The challenge Baz Luhrmann had in adapting The Great Gatsby to film was similar to what Walter Salles faced with On the Road: how to stay loyal to the era depicted, while still retaining the rawness of the original text. Salles did a great job of capturing the ambiance of 1950s America, but it could be argued that his Dean and Sal didn’t have enough zeal—enough of that desire to live, live, live.
The old saying is that a good book makes a bad film, while a paperback potboiler like The Godfather makes a great film. But this wisdom is derived from the idea that a good book is made by the writing, and if it’s adapted into whatever, its magic is lost. As just about every (film) critique has already noted—and they’re right, if repetitive—most of what makes The GreatGatsby great is Fitzgerald’s prose. We allow the classics to get away with so much because we love the characters. But when older stories are revived for film, the issue of the past and present must be rectified. But that lack was not a function of anything missing in the actors or the general direction as much as it is a result of the passage of time, the encasing of a book in the precious container of “classic” status.
The Company Helping Movie Studios Sue You for Illegal Downloading Has Been Using Images Without Permission
As you may already know, Voltage Pictures, the company responsible for the movie The Hurt Locker, (as well as a million movies you’ve never heard of) is currently in court, attempting to get an Ontario-based internet service provider to release the names associated with over 1000 IP addresses that they claim belong to people who illegally downloaded their copyrighted material.
These IP addresses were gathered by an extraordinarily douchey company called Canipre, the only antipiracy enforcement firm currently offering services in Canada.
Canipre, as a company, offers to track down people who are illegally downloading copyrighted material from record companies and film studios. According to their website, they have issued more than 3,500,000 takedown notices, and their work has led to multimillion dollar damages awards, injunctions, seizure of assets, and even incarceration.
But it’s not like Canipre is doing this just to get rich. In a recent interview, Canipre’s managing director Barry Logan explained that it’s about much more than just money—he’s hoping to teach the Canadian public a moral lesson:
”[We want to] change social attitudes toward downloading. Many people know it is illegal but they continue to do it… Our collective goal is not to sue everybody… but to change the sense of entitlement that people have, regarding Internet-based theft of property.”
Here is a screenshot of the front page of the Canipre website as it appeared when I visited it this morning.
I contacted Steve and asked if they had sought permission to use the picture. Steve said, “No. In no way have I authorized or licensed this image to anyone in any way.”
So, just to be clear: Canipre has written “they all know it’s wrong and they’re still doing it.” Referring to copyright theft. On top of an image that they are using without the permission of the copyright holder. On their official website.
When we shot this, I could not believe what was happening. This was probably the most mind-blowing moment for me. I mean, it’s Vanessa Hudgens, the girl from High School Musical! Of course, the ATL Twins were very helpful in demonstrating the proper way to snort drugs off of naked women. The girl with the “drugs” on her (crushed B12, in case you’re wondering) was an extra who was stiff as a board and blushing from ear to ear the entire time.
I’ve known Harmony Korine for many years; we’ve been friends through thick and thin, good times and bad. I feel like every element of Spring Breakers was him creating an environment where people felt really open and safe—perhaps so they were comfortable going crazy (in a fun way). The fact that he brought this cast together—James Franco, Gucci Mane, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and his wife, Rachel—was a sign that this movie was going to be very special. And I think casting the ATL Twins was him recognizing that they were a physical manifestation of what the film is about. They were so clear about their desires: drinking, double-penetrating women, and doing drugs. It was all out in the open with them, just like the movie. I’m happy to share with the world some of my favorite behind-the-scenes photos, along with a few captions that will provide some context for what the hell was happening on this crazy set.
For an unreleased, unseen film with a tiny budget,The Canyons has attracted an enormous amount of publicity. It’s reportedly a sex-filled noir-ish melodrama set in LA, but that’s about all we know, since it hasn’t come out yet—in fact, it hasn’t even been shown at any festivals. Sundance rejected it, and South by Southwest not only rejected it, a “festival insider” told the Hollywood Reporter that the film had “an ugliness and a deadness to it.” Ouch. I haven’t seen it. You haven’t seen it. So why has so much been written about it?
Well for one thing, The Canyons was directed by the legendary Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver, co-wroteRaging Bull, and directed movies like American Gigolo and Affliciton, both of which he also wrote. The film also garnered headlines for being written by iconic American Psycho and Less than Zero author Bret Easton Ellis, known more recently as one of the most cantankerous bastards on Twitter. And Ellis took great pains to make sure the film featured pornographic movie star James Deen in his first “mainstream” (for lack of a better word) role.
VICE: Before working on The Canyons, you two had another project on deck, a shark thriller. I am a sucker for shark movies—even shitty ones—so a Bret Easton Ellis-penned shark flick sounds like a dream. Braxton Pope: It was called Bait, and it was a revenge movie about a disaffected kid, a sociopath who endures a kind of humiliation on the beach and through a series of events, and in a very cunning way, he ends up on this charter boat with the kids who humiliated him. They’re in the open water and he pulls up the ladder and prevents them from coming back on the boat, and he chums the water. It was a Lionsgate movie and there was a Spanish financier. We were very close to shooting it, then the finances imploded at the last minute. It was an exercise in total frustration and wasted time. That’s what sparked the idea to create something that we could self-finance.
Bret Easton Ellis: Part of the reason we made TheCanyons was the frustration of working for a studio like Lionsgate and trying to get the shark movie made and having that fall through. Everyone from Ed Burns to the Polish brothers are rethinking the model these days.
Is that what Paul Schrader meant when he said, in the Times article, “The American market is just tapped out”? Pope: The types of movie Schrader was known for in the 70s and 80s wouldn’t get financed by the studios. Dramas or character pieces—those movies are nearly extinct at the studio level today. There’s been a transition toward spectacle movies with budgets of $100-million-plus, Michael Bay and superhero movies, heavy CG movies. Lionsgate is looking for big franchise properties that will generate huge revenue, mass-market films. And typically the movies I put together tend to be smaller, with filmmakers like Schrader, or Gaspar Noé.
Not that long ago—it was last year, though it feels like a lifetime ago—I wrote a column that could have made my reputation, and almost began to, but instead it made me sick. It was called “What Are Women For?”, and though it might have seemed like something a pundit had spent a night at a desk assembling out of notes and bookmarks and tabs, I actually wrote it in about 30 minutes at a coffee shop. I was more or less unemployed, I was wondering how long I could last in that state, and I had a deadline I wanted to hit.
When the column was published, I received an avalanche of criticism from outraged, irritated women and liberals, and the conservative establishment didn’t offer a peep in my defense. Rather than embracing my role as the bro version of Ann Coulter and try for a maybe-lucrative career as a conservative pundit, as the angry little controversy gave me a chance to do, I wanted to go back in time and arrange that the whole thing never happened.
On the one hand, politics, like gossip, is the art of talking about strangers. You goad people you don’t know into having a reaction, and, as a rule, the intensity of that reaction translates into success. On the other hand, as I suddenly realized, there’s very little joy in spontaneously inspiring real people you’ve never met to despise you, as if a piece of writing you produced was not just something with your name on it, but was actually you.
And sure enough, as I came to realize more slowly, when you publish things online and live most of your professional life on social media, what you write really is the closest approximation of you that almost anyone on earth can access.