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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baz Luhrmann's "Great Gatsby"


Ok, finally saw the movie!The problem with new Gatsby is not overblown visuals per se but  whole question of the director's vision.

 Wanted to walk out about five times but just went to the men’s room to catch my breath ( etc) really and came back.Yes, what is going on here is that this is not Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, it is Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby…I was willing to accept that from the start. 

(It seems to me, though, that in adapting the script Luhrmann is either crassing up the original all the time– the Valley of Ashes in the book is purposefully mysterious, Luhrmann tries to make it a HEAVY symbol of the pollution and waste problem of a wasteful society….. 

But hey, right at the beginning there are aerial shots of Manhattan NOT as it was in 1922 but as it was in 1932...the Empire State Building and the really tall spires of Lower Manhattan were just a gleam in some developers' eyes in 1922. So you know right away the kinds of distortions ( or "carelessness" that are awaiting you in this version)....

 Surprise– I thought the music was just fine--and I am not a big Jay Z fan--, in fact I thought it was one of the better aspects of the movie. It works, it works!! And I really liked the Indian actor who plays the gambler/gangster Meyer Wolfsheim, he is right on and is more believable than you might ever guess knowing he is a Bollywood star .... 

 The big problems are two: 1) Luhrmann throws all the dramatic material at us with the same level of force, even spelling it out--LITERALLY-- I mean, in one case the narrator's words (straight from the book of course) are  dancing across the screen ( the other times the lines that appear are supposed to be as Carraway as narrator is typing them...which is part of the framing device of the movie)... 2) Why Nick Carraway is so impressed with the Daisy-stalking gangster Gatsby is never made convincing! This is not Di Caprio’s fault, it is Luhrmann’s. He botches this up somehow ( such as when Gatsby tells Nick the (maybe, finally) TRUE story of his life, suddenly instead of being in on the action it all takes place in long shot more or less (except for flashbacks that zip by in a really disjointed way) with Maguire’s flat accent summing it all up in --clumsily to say the least). I think all the actors did pretty damn well with what they were given, but when you have to start explaining motivations to yourself,when all this other material is being hammered home, you realize there is something half baked going on here ( For instance, you have to figure out for yourself that Wilson the gas station owner is as much in love with his wife as Gatsby is with Daisy or even more so and so he has been refusing to face the fact she has been cheating on him until he can no longer possibly  avoid doing so

 Edgerton’s character  has, as some people have noted, more to do than Gatsby does ( by the way, Nick went to YALE with this Tom Buchanan person, NOW he is shocked that Buchanan is such a lout and such a self centered bully?)( and even more than vaguely evil, the  calculatedly  insinuating way he tells Wilson after Myrtle's death how "something has to be done" about Gatsby--who Wilson now thinks ran Myrtle over.).... (  Why is Nick rooting for Gatsby? I guess you could say that Nick cares for Daisy and would rather see her with Gatsby, as awful as Gatsby is when you think about it. But what person who REALLY cared about Daisy would want to see her with either one of these guys?). And Joel Edgerton  also plays Buchanan with a great deal of common sense..for instance, when he realizes Nick is on Gatsby’s side in the hotel room, he just ASSUMES right away Nick has been “bought” (money, money) by Gatsby. From his point of view, what else would he think? And Carey Mulligan DOES act well as the Daisy part allows her, as I said… OK, three stars --maybe two and a half would be more like it, but only good, not “Great” by any means.

 And it will be a long time before I ever see a movie by Baz Luhrmann again, that’s for sure. "Heavy handed" is an understatement when it comes to his directorial style... I do not even know why I would at first say three stars, when two and an half if is better...I mean, if I wanted to walk out but stayed just so I could say I had seen whole thing, a lot of other people will probably want to walk out too ( since the first 30 minutes of the movie are pretty entertaining (well, they were for me--people who love the original novel's tone will not), it will be some time before they get really antsy... I wonder if they will bother trying to get their money back). Also I suspect most of the people going to this have seen some other Baz Luhrmann film OR are such fans of DiCaprio..... OR will enjoy all the glitz..who knows , but  Gatsby purists MUST stay away from this film or they will get upset and demand their money back for sure!! Otherwise, whole enterprise of watching it just knocked me out and I am as tired as hell!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ritzy Canine Carriage House

This place was formerly a high end antiques store in Murray is the home of the "Ritzy Canine Carriage House." That is what the plaque in front says...I suppose it is some kind of dog care place or a vetenarian.

