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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Adapting Gatsby

I was just emailing back and forth with a friend at a studio the other day about how I’d love to see a really killer new adaptation of The Great Gatsby, and then today Variety reports that Baz Lurhmann has bought the rights to Gatsby and wants to direct. Much as I’ve enjoyed much of Luhrmann’s work, and like his visual style, he’s not really who I’d think of to direct an adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
Honestly, you know who I’d love to see tackle Gatsby? Darren Aronofsky. For all that it was flawed, The Fountain was gorgeous to look at, and with The Wrestler he’s shown he can handle an intimate character story with subtlety and depth. Or I’d like to see Ramin Bahrani, whose indie films Man Push Cart, Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo have all been utterly superb. He’s one of our best upcoming young directors, his next film is a period drama set in the Gold Rush, and I’m curious to see how he handles that material. Bahrani gets character stories, he has a unique eye for finding what’s most compelling about the characters he explores, and he and his cinematographer, Michael Simmonds, do some beautiful visual work together.
While we’re talking about adaptations, I’d also love to see someone take on a remake of The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, which was made back in 1979 as Die Blechtrommel and won the Best Foreign Oscar. I’m immersed in reading the book now, and it’s so crazy, savage, but still beautiful. Not sure who I’d want to direct it for a remake, though … Tom Tykwer, maybe. Loved what he did with Perfume.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon