The other day I went to this great little macaroon store around the corner from my house and I had a buttered popcorn-flavored macaroon. Buttered popcorn, especially the kind you get at the movies, and baked goods are two of my favorite things in the whole wide world, so the combination of the two had to be great, right? Well, the Orville Redenfaker cookie didn't really taste like my favorite Cineplex treat. It was salty and the taste was sort of based on popcorn, but it was totally different. However, it was still delicious, because it had the flavor profile (God, I sound like a Top Chef rerun) but a totally different mouth feel (shoot me now). It was great. And when I had real actual popcorn a few days later, it made me appreciate that even more after the strange facsimile I'd had previously.
The Great Gatsby novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the popcorn in this extended metaphor and The Great Gatsby movie by Baz Luhrman is the sacriligeous macaroon. Before the movie even opened this weekend, countless literature lovers have opined on Facebook and Twitter and at cocktail parties (which is like IRL Facebook and Twitter, but with more booze and without the reverberating echo) that trying to adapt the movie is some sort of personal offense that would cause every copy of the book to spontaneously combust. Like making a movie based on the high school junior year staple would somehow ruin something that is considered the "great American novel." All of these people need to shut up.
First of all this is a tired reaction that every fan of a book has when studio execs attempt to adapt it into a movie. Enough already. We get it, smarty pants, you're outraged that vile Hollywood wants to capitalize on this brilliant thing and destroy it forever. Fill your fan forums up with something else, because this argument is as tired as Lindsay Lohan's parole officer on rehab check-in day. Secondly, the book and the movie based on the book are two different things. They are popcorn and a popcorn cookie. You will never mistake one for the other and consuming one won't make anyone think that they don't have to bother with consuming the other.
As soon as everyone understands that these two objects can exist simultaneously in the universe based on their own merits, we'll all be OK. Comics fans learned decades ago that the Spider-Man movies have nothing to do with the quality or sanctity of the Spider-Man comics. And don't get us started when they get all the reboots, TV series, and cartoons. Bookworms should learn what geeks have known forever: loving a character in one format often leads to loving it in another. What is so bad about a movie driving people to your favorite book? Are those readers somehow less pure or something?
Plenty of idiots still waiting to get to 12th grade will watch the movie thinking that it will tell them everything they need to know to write their term paper. Yes, they'll get the plot, but they'll miss the substance, the beauty of the language, and all the extra special treats you get from reading the book. But they weren't going to read it anyway. It's not your problem to save them. Their ignorance is thier own punishment.
Everyone who has already read it, how does a movie version harm your memory of having read and enjoyed the book? It does not. Hollywood has been churning out adaptations since it was nothing but a glimmering desert wasteland in Louie B. Mayer's eye and somehow, miraculously, litearture is still alive and well.
In fact watching the movie version, much like eating that crazy cookie, can make the work of literature you love even better. You've been thinking about that book so long and hard, you've only seen it one way. A movie made by a director (a piece of art inspired by another piece of art) lets you see what another great thinker saw in his head when he was reading. You may agree, you may disagree. You may think that his vision is full of s**t and that there is no way that Tobey Maguire looks like Nick Carraway, but that will make you reexamine your own thesis. It might prove you wrong and make you reexamine the way you've always interpreted a scene or character or it may be so wrong that you rage against it and it only strengthens your original idea of the text.
I'm not saying you have to like the movie. In fact, you are welcome to go see it and tell everyone why it is a steaming pile of s**t if you want. You can love it as well, but go and see the damn thing before you make any sort of judgment against it. Don't judge the movie by the book cover! Or, if you want to preserve the schoolhouse sanctity of your memory, don't go see it at all. That's fine too.
But don't rage against the idea of it. That's just as stupid as writing your English AP essay based on the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter. Just be at peace with the fact that no matter what you say and do, novels will turn into films and some will be great and some will be lousy. Give some of them a shot and you might at least enjoy the popcorn – and maybe even the cookie that tastes nothing like it.