Images of Manhattan

Same store sells a pop art kind of painting of Manhattan and also a giant photo of the aspects of photos of Manhattan is that they are, of course, quickly made out of date by the addition of new projects and big buildings...but then you notice that less when you look at a  big overview

Appliance Doctor

They always say you can find just about anything imaginable in NYC for a price...

First time I ever saw a panel truck from a firm that fixes "all kinds" of appliances...

Makes sense you would see it in Kips Bay where people own all sorts of condos and even private houses that do not want some super or just any old handyman type touching their appliances.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pro Health

Just a nice window display for an upscale pharmacy ....there are an awful lot of pharmacies in Midtown, including some independent ones which still are around....(plus of course the ubiquitous chain places like Duane Reade...I swear there is a Duane Reade every third or fourth block around here).

Clothes of Younger Men

Occured to me when I saw this place how few stores there are really geared to young men who want to dress up some without looking like bankers. Women, of course, have an infinite variety of clothing stores to choose from.

Airbrush Tan

Have walked past this old tanning salon so many times without noticing they have switched over to featuring these "airbrush" tans which do not give you UV exposure.

Along with all the other  very  numerous personal care places (including fitness centers), the tanning salons remind you again how preoccupied a lot of people are with their looks around here ...and pay a lot of money for it. Makes sense in a competitive place like Manhattan so many people are always trying to make sure they look their best.

Sukyo Center

"An Eye for an Eye Will Leave the Whole World Blind." That's one of the messages of the Sukyo Mahikari center for human development..

A nice sentiment. I wish there were more places like this around in Midtown instead of psychics and the infinite number of nail salons ( you can throw in the super trendy hair places, too).

Oh, those Psychics

Yes, this is on a wall in a nearby Midtown neighborhood close to fancy shops and cafes--something for yet another psychic that looks more like belongs on the Boardwalk of the old Coney Island.
As I have noted, I keep realizing there are even more psychics in Midtown Manhattan than I thought--lots of the time I walk by them without paying any attention to them....

Neighborhood full of Yuppies and the Old

Cold snap overnight, sent temperature down into the upper 20's in some of the outer suburbs in the hills of Northern New Jersey and adjacent NY State... about 40 in the city.

The next day , people had abandoned their summer clothes they had started to wear for something warmer ( by the way, it was broiling in Chicago that day, new weird weather has big contrasting air masses over different parts of the country a lot)...

Reminded too just how many old people live in this neighborhood, and people in wheelchairs..endless parade of mostly old women with walkers and old couples holding on to each other as they trudge along carefully....most of them as noted in old rent stabilized apartments...some with care givers and many in wheelchairs.

Then of course there are all the kids of the Yuppies and their nannies around you could get a real age mix around here.

Natural Dog Snacks

All-natural dog snacks etc.... for the dog who has decided to become Vegan or whatever.

Ongoing street sales of people's old "stuff"

Older women usually are the people who put out these tables outside these buildings on Second Avenue at the bottom of Murray Hill....they have, it seems, old rent stabilized apartments they will never leave (why should they?)-- but from time to time they just decide some of the old "stuff" they have accumulated has to go.

This batch includes some framed picture of the Yankees from some pennant season a long time ago as well as an air filter machine...

I used to have a machine just like the one shown. I went through air filters pretty fast as there seems to be a lot of dust in the air in NYC wherever you are ( my Eye Ears Nose and Throat doctor confirms this)...

Without thinking about looking on the internet ( it took me a while to get used to googling for things) I decided that going out and finding these filters (only a couple of stores in Manhattan seemed to reliably carry the ones I wanted) was an expense and a pain that was not worth it.
 So I just left my machine down in a spot in the bldg where I lived then where people left items other people might want on their way to the trash...someone took it right away.

By the way, I do not have any allergies especially, just mild hay fever type reactions from time to time in the summer...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

That Summer Feeling

Today there was some rain--while I took a nap in the afternoon, a squall passed through and knocked down trees down near Battery Park City. 

Which makes me wonder how soon the Hurricane Season will begin again...and when we will have to deal with another storm like Sandy. According to the experts, it will not be that long.

Hope everyone is better prepared this time.


Don't even ask me what this is all about...just another one of the passing mysteries of Midtown

Sukyo Center

"An Eye for an Eye Will Leave the Whole World Blind," notes this Center for Spiritual Development on the edge of Kips Bay area...

Wish we had more places like this around and fewer nail salons and weird trendy hair stylists.

Oh well, Manhattan yuppies are not known for their spiritual depths...

