Oooooohh jaaaaaa you beeetcha

North Dakotans and Minnesotans can be mistaken for funny-talking rubes for years to come with the advent of the new “Fargo” TV show.

Set in Bemidji and filmed in Alberta, it’s like to be the only thing people remember about us aside from the oil.  But they managed to include a North Dakota-born actor in the cast, so hey, it’s not like they completely threw us under the bus.

TEDx Grand Forks chooses last two speakers

a j5mc report

Two more speakers were chosen to fill the bill at TEDx Grand Forks, following a vote of the audience at a pre-event spectacle at the Fire Hall Theatre in Grand Forks.  Barry Steigel will have a Cattle-inspired talk about life and entrepreneurship, and Tamara Galen will talk about challenging society’s views about what it means to be a successful woman.

Though billed as “Open Mic” night, the blizzard conditions up and down the Red River Valley kept two scheduled speakers away — and the event organizers provided neither a microphone, nor opened the opportunity to the near-100 attendees to stand up and make an extra pitch or two.  Still, the crowd seemed pleased by the event.

TEDx Grand Forks kicked off its ticket sales immediately after the event, with the line-up stretching the full length of the small venue.  The main event for TEDx Grand Forks will happen at the Empire Arts Centre on Friday, February 7, at 1pm.  Tickets are $100 for the general public, and $20 for students, while still available.

Style but middling substance in Gatsby flick

An entertainment article!  Yes, they do happen from time to time. -j5

Baz Luhrmann’s all-Australian production of The Great Gatsby casts an over-dusty stretch of Outback as North Dakota.  Every generation the tale of North Dakota mobster James Gatz is retold.  This time, as ever, the film is decried as failing to capture the novel. I must disagree:  Though it brings its own problems, the tale shines through as bitter as ever.

The Great Gatsby is a thoroughly depressing tale written about 50 years ahead of its time.  Its debasement of the American Dream in a drugged haze is in much the same spirit as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Unlike Hunter S. Thompson, F. Scott Fitzgerald wasn’t instantly celebrated, and so our interpretation of Gatsby is mainly coloured by the divinations of English majors with time to kill doing radio interviews.  Being that I will read or watch a movie for its entertainment value, I have a different perspective.

For one, I liked the soundtrack!  Sure, it trotted out the three compositions from the era everyone still remembers, but the modernist fusion pieces capture the frenetic scene of the Roaring Twenties without sending the audience’s heads spinning as they question the merits of their great-grandparents’ popular music.

From the beginning of the film, its cinematography is questionable, it can best be described as a series of 3D stunts, especially painful to watch in 2D as the film’s cartoonish backdrops are stripped of their feigned depth.

The framing story of Nick writing the novel in a 1920s mental hospital, strains credulity, and the narration motif goes over the top, with longhand and type crawling over the screen.  Yes, we all know it’s a book.

As a DiCaprio vehicle it pales next to Django Unchained, but still, Gatsby’s timeless ennui and desperation stands apart from the rest, who are chained mercilessly to the stereotypes of the Twenties; gentlemanly silence about faithlessness, demure female characters who are seen but not heard, and overt racism in Edgerton’s Tom Buchanan.  At times, it was painful to watch.

Did I have fun?  Yeah, a bit.  Was it worth seeing for theatre ticket prices?  Probably not.