Follow Brian Moylan on Facebook and Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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The historical epic will go head-to-head for Best Motion Picture (Drama) with Argo, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi.
Meanwhile, Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in the movie, scored a mention for Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture (Drama), while Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones picked up nods for their supporting roles and Steven Spielberg landed a nomination for Best Director.
Lincoln is also nominated in categories for Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score, taking the tally to seven, while Ben Affleck's thriller Argo and Quentin Tarantino's drama Django Unchained trail with five nominations each.
In the TV categories, some of the small screen's biggest names are going head-to-head for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama. Boardwalk Empire's Steve Buscemi will take on Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, Homeland star Damian Lewis, Mad Men's Jon Hamm and Jeff Daniels of The Newsroom.
All the actors' shows will also do battle in the category for Best Television Series - Drama, while there are also nods for Lewis' Homeland co-stars Claire Danes (Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama) and Mandy Patinkin (Actor In A Supporting Role In A Series).
Hit British period drama Downton Abbey has two nominations, for Dame Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery, while singer Adele is nominated for her hit James Bond track Skyfall, which will compete in the Best Original Song category.
The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards, co-hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will take place on 13 January (13) in Los Angeles.
The nominations were announced by actors Ed Helms, Megan Fox, and Jessica Alba in Beverly Hills, California on Thursday (13Dec12) and the complete list is as follows:
Best Motion Picture - Drama
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture - Drama
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard - Rust And Bone
Helen Mirren - Hitchcock
Naomi Watts - The Impossible
Rachel Weisz - The Deep Blue Sea
Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture - Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Richard Gere - Arbitrage
John Hawkes - The Sessions
Joaquin Phoenix -The Master
Denzel Washington - Flight
Best Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Silver Linings Playbook
Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
Emily Blunt - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Judi Dench - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
Maggie Smith - Quartet
Meryl Streep - Hope Springs
Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
Jack Black - Bernie
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
Ewan McGregor - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Bill Murray - Hyde Park on Hudson
Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
Amy Adams - The Master
Sally Field - Lincoln
Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Nicole Kidman - The Paperboy
Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
Alan Arkin - Argo
Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Best Director - Motion Picture
Ben Affleck - Argo
Kathryn Bigelow - Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee - Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty
Tony Kushner - Lincoln
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
Chris Terrio - Argo
Best Original Song - Motion Picture
For You - Act of Valor
Not Running Anymore - Stand Up Guys
Safe and Sounds - The Hunger Games
Skyfall - Skyfall
Suddenly - Les Miserables
Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Life of Pi
Best Animated Film
Rise of Guardians
Best Foreign Language Film
A Royal Affair
Rust and Bone
Best Television Series - Drama
Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
The Big Bang Theory
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hatfields & McCoys
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels - The Newsroom
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Damian Lewis - Homeland
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama
Connie Britton - Nashville
Glenn Close - Damages
Claire Danes - Homeland
Michelle Dockery - Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Don Cheadle - House of Lies
Matt LeBlanc - Episodes
Louis C.K. - Louie
Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Zooey Deschanel - The New Girl
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Lena Dunham - Girls
Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation
Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Kevin Costner - Hatfields & McCoys
Benedict Cumberbatch - Sherlock
Woody Harrelson - Game Change
Toby Jones - The Girl
Clive Owen - Hemingway & Gellhorn
Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Nicole Kidman - Hemingway & Gellhorn
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story
Sienna Miller - The Girl
Julianne Moore - Game Change
Sigourney Weaver - Political Animals
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Max Greenfield - New Girl
Ed Harris - Game Change
Danny Huston - Magic City
Mandy Patinkin - Homeland
