Vague Visages Writers’ Room: Weekend Vibes 6.8.18

Weekend Vibes is a Friday column about streaming recommendations, new release hype and entertainment events. 

Stefen Styrsky (@Stefen_Styrsky)

The story is told by a narrator looking backwards: a man with a shady past whose obsession over a woman eventually gets him killed. It sounds like a film noir, reminiscent of Out of the Past, Double Indemnity or The Breaking Point. But nope, it’s The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was turned onto this perceptive reading by NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan’s So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures. Her Chapter 3 “Rhapsody in Noir” is a thrilling discussion of just how indebted The Great Gatsby is to the hard-boiled school of fiction popular at the time Fitzgerald was writing and which would later also inspire the film noir genre. The first evidence is Fitzgerald’s admitted admiration for Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Then there’s The Great Gatsby’s plot: how the subject got rich (bootlegging and bond fraud), his idealized love for Daisy, the way that love drives him to bad choices and Daisy’s complicity in his murder. In between, the book provides a huge dose of doomed elegance, degenerate parties and flawed characters — like much noir, there are no innocents. The 1949 film version got it right and is laced with noirish stylings and stars noir-staple Alan Ladd as Gatsby. Corrigan also shows that noir pictures — The Big Sleep, Mildred Pierce and The Lady in the Lake to name a few — later appropriated themes and images from The Great Gatsby. There’s more than can be conveyed in this synopsis, but I’ll say Corrigan’s book sent me on a scramble to re-read Fitzgerald’s classic, which I think it would do for any lover of the noir movie genre. I’ll mention one more thing: of all the memorable deaths in noir, Joe Gillis’ corpse floating in the pool at the opening of Sunset Blvd. probably ranks up there, and it’s an image straight from Fitzgerald. It’s Gatsby’s fate as well.

Walter Neto (@wfcneto)

In Fast and Loose, Whitmer Thomas plays himself in a sharply-written short film about modern relationships and our difficulties to keep them going in a healthy way. He spends his days drifting through L.A. and meeting people who are part of his life in a series of brief encounters. He talks to his friends and alienates them: there is always something going on in his life, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. His love life is not in a better place. He’s been dating the same girl, and even though she’s into him, he keeps avoiding the conversation on why they are not having sex. Fast and Loose is a funny comedy about our mistakes and inability to see that we do the same things over and over, even though we keep expecting a different result. There are some interesting situations during the 15-minute runtime, but unfortunately there is not enough time to fully develop them all. But there’s enough material to maybe turn Fast and Loose into a feature film or web series.

Fast and Loose is available on No Budge.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough)

After receiving the first two submissions for Weekend Vibes 6.8.18 yesterday, I’m writing the last entry on Friday afternoon CST upon learning that Anthony Bourdain has passed away at age 61. In short, I’ve long admired his curious mind, big personality and television series that inspired me to make a few left turns during travel adventures over the years  — a couple didn’t turn out so well but ultimately changed my perspective (and maybe toughened me up a bit, too). I won’t be streaming any Bourdain programs this weekend (because it’s still difficult to process the news), but I will be thinking about his spirit and all the people he positively influenced. I’m going to leave the image slot blank because that’s how my mind feels right now.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you… you take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” — Anthony Bourdain