By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood May 15, 2013 at 1:49PM
Insatiable multi-tasker James Franco is back at film criticism again, and this time has a few words to impart on Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," which opens the Cannes Film Festival today before the film's European roll-out. Franco's a fan, and calls out the critics who "ravaged the film for not being loyal to the book [as] hypocrites." Highlights below.
Adaptations of hallowed American classics are close to Franco's heart right now, as his version of William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" (which he wrote, directed and stars in) has a place in the Un Certain Regard section of this year's lineup. Watch the trailer here.
Franco's dabbling in practically every artistic medium hasn't seemed to hurt his 2013 box office appeal, as polar opposites "Oz the Great and Powerful" (in which he gratingly plays the eponymous lead) and Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" (in which he brilliantly plays a corn-rowed and grilled Caucasian gangsta) both proved hits, albeit on different scales.
Franco has previously reviewed "Snow White and the Huntsman" (and gave a sound defense for the much-maligned Kristen Stewart) and last year gave us his thoughts on the first season of Lena Dunham's "Girls."
On the hypocritical response to "The Great Gatsby":
The critics who’ve ravaged the film for not being loyal to the book are hypocrites. These people make their living doing readings and critiques of texts in order to generate theories of varying levels of competency, or simply to make a living. Luhrmann’s film is his reading and adaptation of a text—his critique, if you will. Would anyone object to a production of Hamlet in outer space? Not as much as they object to the Gatsby adaptation, apparently.
On the addition of Nick (Tobey Maguire) narrating from an institution:
Nick, outside of the action, doesn’t have personal stakes in the story, and while placing him in an institution raises his stakes, it makes his obsession with Gatsby even more convoluted. But maybe Luhrmann’s reasoning is that this sort of confusion is interesting, and who could fault him for that. Or maybe he just loved Gatsby and if they could have just gone on living side by side, just as Toby and Leo did in real life, all would have been fine. That actually sounds like a good movie, too. But I guess it’s been made—it’s a show called Entourage.
On Luhrmann's use of hip-hop and 3D:
The jazz music of the 20s was raw and dangerous, but if Luhrmann had used that music today, it would have been a museum piece—irrelevant to mainstream and high culture alike, because they would’ve already known what’s coming. There have been objections to his use of 3D, but frankly it’s a nonissue. It works, and is neither distracting nor game changing. You just deal with it because you want to. It’s fun to watch.