Baz Luhrmann

‘Cymbeline,’ Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo + Juliet,’ and Why Shakespeare Is So Hard to Adapt for the Screen

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When a director does Shakespeare today, it seems there are three options most commonly selected, each of which has its drawbacks. The first is to do a loyal interpretation, maintaining the original setting and time specified by the Bard (for if you’re the type that chooses loyalty, you also may use this insufferable term), but risking the adaptation seeming like an ostentatiously astute encapsulation of a period and lifestyle that’s now irrelevant. The second is to set it in the present day,  underscoring the barbarism, archaism, and/or hilarity of a current societal norm by aligning it with Elizabethan text, but also risking bifurcating the text and its original meaning. The third is to set it somewhere and sometime else completely, avoiding the distraction of current day trappings (Lady Macbeth discovers Seinfeld emojis!), not to mention the equally distracting trappings of Elizabethan imitation (vocal fry is especially noticeable when it’s coming from a ruff-encased throat).
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“Mr. White’s Tighty Whitey Bites,” “Jesse’s Jell-O Acid Tub,” and Other Treats: Links You Need to See

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You know the dangerous feeling of being in a supermarket on an empty stomach, where everything from the dregs of deli chicken salad to frozen tilapia to tabloids plastered in unflatteringly altered photos of John Travolta looking like frozen tilapia not only start to look delicious, but also crucial? Well, I unknowingly must have been hungry while perusing the internet today, because here I am with a shopping cart full of vaguely sustenance-related links.
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The Complicated — And Troubling — Role of Race and Class in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Gatsby’

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Now that The Great Gatsby has opened to favorable audience reviews and not-so-ecstatic critical response, there seems little left to be said about Baz Luhrmann’s garish 3D romance. As expected, Luhrmann’s picture is a mostly faithful adaptation of the book, if not a completely obvious one. And sure, for every shot of Leonardo DiCaprio practically tripping over his wing-tipped feet to reach for the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock, there are thousands of frames filled with fireworks, confetti, champagne, and even the typewritten words of F. Scott Fitzgerald (by way of the ludicrous framing device suggesting that Nick Carraway wrote The Great Gatsby as a memoir to cure his “morbid alcoholism”) flying into the faces of the bespectacled audience. (It’s surprising that the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg weren’t behind Dolby-branded 3D glasses.) You don’t see a Baz Luhrmann film for the subtlety, but one aspect of The Great Gatsby that is surprisingly nuanced is the complicated role that race plays in both Lurhmann’s and Fitzgerald’s cynical treatment of the American class struggle.
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