Afterimage: Funny, Gatsby doesn't look Jewish
Gatz, Jay Gatz. He couldn't have been more Jewish had his parents named him Israel Hebrewstein.
Matthew drew review duty, but I couldn't resist chiming in. I could be wrong, but my high school English teacher taught her students that the reason F. Scott Fitzgerald had Jay Gatsby change his name and hide his heritage was in order to assimilate. When Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) refers to Gatsby as being a member of "kike" Meyer Wolfsheim's "bunch," he doesn't just mean the mafia.
This is Hollywood's third unsuccessful stab at bringing Fitzgerald's apparently unflimable novel to the screen. Actually, it's the fourth if you count the long lost 1926 version starring non-Landsman Warner Baxter. At least Al Jolson, Jerry Lewis, and Neil Diamond had the lack of foreskin needed to convincingly make it as Jazz Singers. (We don't count Danny Thomas.) Each time Hollywood manages to find the most goyisha kop actor on the lot to star as Gatzby.
Alan Ladd, the dullest, most unnecessary dialog provider the star system ever fabricated, as Jazz Age Jay? What synagogue did he spend the High Holy Days in? Robert Redford? I doubt he ever read the book! In his defense, the Sundance kid would sooner get circumcised than alter his haircut to fit the period.
And now Rebbe Lenny, who actually does quite well, give or take a dozen "old sports." But I still have to question why they didn't remain more faithful to Fitgerald's vision by casting someone more -- how you say, ethnic? -- like Adrien Brody. Oh, yeah. It's a Baz Luhrmann production. Forget I asked.
On the plus side, the CG linen postcard backdrops are pleasing to the eye and to his credit, this time Luhrmann didn't edit a picture in a Cuisinart. One more Gatsby gripe: Clutch Cargo had a wider range of facial expressions than Toby Maguire. At least the corners of the Synchro-Voxed cartoon character's candy box red lips aren't always curled downward at the corners. Acting as narrator, it's more grating every time he opens his mouth, as Maguire's consummate brand of bland persistence slows down every frame in which he appears.