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hayden Panettiere - Nashville
Archie Panjabi - The Good Wife
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey
Sofia Vergara - Modern Family
Sarah Paulson - Game Change
Walt Disney animation’s first foray into 3D ‘toon making isn’t just a technical triumph it thankfully also tells the clever story of Bolt (John Travolta). He’s a superstar TV canine who believes the superpowers he displays weekly on his series are for real --especially when it comes to the protection of his master and co-star Penny (Miley Cyrus). One day however the dog is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City. Lost alone and confused on the streets of the Big Apple Bolt is still living the show vowing to get to Penny who he believes has been kidnapped by the “green-eyed man.” And so he embarks on a cross-country journey to L.A. to save Penny. Along the way he is joined by an abandoned wily housecat Mittens (Susie Essman) and a TV-loving hamster Rhino (Mark Walton) who believes everything he sees on the tube is ALSO real. Of course Bolt is in for rude awakening when he finds out he is just a regular dog but he still needs to get to Penny -- even if it means she might not be there for him when he returns. Disney is not a studio that generally depends on superstar voices for their animated films but in casting Travolta and tween queen Cyrus they have scored a bullseye. Travolta’s Bolt is a delightful cross between the self-assured superstar and a pooch in denial. The actor doesn’t phone it in but instead creates an original and loveable dog that stands proudly in Disney’s large canon of canine greats. The action scenes created for Bolt’s TV series are lots of fun and the interactions with his traveling companions are choice. As Penny Cyrus is sympathetic sincere and she even gets to sing a duet with Travolta “I Thought I Lost You ” which she co-wrote. The show is nearly stolen though by comedian Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Mittens -- a smart determined and emotionally wounded pet cat abandoned by her owners and forced to wander the streets alone. And by Mark Walton as the hilarious Rhino the obsessive fanboy hamster who rolls around in his ball. Walton is actually an animator in real life who happened to be so good at voicing Rhino during tests they just gave him the job. Disney vets Chris Williams and Byron Howard capably usher the venerable Disney label into the brave new world of 3D animation and the results are promising -- putting the audience right in the center of Bolt’s universe. The TV series action set pieces are particularly effective in using the technology. It’s not even necessary to see the film in 3D because the whole CG process has come a long way in a few short years and Bolt is one of the best looking most accomplished animated films in memory -- glasses or no glasses. Williams and Howard expertly blend humor pathos and blockbuster-style action scenes effortlessly giving “Bolt” an appeal beyond just the target kid demo.
Everyone involved in End of the Spear does indeed in one way or another end up facing a spear of some kind. The film dramatizes the real-life story of the Waodani people--a violent Ecuadorian society living in the Amazon jungle--and the five young missionaries who in the early ‘60s tried to communicate peace with them. Lead by Nate Saint (Chad Allen) the five men make contact with the tribe but are brutally speared by Waodani leader Mincayani (Louie Leonardo) and his fellow warriors. Then in an odd twist some of the slain men’s family members including Nate’s young son Steve (Chase Ellison) go and live with the Waodani in a continued attempt to promote peace. But as Steve grows up he is haunted by his beloved father’s death while Mincayani struggles with his past actions and his ever changing world. Steve (also Chad Allen) returns to the jungle and he and Mincayani finally have a meeting of the spears er minds so to speak. Remember little Chad Allen from the ‘80s TV show Our House? Exactly. But although the former child actor hasn’t done anything of major note since his performance in Spear is a worthy effort. Here the actor adequately distinguishes the roles of the saintly father and the grounded grown-up son. Ellison meanwhile with his angelic yet inquisitive face aptly conveys the pain of losing his father in the role of the young Steve Saint. But while Leonardo is convincing as the virile but conflicted Mincayani trying fit in with the modern world the actor loses much of his punch as the charcter's older older incarnation who has apparently given up his violent ways (something which isn’t explained clearly in the film). Writer/director Jim Hanon already detailed this real-life story in his 2005 documentary Beyond the Gates--but apparently felt that wasn’t enough. Someone should have advised him it was. Hanon a former advertising executive has a nice touch as a documentary filmmaker putting moviegoers right in the middle of the lush tropical surroundings but he lacks the skills to make a cohesive feature film. It’s far more fascinating to watch the real Ecuadorian people struggle to reconcile their violent culture with their peaceful lives than it is to watch a dramatization of the events complete with clichéd dialogue and stiff acting. The feature is simply ineffective and fails to give the actual story any more resonance.