The Great Gaspy: Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Citizen Kane’

Revered works of art are the ripest for reimagining. Not only because, as Walter Benjamin argued, “recreating the value” of any original is preferable to dogmatic fealty to it, but because a classic text’s very timelessness renders it most invincible to the slings and arrows of outrageous reinterpretation.

Not so the translations themselves, as the calamitous critical (though not popular) response to Baz Luhrmann’s 3D film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has shown. Taking hyperbolic liberties with a canonical work has not been the prime grievance, nor could it be. Infusing the Roaring ‘20s with Beyonce, rap, and EDM, as Luhrmann does in Gatsby, is child’s play compared to Orson Welles’s staging of a fascist-era Julius Caesar and a voodoo Macbeth set in Haiti. What has called for Luhrmann’s head on a plate, rather, is that while Welles purportedly teased out topical relevance in Shakespeare’s grandiose vision, Luhrmann allegedly has buried the “great American novel” in a dung heap of stylistic pretension. Continue reading “The Great Gaspy: Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Citizen Kane’” »

The Mediascape Q&A: Chon Noriega, Professor, Cinema and Media Studies

The Mediascape Q&A is a series of interviews designed to explore the work of UCLA faculty and graduate students beyond the classroom.

Dr. Chon Noriega

Matthias Stork: Since I have not yet had the pleasure to take a class with you, Professor Noriega, could you briefly explain what it is exactly that you do in the department? And additionally, could you illuminate some of your past and current research projects?

Chon Noriega: OK. I’ve been a faculty member in the Cinema and Media Studies program for 20 years now. And for the last 10 years I’ve also been directing the Chicano Studies Research Center, which currently accounts for about half of my time, primarily on the teaching side. I am still a full-time faculty member, in terms of service, in terms of student advising. But on the teaching side, it’s been reduced, although in 2011-12 I agreed to do a startup on our Colloquium. So, I taught five courses that year, and three of them were the Colloquium. The idea for the Colloquium was to create an intellectual commons where the faculty and the graduate students could come together to learn about new research by students, faculty in the program, faculty across the campus, and visiting scholars. But it was also designed as a forum for town halls to discuss programmatic issues related to the M.A. or the Ph.D. curriculum. I’m in the process of assessing this experiment right now, to understand whether we actually accomplished what we set out to do and how it could continue. In terms of my teaching, I try to balance it between doing core courses in the program and then the electives on the graduate side. In the past I’ve also taught undergraduate courses. The one I really like is “The History of African, Asian, and Latin American Cinema.” And I think, with the exception of Teshome Gabriel, I’ve been one of the few people that actually teaches all three regions rather than emphasizing just one of them. Continue reading “The Mediascape Q&A: Chon Noriega, Professor, Cinema and Media Studies” »