The place with the lousy food and the ugly owner

Love this sign over a side door to the Waterfront Ale House in Kips Bay....

Rare to see any kind of place have a sense of humor about itself like this!

Belly Dancing on 34th Street

When I posted this photo on Facebook, one of my FB friends noted, " watch out for those Gipsies!!"

So, belly dancing has made a comeback at this place on East 34th Street! Rack it up to the ethnic diversity of the stores and bars in the neighborhood...

Summer is here-- traditional ice cream like Good Humor bars

Well, here is a sure sign Summer is really here, when they start advertising traditional ice cream treats like Good Humor bars and the Klondike stuff at a local store.

Notice they also have Ben and Jerry's these days-- thought I read somewhere that Ben and Jerry's was bigger in Europe these days than the U.S., though I would have to check on that.


Please, spare me this kind of movie

I wonder if I should even give any sort of attention to awful "entertainments" like this seems to be-- more and more common these days of course,  playing to some kind of audience that is seeking out the blood and gore and cheap thrills that this sort of thing purveys...

Notice the ad also warns the picture also contains " smoking and drinking"-- a nod to political correctness in that direction ( suggesting it is for "mature" audiences)...(what do they mean by "mature", though, of course?).

Zuckers-- an old fashioned concept in modern dress

Heard comedian Mel Brooks  on Public Radio here the other day talking about how typically some Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe would come to NYC and open a little store selling smoked fish and a few food items...

I suppose Zuckers in Midtown probably started off that way, but in its present form it is as you can see a much classier looking place than that.

Some of the stores that are in the Zuckers category are I believe in the category of "Appetizing" rather than " Delicatessen"-- such as the famous Russ and Daughters on the Lower East Side.

Traditionally, one of the main features of these old places was the owner "schmoozing" with the patrons, whom he often got to know quite well...all their little triumphs and also their "tsouris"-- soft pedaling the triumphs, usually, because , like their Sicilian neighbors, many of them were  afraid of boasting and bringing on the curse of the Evil Eye--

Don't know how much of the schmoozing goes on in Zuckers, because it is not in its traditional kind of neighborhood. But I am sure it busy serving up lox and bagels with a schmeer all the time just as always...

Fighting the Library Cuts

Yes, once again Bloomberg et. al. want to slash money from the Public Library budget...

Was thinking the other day how great it is to have this local Kips Bay Library here in the neighborhood-- I use the Public Library all the time, although of course since I am getting books there I am in the minority (most people are getting movies when I go there).

I have signed an internet petition to save library funding and I hope more people will do so.

Having recently had a hernia operation followed closely by pneumonia, I have been home a lot recuperating and have had more time to read. Whether I will get through all the books I have checked out or not is questionable though-- I simply do not feel that much like reading these days, although I was able to get through a book I bought on the internet ( by a Barbara Korsch, M.D., on how to speak to your doctor)-- (which by the way was informative but I have realized that the real problem is with the doctors--these days they are always in a hurry and often running late and the problem in communications is THEIRS, not mine.

Incidentally, one of the books I have out is a bio of P. G. Wodehouse which I ordered from the NYPL without paying enough attention to its length. Yikes! It is a huge volume-- hefty bios like that are usually the roughest kind of book for me to read, I just do not want to know every little detail of someone's life and times.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tourist buses everywhere

More tour buses on the streets of Midtown than ever before, and of course one of the buildings they all want to see...I checked and was surprised how much it costs to go to the very top of the Empire State Bldg now, (less for the lower 86th Floor open air viewing area)-- but the price of everything in Manhattan has gotten way out hand for so long I don't know what else I expected

Tudor City Spring

Like everything else about it, Tudor City is really pretty when it comes to its little parks...I can remember way back when people were not very eager to live there, but the air is much cleaner there now and the traffic improved once they moved out the East Side Airlines Terminal from nearby.

42nd Street Subway entrance

Most NYC subway entrances are so gloomy, this one across from Grand Central is unusually posh.
I ride the subway less and less these days as the crowding gets worse all the time and the tension there gets on my nerves...alas, the bus is often no better. Some of the bus drivers are idiots.

Spring weekend brings out basketball players

Basketball courts are already crowded and even more guys kept coming...wonderful weekend for playing basketball ...right behind the group above were some more people with basketballs...not enough space for all who expected to play.

Spring is Here, finally

Spring has finally come here...when the first Magnolia trees were blossoming, I saw these what I assume are grandparents out with their granchild picking one of the first blossoms from a tree in St. Vartan's Park.