The best thing in Maureen Dowd‘s 5.5 N.Y. Times column about Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby is the title. The second best is the closing passage in which she quotes New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, to wit:

“[Wieseltier] “understands that we’re drawn back to Gatsby because we keep seeing modern buccaneers of banking and hedge funds, swathed in carelessness and opulence. ‘But what most people don’t understand is that the adjective ‘Great’ in the title was meant laconically,” he says. ‘There’s nothing genuinely great about Gatsby. He’s a poignant phony. Owing to the money-addled society we live in, people have lost the irony of Fitzgerald’s title. So the movies become complicit in the excessively materialistic culture that the novel set out to criticize.”

“He notes that Gatsby movies are usually just moving versions of Town and Country or The Times’s T magazine, and that filmmakers ‘get seduced by the seductions that the book itself is warning about.’

“A really great movie of the novel, he argues, would ‘show a dissenting streak of austerity.’ He thinks it’s time for a black Gatsby, noting that Jay-Z might be an inspirational starting point — ‘a young man of talents with an unsavory past consumed by status anxiety and ascending unstoppably through tireless self-promotion and increasingly conspicuous wealth.’

“The problem with the Gatsby movies, he said, ‘is that they look like they were made by Gatsby. The trick is to make a Gatsby movie that couldn’t have been made by Gatsby — an unglossy portrait of gloss.”