,  The Great Gatsby is a great American novel precisely because it navigates the relationship between love, morality, and money as a human experience. Gatsby, exemplifies his love for Daisy as an act of  pure intent, a love so compelling and willed that he sacrifices his own identity  in an idealized expression of that unquestioning love. He recreates himself into a new (an almost infantile and hapless) personage with all the trappings of false nobility and wealth in order to remove any remaining obstructions to his grand ideal love. The reason why Gatsby is so distant and remote (interestingly, both Redford and DiCaprio play the role almost identically). The problem of course, is that along with with his questionable and dark rise to power, and its ostentatious expression, while perfectly fitting for Daisy’s station in life, also meant that  both his love for and Daisy’s love for him, both came to rest on the same moral plane of  capricious elite morality, where people are to be used and abused, certainly not sacrificed for – and if things go awry  to; “retreat into their money, or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess that they had made”. For Gatsby, his idealized Daisy, like whatever it was he did to achieve her station turned out to be, like countless other motives of merit or success (see Citizen Kane), turned out to be a little more than a phantom of his imagination.

Funny but, in an ironic way this latest attempt to capture Gatsby, director Luhrmann mimics Gatsby’s own plight  through idealizing the audience’s desire, (or is it attention span) by polishing an endemic social syndrome ironed out in the novel into a spectacular cinematic advertisement in the name of great literature that creates an exaggerated symptom  of  illusion as opposed to  anything realized,  revealed, expanded upon, or let alone cured.